‘It’s not a choice. It’s a child’

Thousands descend upon downtown Springfield for Illinois March for Life


They sang. They danced. They prayed. They smiled. They laughed. They weren’t there for themselves. That’s what makes the Illinois March for Life different than any other march you’ll see. On April 17, about 2,000 people — mostly teenagers and young adults — took to the streets of Springfield around the Illinois statehouse, participating in the Illinois March for Life to be a voice for the voiceless — the unborn.

“I am pro-life because life begins at conception,” said Kate Kuhn, a senior at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield. “It’s not a choice, it’s a child.”

“God made us all with a purpose and no matter what environment you are born into and no matter who you are, you always have a chance to grow closer to Jesus, to live a beautiful life, to love God, and to enjoy that life,” said Samuel Sweeley, a junior at St. Teresa High School in Decatur.

For Catherine Jatcko, a young adult from St. Boniface Parish in Edwardsville, the Illinois March for Life has a special meaning as she calls herself a “miracle baby.” Jatcko says her mom miscarried her, but when a priest prayed over her mom, the hormone level that was needed to keep her alive in the womb returned to where it needed to be without medical explanation.

“Life is sacred from womb to tomb,” Jatcko said. “I use my testimony to testify to life for all people, not just for some. It’s so important to be here and to be a witness to life. We are all sacred, we all have intrinsic value in God’s life, and that can’t be taken away.”

With Roe v. Wade being overturned in 2022, the battle for protections for the unborn is centered on state capitals with Illinois being one of the most important due to its strong pro-abortion laws and a culture that generally approves of abortion. 

“It’s important to fight for anti-abortion laws, and that’s really important to me because I also chose St. Gianna Beretta Molla as my saint (name) when I was confirmed (St. Gianna is the patron saint of mothers, physicians, and unborn children),” said Katie Uebinger, an eighth-grade student at St. Anthony Grade School in Effingham. “I really like kids, and I hope to have a family someday.”

“I think it’s important to fight for life because all life is sacred, we are all made by God, and little, tiny babies haven’t done anything wrong,” said Emma Bock, a teenager who attends St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Springfield.

Before the march began, a rally took place by the Abraham Lincoln statue at the Statehouse. Bishop Thomas John Paprocki began the rally with prayer followed by several speakers.

Before the march and rally, more than 1,500 Catholics attended Mass at the Sangamon Auditorium on the campus of the University of Illinois Springfield. Bishop Paprocki was the main celebrant with Bishop Ronald Hicks of the Diocese of Joliet as the homilist. The large gathering was composed mainly of students from Catholic grade schools, high school, and Newman Centers from across the state, as well as men and women religious and lay adults. This was the second year the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois hosted the Mass before the march. The altar used during the Mass was the same altar used by Pope St. John Paul II when he celebrated Mass in the dome at St. Louis in 1999. 

“The Eucharist is the presence of our Lord, Jesus,” said Bishop Paprocki. “He is the one who fills us with His grace when He comes into our hearts in the Eucharist. So, when receiving the Eucharist on a frequent basis, it helps us to mindful of our own beginning, our own source of life, that comes from God, and hopefully that helps us to be mindful of life that belongs to other people, especially the unborn.” 

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was also open in the afternoon, hosting hundreds of Catholics who prayed before our Lord in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Confessions also took place for more than three hours.  

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