By Natalie Hoefer
Special to The Message
When the Indiana March for Life began in 2018 in Indianapolis, it included participants from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and the Diocese of Lafayette.
For the first time in its history, the event on Jan. 22 will include groups from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and Indiana’s four other dioceses — Evansville, Fort Wayne-South Bend, Gary and Lafayette — and bishops from four of them. Bishop Robert J. McClory of the Gary Diocese will be out of the country.
“The Supreme Court’s (June 2022) decision on Dobbs v. Jackson returned the legal issue of abortion back to individual states,” says Archbishop Charles C. Thompson.
“This has resulted in an effort of the Ecclesiastical Province of the five dioceses in Indiana to solidify a common voice and witness to the Church’s long-standing, Christ-centered teaching on the dignity of the person from the moment of conception to natural death.”
The expansion of the event includes “exciting” additions and changes, says Brie Anne Varick, director of the archdiocesan Office of Human Life and Dignity.
Among them are participation by the New York-based Sisters of Life throughout the Jan. 21-22 events, including a new youth rally prior to the Mass for Life — both of which will take place in the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.
Other additions include a pre-march rally and a slightly longer march route to the Statehouse. The expansion of the event stems from what Varick calls a “movement of the Holy Spirit.”
The bishops ‘unanimously agreed’
Since the Supreme Court legalized abortion on demand in its Jan. 22, 1973, Roe v. Wade decision, national and local marches for life have taken place annually in solemn remembrance of unborn lives lost and to promote the pro-life cause.
Then, as Archbishop Thompson noted, the case was overturned and abortion regulation returned to the states in June 2022.
As a result, says Varick, “a conversation was raised to the forefront among groups across Indiana as to where they would be sending (March for Life) pilgrims in 2023 — to the national march (in Washington) or to the state march.”
Last year, a group from the Evansville Diocese decided to participate in the state march in Indianapolis.
“St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church was overflowing with (more than) 1,000 in attendance” for the Mass for Life preceding the march, says Varick. “Groups were on the floor and packed in the back.”
The Indiana March for Life planning team — consisting of members from the archdiocese, the Lafayette Diocese and Right to Life of Indianapolis — “started seeing the movement of the Holy Spirit,” she says. “We discerned whether it was time to expand so our presence, our voices could make a significant impact and change in our state,” she says.
They reached out to Archbishop Thompson about moving the Mass to the Indiana Convention Center and promoting groups from the five Indiana dioceses to participate.
“He took this proposal to the Indiana bishops, and they unanimously agreed,” says Varick.
“Our plans include an intentional effort to provide an opportunity for evangelization and catechesis rooted in the respect life and social teachings of the Catholic faith,” says Archbishop Thompson.
These are especially “founded in the Eucharistic celebration of the Mass as the source and summit of our baptismal call to holiness and mission, in preparation for our witness to the sacredness of life in the March for Life to our state’s capital.”
For more information on the march, a schedule of events, travel and parking details, visit cutt.ly/INMFL2024 (case sensitive).