Yana Vizenor, who herself was adopted, marches for life with her classmates in Washington, D.C.

In November, University of Mary freshmen Yana Vizenor and Courtney Jacobson attended their first Prayer Day, and seniors Lily Weber and Katrina Gallic attended their fourth. On that day, President of the March for Life Research and Defense Fund Jeanne Mancini explained the theme of March for Life 2018: Love Saves Lives.

“We live in a culture of walking wounded,” Mancini said in her Prayer Day address. In order to minister to the brokenness of the “walking wounded” and to serve our neighbors whom God himself loves, it is imperative that we believe at the depth of our being that love saves lives. Mancini’s wisdom prepared University of Mary students to experience that reality in a profound way at the 2018 March for Life.

Vizenor, of St. Michael, MN, was struck most by the love that was present throughout the entirety of her pilgrimage to the March for Life.

Vizenor said, “We have love on our side. We’re not fighting or yelling, we’re just using our human capability to love.”

The love at the center of the pro-life movement stood out to others as well. Gallic, a senior, echoed Vizenor’s observation.

University of Mary senior Katrina Gallic (right), with Vice President Mike Pence (left), and his wife Karen (middle), at the pre-March for Life Reception in the Eisenhower Building Thursday, January 18, 2018

“Abortion is the greatest human rights abuse of our time, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the protesters of that abuse were completely resentful. But this is not what the March for Life is like.  Not at all.  While the marchers are heartbroken and horrified by the abuses against life, they are filled with a solemn hopefulness and deep reverence and love for all human life.”

Gallic, a Warren, NJ native, attended a reception dinner at the White House with the vice president as well as the Rose Dinner the subsequent morning.

“At the reception, I was surrounded by many of the top pro-life leaders and was once again edified by their dedication to life. To have these pro-life leaders welcomed into the White House by the vice president was incredible to witness and very encouraging for the future of the pro-life movement.”

Having spoken with pro-life leaders as well as individual marchers, Gallic witnessed change happening at both the administrative level and the ground level.

“To see the pro-life movement being led by the youth—present and future voters— gives me hope that our laws against life will change.”

Yana Vizenor (left) and Courtney Jacobson (right) represent the Pro-Life Generation at the 2018 March for Life in our nation’s capital.

One such youth, Jacobson, a freshman from Kansas City, KS, attended the March for Life for the first time this year.

“What really struck me was when the president and vice president spoke, because it was so obvious that change is happening and we are making a difference— finally, after 45 years,” said Jacobson.

“The president’s words so clearly showed his respect for life and it’s so cool to hear the president speaking about something so near and dear to us in our Catholic faith—the sanctity of human life.”

Jacobson returned to Bismarck filled with hope.

“We have a really powerful generation and if we all step up, we can make a change. Change is imminent” added Jacobson, explaining the transformation she experienced. “Love encompasses the whole mission—love is everything.”

“We march for the babies and their mothers because we love them.”  Those were the words from Fr. Robert Shea’s homily that eloquently set the tone for the March for Life according to Weber, a senior.

Lily Weber (far right) waits with friends in the Rose Garden for the president’s address to the 2018 March for Life.

“Those words of wisdom witnessed to the whole essence of the March for Life and the whole purpose behind our Catholic faith,” the Portland, OR, native explained.

“We march for those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ because they need protection and we love them.”

The students found that this simple reality had profound implications.

Vizenor experienced this in a unique way when, on the bus ride back to Bismarck after the March for Life, she learned that her close friend from high school had died in a tragic ski accident. Within minutes of relating the devastating news to her friends, all three buses of University of Mary students were praying Divine Mercy Chaplets and rosaries for the repose of the young woman’s soul.

Katrina Gallic (left) meets with Lila Rose (right), prominent Pro-Life advocate.

“The moment I heard that my friend passed away,” Vizenor recalled, “the amount of love that poured out was unimaginable. It was so powerful and genuine and everyone on those buses was willing to feel my pain with me. If we can do that— really love, even when it hurts—things will change and love really will save lives.”

Vizenor immediately connected her love for her friend to her love for the unborn.

“I thought of a sign I saw at the March that said ‘⅓ of My Generation is Missing.’ The pain I feel for my friend who is now missing is multiplied by thousands for the friends that I should have had, but who have been missing my entire life.”

Vizenor returned to her freshman year at the University of Mary renewed and strengthened in her love for life.

“For my friend and for these babies, I want to love.  I want to love, especially when it’s hard.  I want to be a part of that love that saves lives.”

These are the young voices of the Pro-life Generation.  They are grounded in hope and are dedicated to witnessing to the goodness of life. They believe in love—love that saves lives.