By Melanie Sisinni

         Despite the snow on the ground and the harsh chill in the air, over 300 people gathered in Perry Square for Erie’s March for Life on Saturday, Jan. 28. The event was sponsored by People for Life and is a yearly gathering for the pro-life movement in Erie.

Abby and Chris Lyons pose with their five children just
before the beginning of the march.
Photo/Melanie Sisinni

         Among the vast crowd were several parents of young children. Abby and Chris Lyons brought their five kids — ages 11 and younger — with them to the march.

“We just want to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. We think that all children are a gift from God, and so we are here to defend their right to life,” said Abby.

         “God wants every child,” said Chris. “He gave them a soul and he wants them here. Who are we to say that they shouldn’t be?”

         Carol Pfeifle has been an active member of People for Life for at least 20 years. As she helped distribute signs to all who wanted one, she discussed her thoughts on the importance of the march.

         “I think we should be visible,” said Pfeifle. “I think we should be visible so other pro-life people who see us can say, ‘Oh, I'm not alone.’ And then maybe they'll have a voice or be encouraged.”

         Pfeifle added she feels people are afraid of being “cancelled” for sharing their beliefs in the pro-life movement, a sentiment that was echoed throughout the march by many others. She hopes the visibility of the march helps those who are afraid feel encouraged to speak out.

          “Maybe someone will see a sign that will inspire them,” said Pfeifle.

Carol Pfeifle displays one of the many sign designs
carried by those in the march. It reads, "Choose to
care...not kill."
Photo/Melanie Sisinni

         Pfeifle noted there was an emphasis on fatherhood this year, with many signs describing the importance of a father’s role. She said several pro-life groups have begun to focus not only on women’s rights as mothers, but men’s rights as fathers.

         “If a woman can choose whether or not to be a parent, so can the father,” said Pfeifle.

         One demographic that could not go unnoticed at the march was the large number of young adults. There were pro-life groups from both L.E.C.O.M. and Gannon University in attendance.

         Tim Broderick, executive director for People for Life in Erie said there seems to be more energy in the pro-life movement after the Dobbs decision.

          “We’ve always been optimistic that we would prevail,” said Broderick. “One of the real pressure cookers at this time is in academia. We're seeing students-for-life all over the country doing amazing things.”

One of the many students in attendance was seminarian Joe Preston, vice-president of Gannon’s Student’s for Life. Preston gave a speech after the march, discussing what Gannon’s Students for Life group had been doing to promote a culture of life, while also encouraging people to share their beliefs with others. He described “tabling” events where members of Students for Life set up tables and engage those passing by in discussions regarding the pro-life movement.

Gannon University's Students for Life hold the banner they
carried during the March for Life.
Photo/Melanie Sisinni

         “It’s hard work,” said Preston. “I ask you for your prayers, and please be assured of my prayers for all of you, and especially the unborn. Whether you are Catholic or not, evangelization is our mission. We want to convert the culture of death to the culture of life.”

         He encouraged everyone in attendance to discuss the pro-life movement with friends and challenge them to move further with their beliefs.

         “It’s going to be awkward when you start talking about abortion, but the lives of the unborn are worth the awkward, and so much more,” said Preston.

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For more information on People for Life or the Pro-Life movement, visit: https://peopleforlife.org/