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More than 4,000 people chanted, prayed and carried signs defending life in the seven blocks between the state Capitol and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Student Union Jan. 14 in the annual Walk for Life in Lincoln.

Carmen and Brent Melliger of St. Anthony Parish in Columbus, with five of their seven children, listen to speakers before the march.

More than 4,000 join Lincoln Walk for Life

With messages of love and life, prayer and assistance to those in need in the battle against abortion, more than 4,000 people from across Nebraska came to Lincoln Jan. 14 for the annual Walk for Life.

They included Carmen and Brent Melliger of St. Anthony Parish in Columbus, who brought five of their seven children.

"We want them to know that everyone should be allowed a voice," Carmen said of bringing to the walk Jacob, Thomas, Andrew, Samantha and Louis – ages 12 to eight months. It was the family’s third time at the walk and Carmen estimated she had been there 15 times.

"I want our children to see us active in this movement, so they can continue the fight," Carmen said.

Tim Buresh, a member of Christ the King Parish in Omaha, expressed a similar sentiment when asked why it was important to include more than a dozen middle and high school students with a parish group of about 30 led by Father Damien Cook, pastor.

"We want them to understand the importance of life," Buresh said.

Young and old carried that message in signs that included, "Defend Life," "Huskers for Life," "Physicians for Life" and "Men Regret Lost Fatherhood," as they walked – chanting and praying – seven blocks from the state Capitol to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Student Union.

Before setting out, the crowd heard Sandy Danek, president of rally organizer Nebraska Right to Life, describe the many ways people help those struggling with unexpected pregnancies – including taking them into their own homes, praying for them at abortion clinics and volunteering at pregnancy counseling centers that often provide free ultrasounds and other medical care, as well as parenting, high school equivalency and other classes.

Anti-abortion politicians including Gov. Pete Ricketts, U.S. Sen. Ben Sasse, Rep. Don Bacon and state lawmakers pledged continued efforts to battle abortion, often speaking above a group of pro-choice protesters gathered at the edge of the pro-life crowd.

For the Melligers, Buresh, Father Cook and more than 500 others, the day began across the street from the Capitol, at St. Mary Church, for a standing-room only Mass organized by the Nebraska Catholic Conference. With Archbishop George J. Lucas presiding, the Mass included concelebrants Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Emeritus Robert Finn, Father Cook and numerous other priests.

Father Scott Hastings, the archdiocese’s judicial vicar and vicar for clergy, gave the homily, stressing the importance of life – and even more, the importance of life in Christ.

"It’s a sad thing that brings us here today," Father Hastings said. "But we have lots of good news to respond to that sadness. The glory of God, and the fullness of life in him."

And the event ended at the student union, where a young mother from Sacramento, Calif., talked about her need to reach out to other women after she began a chemically-induced abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic, immediately regretted her decision and through the help of others reversed its effects. She continued to choose life for her son, even after Planned Parenthood officials warned her it could result in severe disabilities for her child and harm to herself.

"Zechariah is everything that Planned Parenthood said he couldn’t be," Rebekah Buell said of her 3-year-old son.

Buell said she now is the outreach coordinator at a pregnancy center, and she gives talks about her experience to groups around the country.

"We can reach out to women in ways that I was not reached," Buell said.

 

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