By Armando Machado
NEW YORK (OSV News) — The national kickoff for the annual A-Cross America Relay for Life, began early Aug. 26 in Manhattan, with a group walking and praying for the end of abortion.
Participants met at 8 a.m. in front of Planned Parenthood on Bleecker Street in Lower Manhattan, where they prayed for about 20 minutes. They then began an hourlong kickoff walk toward Father Duffy Square in Times Square, via Sixth Avenue onto West 42nd Street. They walked with white-on-blue “REMEMBER The Unborn” banners and placards, led by LIFE Runners founder Pat Castle.
“We each need to be a witness for life; we need to witness to the communities,” Michael Sweeney, a parishioner of Holy Name of Jesus in Woodbury Parish on Long Island, told The Good Newsroom, the New York archdiocesan online news outlet. “We need to be a voice for the voiceless, giving dignity to the unborn.
“Pregnant women need to know this message, that they are not forgotten; we are with them, supporting them so that they are aware that babies are important – them and the babies. We are united for this cause,” another walker, Amy Meza, said. Meza added she has also participated in the March for Life in Washington Her parish is St. Matthias in the New York borough of Queens in the Brooklyn Diocese.
The A-Cross America Relay for Life began in 2013 and is described by organizers as “the largest pro-life event in the world, spanning 5,359 miles (including other countries).” Kickoff cities also included San Francisco, San Antonio and Grand Forks, North Dakota. This year the relays will end Oct. 8 in Overland Park, Kansas, where the runners’ routes from the four kickoff cities will converge, forming a cross.
“The ‘All In Christ, For Pro-Life’ cheer keeps me going,” Castle told The Good Newsroom. “We’ve been charged to do the things that Jesus did. And Jesus said: Proclaim the kingdom of God, heal the wounded, and deliver people from evil. … We celebrate, defend and promote life – not just our physical lives but life eternal. That inspiration keeps me going, that charge from our Savior.
Moments earlier, he used a bullhorn to lead the walkers in prayer and cheer and talked about the importance of the cause.
In all, there were 17 participants including Sister Mary Margaret Hope, a Sister of Life, who joined the group halfway on the walk and offered words of support and encouragement using Castle’s bullhorn at Father Duffy Square.
LIFE Runners promotes the efforts of post-abortion counseling groups, including Support After Abortion, a nonprofit organization that works with more than 800 agencies to “individualize the care that a person impacted by abortion receives to find the hope and healing they deserve.”
Through an After Abortion Line, the organization connects those seeking healing with those who provide healing; and through webinars, clinical meetings, conference training, their online learning platform, curriculum, and resources, they equip leaders, counselors, clinicians and other abortion healing providers to support those impacted by abortion.