By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News
Canada’s bishops will be well-represented at the 15th National March for Life in Ottawa May 10 or at similar events in their own provinces says Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast.
“I expect the same level as last year overall,” he said, noting several bishops will be attending from Quebec, including Quebec Archbishop Gerald Lacroix, the new Montreal Archbishop Christian Lépine and the new Gatineau Archbishop Paul-André Durocher.
Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins will be participating in the events on Parliament Hill, said Prendergast. There is also usually representation by the Toronto and Eastern Canada Ukrainian Catholic Eparch Stephen Chmilar and others.
More than a dozen bishops participated in last year’s March for Life, which drew 15,000 people, the largest crowd in the event’s history. Organizers expect this year’s March to exceed last year’s record turn-out. An additional 10,000 participated in marches organized in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, with even higher numbers anticipated for this year.
“Several bishops have replied to my invitation to participate in the national March for Life with regrets because they will be involved in local events of a similar kind on or about the same day,” said Prendergast.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has adopted a new pastoral initiative on life and family that recommends bishops participate in the National March for Life or similar local events.
The plan, entitled National Pastoral Initiative for Life and Family: A Fundamental Option for Life and the Family, can be found at the CCCB.ca website through the Life and Family page accessed through the “Our Church in Canada and in the World” link on the front page.
“The CCCB has decided to focus on family and life issues, so the March for Life is seen as contributing to this,” said Prendergast.
“I think those who attend the March will discover that there is lots of energy, zest and joy among those who take up the cause of life,” he said. “Yes, we are saddened by the loss of life to abortion, but we believe in affirming life, helping women struggling with a pregnancy they feel unprepared for and celebrating the joy that a newborn brings to the parents and to all of us.”
Sault Ste-Marie Bishop Jean-Louis Plouffe will celebrate the Mass on the eve of the March at St. Theresa’s Parish on Somerset St.; Archbishop Lacroix will preside at the francophone Mass at Sacré-Coeur Church on the Corner of Cumberland and Laurier; Peterborough Bishop Nicola De Angelis will celebrate an Anglophone Mass at St. Patrick’s Basilica on Kent St.; and Archbishop Prendergast will celebrate a bi-lingual Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica.
The March will also have more Members of Parliament than last year, as many MPs were busy in their ridings after last May’s federal election.
Usually about 25 MPs from the Parliamentary Pro-Life Caucus greet the crowd and attend various March for Life events.