On Thursday, January 22, 2015, representatives from the St. Tikhon’s Community traveled to Washington DC to support the 42th Annual March for Life. The theme for this year’s March was “Every Life is a Gift,” and had a special focus on babies diagnosed in utero with fetal abnormalities, 85% of which are currently aborted in the US.
Thursday morning began with a visit by members of the St. Tikhon’s Community to the March for Life expo hall. While there, they attended a talk given by Senator Rick Santorum, who is the parent to a child with a chromosomal disorder, trisomy 18, and by Joshua Duggar, pro-life advocate. They also got a chance to spend time exploring the large expo hall, where various political, religious, and social organizations had booths. Some of these booths were handing out informational pamphlets, others were selling books or souvenirs, and others were providing information on how to become more involved in the pro-life movement, from becoming more politically active to helping to foster a “culture of life” within our own communities.
Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision made abortion on demand the law of the land, millions of innocent children have died, their lives snuffed out while still in their mothers' wombs. And for over four decades, hundreds of thousands of marchers have gathered annually in Washington, DC in mid-January to protest this decision and proclaim the sanctity of life. This year was no different, and once again the St. Tikhon’s community joined with groups from St. Vladimir’s Seminary and from local Orthodox churches to present a unified presence in the 42th Annual March for Life.
The Hierarchs from the Orthodox Church of America who joined with Hierarchs from other jurisdictions in leading the Orthodox presence during the long walk from the Mall to the Capitol Building were His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon (STOTS 1993) and His Grace, Bishop Michael of New York and New Jersey and Rector of St. Tikhon’s Seminary. Graciously carrying the Icon of the Visitation from St. Michael’s parish in Jermyn, PA, as well as the groups large standards through the pressing crowds for this year were seminarians from St. Tikhon’s Seminary, which included: Jonathan Lincoln, Subdeacon Marshall Goodge, Khader Baramki, Michael Danhofer, Veljko Pejovic, Timothy Winegar, Megan Haak, Mikel Hill, and Joel Brady. Also attending the March were representatives from St. Tikhon’s, including Dr. David Ford, Professor of Church History; V. Rev. John Kowalczyk (STOTS 1975), Director of Field Education and one of the earliest initiators of the Orthodox Church’s presence at the March for Life; V. Rev. Theodore Boback (STOTS 1972), Alumni President; Rev. Ignatius Gauvain (STOTS 2013); as well as representatives from St. Vladimir’s Seminary, and families, friends and loved ones from both institutions, as well as a large representation from the various parish communities throughout the East Coast.
At the conclusion of the March, a memorial service was offered for the millions of unborn who have lost their lives through abortion.
On the evening of the March for Life was the 33rd Annual Rose Banquet. This dinner serves as the conclusion of the activities for the March for Life event, and provides an opportunity for March supporters and planners to discuss the past year’s events and take a look forward to the expectations for the next year.
Following welcoming remarks, the Invocation was offered by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Tikhon (STOTS 1993). His invocation reminded all present that even when faced with the tragedy of abortion, we can take solace in Christ’s victory over death and corruption.
The keynote address was offered by Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, who spoke of the myth in our society that pregnant women are presented with an honest choice during their pre-procedure counseling. He explained that one of the ways that the Knights of Columbus are combating that myth is by providing ultrasound machines to clinics throughout the country so that pregnant women who may be considering abortion can see clear, life-like, 3D imaging of their unborn children.
Among those in attendance at the dinner were His Grace, Bishop Michael of New York and New Jersey; V. Rev. Steven Voytovich, Dean of Saint Tikhon’s Seminary; V. Rev. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor of Saint Vladimir’s Seminary; V. Rev. John Jillions, Chancellor of the OCA; V. Rev. Eric G. Tosi; Melanie Ringa, OCA Treasurer; V. Rev. John Kowalczyk (STOTS 1975), Chancellor of the Diocese of Eastern PA and Director of Field Education at St. Tikhon’s Seminary; Christopher Patton (STOTS 2005), Office and Community Resource Coordinator at St. Tikhon’s Seminary, with his wife Leslie Patton; Seminarian Michael Pierce, with his wife Sophia Pierce; Rev. David Cowan (STOTS 2007) from Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Yonkers, NY; Protodeacon Joseph Matusiak, Director of Admissions of St. Vladimir’s Seminary; Matushka Alexandra Safchuk from St. Mark Orthodox Church in Bethesda, MD; and Daria Petrykowski from Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Parma, OH.
(Article by Sophia Pierce)