Separated but united: Moving the Movement tour stops in Omaha
January 21, 2021
Pro-life crowd stays in vehicles while offering enthusiasm, prayers and support for the unborn
On a chilly Jan. 10 afternoon, about 200 people sat in warm vehicles in a high school parking lot, tuning in their radios to hear inspirational messages from pro-life speakers and honking their horns – even revving their engines – in loud support.
Then participants hit the road, holding pro-life signs out their windows and again honking with abandon as they processed along a couple of major Omaha thoroughfares.
It wasn’t a typical pro-life event, but the rally, called Moving the Movement, allowed people to support pro-life organizations and speak out for the more than 130,000 babies aborted annually in Midwest states, according to a tally by event organizers based on public health records.
Moving the Movement, organized by March for Life Chicago, has been providing a safe way for pro-lifers throughout the Midwest to make their voices heard this year in lieu of participation in the Chicago event, giving them an opportunity to rally, demonstrate and pray together closer to home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 3 p.m. gathering in Omaha began in the parking lot of V.J. and Angela Skutt Catholic High School. It was the second stop in Moving the Movement’s four-week tour, including six Midwest cities. The Archdiocese of Omaha, Bellevue Christian Center and Lifegate Church in Omaha served as hosts.
An organization called weDignify, which offers pro-life mentoring on college campuses, helped organize the city-to-city tour, along with a host of Christian and pro-life groups.
Speakers, wearing warm coats and hats, addressed the crowd from a stage. Their talks were brief.
The Rev. Les Beauchamp, lead pastor of Lifegate Church in Omaha, led prayer, begging God for mercy for the United States and to “turn the tide of death,” for help for mothers, that “every life in the womb be preserved,” and that participants’ prayers would send “shock waves” into a dark culture.
Deacon Tim McNeil, chancellor of the archdiocese and director of the Office of the Permanent Diaconate, borrowed a line from Charles Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities,” telling participants they are simultaneously “in the best of times” and “the worst of times.”
The worst times is accurate, he said, because abortion has become the “genocide of our times,” mothers are being coerced into abortions and a new U.S. administration is likely to undo many pro-life protections.
“But I say it is the best of times,” Deacon McNeil said. God has called people and empowered them for this time in history, to proclaim the good news of the Gospel, to repent and return to Jesus, he said.
“We are blessed to be called at this time to defend life, and that’s a reason for rejoicing.”
Also speaking were Lauren Garcia, communications and outreach specialist for the Nebraska Catholic Conference; Pat Castle, founder of the LIFE Runners pro-life organization; Jet Paronable, a nursing student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and a member of the Abortion Dialogue Academy who has influenced supporters of abortion to become pro-life; and Kevin Grillot, executive director of weDignify.
Lt. Gov. Mike Foley had been scheduled to speak but was unable to attend because of a family matter, organizers said.
TAKING TO THE ROAD
After the speeches, a procession of vehicles traveled from Skutt, near 156th Street and West Center Road, east along Center toward 72nd Street, then north on 72nd to Dodge Street. Participants held signs out windows, including ones that read, “I March for Life” and “Love Them Both.”
Lindsay Headley, a science teacher at Norfolk Catholic High School and a moderator of the school’s Knights for Life club, drove to the rally with her daughter Miranda, 14. They caravanned with Janice Christensen, who leads a Norfolk Right to Life group, and her family.
Headley said she liked the message of Paronable, who said he was helped by a prayer partner each time he approached someone to talk about abortion. “With the power of prayer he was able to change people’s minds,” she said.
She said Miranda, who plans to compete in cross country at Norfolk Catholic, wanted to get a LIFE Runners shirt after hearing Castle, the organization’s leader.
Moving the Movement participants have been encouraged to donate diapers for local pregnancy resource centers, with the goal of collecting 130,094 diapers, one for each baby aborted in the Midwest.
About 5,000 were collected during the Omaha drive. They were divided up among several pregnancy resource centers.