March for Life Youth Rally Was Filled with Moments of Grace
By Leslie Palma-Simoncek
Director of Communications
You’ve no doubt heard that the Lord works in mysterious ways. Keep reading to see if you can detect the Lord at work during the first-ever March for Life Youth Rally in Washington, D.C.
More than 1,000 young people were gathered at the rally hosted by Bryan Kemper, youth outreach director for Priests for Life, when a dozen protesters suddenly stood up from their chairs in the Hyatt Regency ballroom and began chanting the same old pro-abort slogans, like “We say pro-choice, you say no choice,” and a new one, “Occupy Pro-Life!”
Kevin Burke, a member of Priests for Life’s Pastoral Team and a co-founder of Rachel’s Vineyard, the world’s largest post-abortion healing ministry, was headed down the hotel escalator to check out the rally when he saw the protesters being escorted out by hotel security. He struck up a conversation with a man who also was wondering what all the fuss was about, and the two men were soon discussing abortion. The man confided that he was the father of several aborted children and Burke told him that he specializes in dealing with the regret and guilt many post-abortive men feel. Burke suggested that the man stop in at the rally and listen to some of the speakers. The man said that maybe he would.
Whatever happened after that is in the Lord’s hands, but one thing is certain. The protesters didn’t persuade anyone to abandon their pro-life beliefs, but they might have helped put one man on the path to healing.
The protestors also provided a moment of grace, because as they were screaming in anger and bitterness, the pro-life youth responded by kneeling in prayer.
“You know what that means, what you just saw,” asked an elated Kemper. “We’re winning!”
The three-hour rally was full of moments of grace, with speakers from many of the nation’s biggest pro-life groups urging young people to greater activism and equipping them with the tools they’ll need. The group called Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust (a name that describes anyone born since the 1973 legalization of abortion) even distributed “activist starter kits.”
The last speakers of the evening were from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign – men and women who exercised their right to choose and have regretted it ever since. Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life and co-founder of Silent No More, said these men and women are among the most courageous pro-lifers because they stand up in public, take responsibility for ending the lives of their unborn children, and warn others of the consequences of choice.
Kelly Clinger, a recording artist who was joined by her husband, Matt Clinger, to talk about their two abortions, said she decided to become Silent No More when she realized “I’m not just a singer anymore. I’m a voice.”
The final speaker, Julia Holcomb, held the youthful audience spellbound as she described her relationship with the Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler in the 1970s, and the late-term abortion that led to their breakup, and to her redemption. She was 17 years old, and Tyler’s legal ward, when he said she would have to choose between him and the baby – a baby they both initially wanted.
“I chose him,” Ms. Holcomb said. “I made the wrong choice.”
Tyler, now an “American Idol” judge, has portrayed Ms. Holcomb in the most unflattering light in two books and she said she is speaking out now to set the record straight and to let other women know that even if they, too, made the wrong choice, that God’s forgiveness is available to anyone who asks.
As TV monitors showed a new music video produced by the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, other women in the audience who are part of the campaign joined Ms. Holcomb, the Clingers and Mrs. Morana on the stage in a powerful intergenerational moment of solidarity and hope.