Large community turnout for 16th Annual Respect Life March

Approximately 200 people braved the cold weather to attend the 16th Annual Respect Life March held by St. Matthew’s Catholic Church on Sunday. The event was sponsored by the St. Gregory Council No. 1218 Knights of Columbus.
To send a pro-life message, the Knights of Columbus adopted the body of an unidentified dead infant found in Antis Township back in 1987. It named the infant Baby Agnes Doe and had a burial service at Oak Grove Cemetery.
Every year since, the Knights lead the Respect Life March from St. Matthew’s Church, through the streets of Tyrone, to the graveside of Baby Agnes Doe, which is nearly 1.25 miles.
“I know in years past we’ve had at least 100 people from other parishes, denominations, and towns,” said Mary Boscaino, director of religious education at St. Matthew’s.
The Respect Life March was open to the public, and people had the option to walk in the procession or follow in cars.
“It’s pretty impressive, especially when you see people well-known in the community participating,” added Boscaino.
Another aspect of the day that Boscaino feels is important is youth participation.
“We just think it’s important for the kids to be a part of the walk because instead of having CCD class on this particular day, we think that they can learn a lot from the people who come and see that there is a lot of public outpouring of support for pro-life issues,” she said. “It helps them to see that it reaches beyond their local church and local community.”
Students of St. Matthew’s religious education classes are encouraged to attend the march in lieu of their regularly scheduled classes for the day.
“Last year it was so full, it was amazing to see. All the tables were taken up,” said Boscaino of the turn-out for the event.
The activities for the day started with coffee and doughnuts in Harkins Hall. Then at 12 p.m., participants attended a brief opening prayer service at St. Matthew’s Church, lead by Father Joseph T. Orr, priest at St. Matthew’s.
“This is fairly unique,” said Father Orr, for Tyrone to have an organized, annual local march.
Father Orr has participated in three Respect Life Marches at Tyrone. At other parishes, he has traveled as far as Washington D.C. to march for the pro-life cause.
“You always want more. I’d like to see every single person from the parish,” Father Orr stated about the turnout for the local march.
“And there’s a lot of people who are concerned about human rights in our community. I’d love to see all Christians turn out for something like this.”
Father Orr believes that the march sends a message to the parish and community. However, involvement in the activity is the key to strengthen the commitment to the pro-life cause.
“I’ve noticed people who get involved in pro-life demonstrations become very committed,” explained Father Orr.
“If there is anybody who would like to know more about what the pro-life movement means, they’re welcome to contact Peter Kreckel or myself, and we’d be glad to talk to them about it.”
Father Orr lead the opening prayer service at St. Matthew’s Church. Then almost 200 participants filed out of the pews, grabbed their pro-life signs, and braved the frigid temperatures to march up to Oak Grove Cemetery.
The Tyrone fire police and borough police provided security for the procession through the streets.
As the people walked to the graveside of Baby Agnes Doe, they chanted three times at each intersection along the way, “A baby has a right to life. A baby has a right to liberty. A baby has a right to happiness.”
When they reached Oak Grove Cemetery, Sister Rosella Lacovitch, family life director for the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, lead the graveside prayer service. Sister Lacovitch talked of the atrocities of abortion in the U.S. as well as any lack of respect for life, unborn or born.
After the service, a hot luncheon was provided for all who were involved with the Respect Life March by Mrs. Denise Kreckel and family at Harkins Hall.