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Vigil held in Wheeling before Washington, D.C. Pro-Life March

By HEATHER ZIEGLER

The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va.  — When Shaini Faini was in high school, she wrote a term paper on abortion that has had a lasting effect on her life as a Christian.

St. Michael Catholic Church member Gretchen Wilson holds a poster with a pro-life message prior to Thursday’s Respect for Life prayer vigil at the church.
(Photo by Heather Ziegler)

“What I learned and saw in my research turned my stomach,” said Faini, a member of St. Michael Parish in Wheeling and a mother of grown children. “But I also saw the need to educate women and let them know that there are supportive programs to help them choose life.”

The experience also showed Faini the need, as a pro-life Catholic, to help the church educate women that there are choices other than abortion when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. She said the Catholic Church has programs to help women who choose to keep their babies, and to offer support to those who have experienced abortion.

Faini is known for her singing voice and shares her talent in church. On Thursday evening, she and fellow parishioner Lou Volpe joined voices to sing “The Least of These,” a powerful song with a message about the sanctity of life. The prayer service was held at St. Michael’s as part of the parish’s annual Respect for Life program.

Many of its parishioners and students are part of a bus caravan headed to today’s March For Life in Washington, D.C. Among others attending today’s march are busloads of parishioners from Our Lady of Peace, and students from Wheeling Central Catholic and Bishop Donahue high schools, Wheeling Jesuit University and Franciscan University of Steubenville.

Gretchen Wilson, who helped organize the prayer service at St. Michael’s, also will lead rosary devotions that will continue hourly today from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the church.

She said she has been involved in the Respect for Life group at the church because “someone has to be a voice for these babies.”

“We live in a country that is more concerned about plastic bags in the garbage than the babies thrown away in those plastic bags,” Wilson said.

Wilson said she has worked with women who have had abortions and many regret their decisions.

“We have to offer them reconciliation. We are not here to judge anyone. We have to pray for the men involved, as well. They are often overlooked and experience guilt about their girlfriends or wives having abortions,” Wilson said.

Cecelia Donahoe at Our Lady of Peace Parish in Wheeling has been handling the arrangements for her parish’s bus trip to the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Donahoe said the parish has sponsored a bus for the past four years, only missing out last year due to poor weather conditions. More than 35 people will be on board the bus today and will join up with a bus from Wheeling Central.

Past experiences at the march have left an indelible mark on those who have participated and Donahue said it’s especially heartwarming to see the enthusiasm among the teenagers who make the trip.

“We meet up with the Central bus at 11 (a.m.) and stop for breakfast. We get to D.C. at about 7 a.m. and this year we go to the armory. There is Mass and all the priests and young people there. They are tweeting and praying and hearing a message from Pope Francis. It’s amazing,” Donahue said.

Teens, college students and adults of all ages make this annual trek. From the armory, the group takes the Metro to the march and then heads out to the walking site.

“Why do we do this? It’s part of our religion. How many times is it pointed out to us in our Mass? … It’s about the point of conception to natural death,” Donahoe added.

President Donald Trump has made claims that he is a pro-life president. Donahue, while not counting him out, said politics often is more in play than action toward pro-life issues.

“We just want to see it in action,” she said.

See more from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

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