STAND FOR TRUTH
1/21/2019By Andrew Fowler
Eleven years ago, the Fall River Diocese could no longer support a bus trip to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life. Father Arnold Medeiros, former pastor at St. Patrick Parish in Wareham, Mass., turned to the only group he thought could revive the program: the Knights of Columbus.
A Knight himself, Father Medeiros approached Kevin Ward and other members of Father Francis E. Grogan Council 15280 about continuing a pilgrimage to the March. The council members immediately stepped up to help. Through word of mouth, the Cape Cod Bus for Life program has attracted Knights and their families on the Cape, as well as parishioners and members of religious orders throughout New England, including some as far as Maine.
For travelers on the bus trip, participating in the March for Life is an opportunity to put their faith into action.
“If you’re a Knight, you should be standing up for truth,” said Ward. “Hopefully people understand that [abortion] is very evil. …It’s up to us to show people that the Church’s teachings are correct.”
This year, there were almost 100 passengers traveling with the Cape Cod Bus for Life packed into two buses, including one specifically for youth led by Father Ron Floyd, a Knight as well as the chaplain at St. John Paul II High School in Hyannis, Mass. Ward believes the bus trip provides an educational opportunity not only for himself, but for Knights, their families, parishioners and students.
“People come with us to the March sometimes for the first time and they learn about all the different things that the culture of death does,” said Ward. “I wouldn’t have known those things if I didn’t get involved in this bus or start coming to the March for Life.”
The Knights of Columbus has been involved with every March for Life since the first march in 1974. Knights are among the hundreds of thousands that attend the event every year, including more than 500 College Knights. Members have donated over hundreds of thousands of dollars to the March for Life Education and Defense Fund in 2018, as well as handing out thousands of signs that read “Love Life, Choose Life.”
Their efforts, including the Cape Cod Bus for Life, are not going unnoticed, as it has attracted men to join the Knights.
“The reason why I am a Knight of Columbus is because of the culture of life,” said Joe DiePietro from Council 13845 in Wrentham, Ma. “I read about the Knights’ participation in the March for Life before I joined, and that’s what attracted me to the Order.”
Ward and Knights from around the Cape raised over $29,000 to sponsor the bus trip through golf tournaments, spaghetti dinners and poker nights. The councils also sponsored scholarships to help people attend the March in past years.
“It raises awareness,” said Vince Armstrong, a Knight who helped organize the bus trip. “In the secular world, you don’t hear about this, even though there is half a million people down here.”
Meanwhile, Father Floyd led over 30 students whose ages ranged from 11 to 19 years old down to the March for Life. The group spent their first night at George Mason University at a youth group event called “Life is VERY Good,” sponsored by the Diocese of Arlington.
Father Floyd has been traveling with youth groups from around Cape Cod to the March for Life for 10 years. He brings students down to witness the “profound” experience of people around the country gathering for the pro-life movement and to give them the opportunity to practice their faith.
“My hope is that they take away that courage to speak out even when challenged by the world, that they’re not alone,” said Father Floyd.
He also wanted the students to see how groups, like the Knights of Columbus, encourage their members to practice their Catholic faith by strengthening fraternal bond between one another.
“I think it’s really hard for anyone to live their faith alone,” said Father Floyd. “Do not be afraid to find good friends who share your faith, who share your values, that support each other and to build each other up.”
The Cape Cod Bus for Life also gave other travelers a new perspective on the Knights of Columbus, including Jackie Hickey from Buzzards Bay, Mass.
“It’s a great group of people that want to give back to their community,” said Hickey. “They’re a very generous organization.”
To Knights, including DiPietro, the bus trip is an opportunity to change hearts and evangelize.
“People literally have a change of heart on this trip,” said DiPietro. “It changes hearts and minds and it’s not just the actual trip or the actual marching that changes hearts and minds, it’s the evangelization that we need to do in order to get people on the trip.”
To other Knights, including Steve Minninger, a Knight and deacon at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Hyannis, Ma., being present at the March for Life reinvigorated his own faith with people that share his beliefs.
“Because of the Cape Cod Bus for Life, it was the vehicle that made it possible to join a group that made the commitment for Life,” said Minninger. “The Cape Cod bus allowed me that opportunity to join other like-minded people and express our belief and state our faith that life is sacred.”
The Knights on the trip never forgot about why they were traveling. During the ride to and from Washington, the group would say the rosary. At the end of each decade, the riders added, “Jesus protect and save the unborn.”
To defend Life, from conception to natural death, join the Knights.
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