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Future Detroit Priests Stand up to Give Witness to the Importance of Pro-Life Movement

March for Life another aspect of priestly formation for Sacred Heart seminarians.

by Dan Meloy

Among the hundreds of thousands of people who were in Washington, D.C., on January 18, calling for the protection of future generations at the March for Life, the next generation of Detroit priests were there to give witness to Christ's love of creation.

Among the dozens of Detroit groups organizing pilgrimages, Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit sent a group of men discerning the priesthood to the steps of the U.S. Capitol, allowing the future of Detroit's clergy to see the front lines of the battle for the protection and dignity of all human life. 

"I have been to the march for three years before going into the seminary," said John Carlin, a third-year theology student at Sacred Heart for the Archdiocese of Detroit. "I just love coming out to the march every year. I remember my first time walking into the Verizon Center and seeing all these young people who are all pro-life people, and just thinking how sacred life is."

by Dan Meloy

Standing in a cold and muddy National Mall surrounded by fellow pro-lifers from around the country, Carlin said the march is more than a demonstration against abortion, but is intended to be a celebration of all life, from conception to natural death.

"I know there are a lot of different groups out there — Atheists for Life, Feminists for Life, Orthodox for Life — everyone here is giving witness to life," Carlin said. "But life is not just a thing, it is a person. It is Jesus Christ in every one of us. At that very moment we are conceived, we have the sanctity of life with Jesus. 

"One of the (themes) they are using this year is 'Unique from Day One.' And as one of my heroes, Bishop Fulton Sheen said, 'You can't love a God you do not see, if you can't love the people you see around you.' And part of that is celebrating life and loving the people around you."

For first-time marcher Drew Mabee, a third-year theology seminarian, the march is a great way to give witness to the glory and greatness of God's creation and the need to defend that creation.

"The classic passage is, 'Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you,' (Jeremiah 1:5)" Mabee said. "I think the reality is, that God, even before the moment of conception, knows us and has a plan for us and a plan for our lives. That we are not just another number. We are made in His own image and likeness, and He is so in love with us that He become man and went to the cross to die for us."

The seminarians were carrying their own Sacred Heart Major Seminary banner, but were staying nearby with fellow marchers from the Archdiocese of Detroit who congregated beneath a giant red "Unleash the Gospel" banner.

Mabee added that going to the March for Life is just another aspect of priestly formation, helping seminarians to learn what it truly means to follow Christ to the ends of the earth.

"The reality is that we manifest our love for God, certainly in words, but really in our deeds," Mabee said. "We are here to offer a sacrifice of praise to God for the gift of life and the sacredness of life from conception until natural death. To be here, to take our lives and physically place ourselves in the elements, it is a great gift and a great honor.

"It is very much in light of the new evangelization and the document from the archbishop, Unleash the Gospel, that we are here, and the Lord invites us to go forth and make known another aspect of living out the Gospel."

Beyond giving a personal witness to the sanctity of life, Sacred Heart seminarian David Pellican added it is important for the lay faithful to see the seminarians take the pro-life cause seriously, adding that marching in Washington is another way for men discerning the priesthood to see how important the pro-life cause is to their potential future parishioners.

"I think it is important for seminarians to be at the march, because this is one of the biggest Catholic gatherings we have," said Pellican, a third-year theology seminarian. "Supporting life is central to our mission as a Church. I hope that because of this march, as what was said at the youth rally at the Verizon Center before the march, that in difficult times, the Lord usually raises up saints. 

"As a seminarian, it is truly inspiring to see young people on fire for their faith," Pellican continued. "It is important as seminarians and, God-willing, future priests, to really stand and support all the wonderful people who will most likely one day be our parishioners. Just to be here and give witness and show that we stand with them in proclaiming this to be one of the most important civil rights issues of our time: the right to live, to be born, and to love. 

"That is why we as seminarians are here, to see how much it matters to the people here, and demonstrate that as witnesses to Christ, we stand here to give witness to life and a God who loves us all."

Dan Meloy

Dan is a staff writer for the Archdiocese of Detroit.

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.