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17th Annual Respect Life March scheduled for Sunday in Tyrone

The Seventeenth Annual Respect Life March is scheduled for Sunday, January 18 at noon, beginning at Saint Matthew Church in Tyrone.
A prayer service will start the event at the church, and then participants will walk 1.25 miles to Oak Grove Cemetery to the grave of Baby Agnes Doe for another short prayer service.
Participants are encouraged to bring a sign. Also, if individuals are unable to walk the distance, feel free to join in by driving at the end of the procession.
A hot luncheon will be served in the parish hall after the march.
“This event, although sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church, is opened to all,” said parishioner Peter Kreckel. “We encourage participation from all religious denominations. We all have been given the gift of life by our God, who is the only one who has the right to bring that life to an end.
“Whether it is an unborn child in his/her mother’s womb, a disabled child, or an elderly person in the twilight of his/her life, it is their God-given right to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the very building rocks with which this great nation was found.”
Kreckel gave an in-depth background of why participants annually walk to the grave site of Baby Agnes Doe.
He said the remains of a female infant were discovered in an abandoned dump on Kerbaugh Road near Bellwood on February 5, 1987. After months of investigation, the remains of the baby were turned over to the Knights of Columbus.
A “Mass of the Angels” was celebrated on June 20, 1987, giving the child the dignified Christian burial that she deserved. She was then given the name Baby Agnes Doe, after Saint Agnes, the patron Saint of little girls.
Her remains were then buried in a plot of land set aside by St. Matthew Parish that would serve as a focal point for Pro-Life activities.
According to Kreckel, Father Strittmatter said of the burial, “This little girl lived only a few days, if only we could accomplish so much in a lifetime.”
Kreckel said, “Every January the Knights of Columbus sponsors the Respect Life March from St. Matthew Church to Oak Grove Cemetery to pay respect to Baby Agnes, and to reflect on the atrocities caused by our society’s lack of respect of human life at all stages.
“Although most Pro-Life people focus on the abortion issue, attention is drawn to respect life at all stages from conception to a natural death.”
According to Kreckel, there are a variety of reasons participants walk to the grave site every year.
“We all gather strength from each other in this movement,” said Kreckel. “We all need to take time to walk and reflect on what needs to be done to respect life.
“A lot of people are unable to make the trip to Washington D.C. on January 22, the Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion in 1973. This is an opportunity for those to make a public statement that they are opposed to killing the unborn, but are unable to participate in the March for Life in Washington D.C.”
The march has grown and changed tremendously over the years. The average attendance had been approximately 125 participants each year. Since Father Joseph Orr joined St. Matthew Parish and has become part of the march, crowds have grown. Over 220 people participated last year.
According to Kreckel, this year the church is encouraging the Newman Clubs from Penn State Altoona and Pitt Johnstown to spread the word on their college campuses about the march.
“We are finding some of the most ardent supporters in the Pro-Life movement are college students,” added Kreckel.
The Knights of Columbus would like to acknowledge the support from numerous individuals and groups that make this march a success.
First, the Tyrone Borough with Chief Joe Beachem, and the police force help to provide the security for the march. The Tyrone Fire Police are also there to provide security for all the marchers.
They would like to thank Father Orr for all he has done in promoting and providing the spiritual guidance to make this event a holy and reflective time.
They would also like to thank Denise Kreckel and her family, along with Mike Ronan and Bob Good who help to provide the luncheon.
The Knights of Columbus Grand Knight Mike Gurekovich provides the leadership of the council and takes care of the logistics. The Fourth Degree Color Corps of the Bishop Garvey Assembly will provide the honor guard for the seventeenth year.
The Daily Herald has helped to promote the event, along with radio station WTRN-AM.
“Of course to the participants who take a couple of hours to show the need to respect life, we are most grateful,” added Kreckel. “We are most delighted to see the youth of our area turn out in force, to show their love for human life.”
For more information on the Seventeenth Annual Respect Life March, contact Kreckel at 684-2898 or email him at pharmcanoe@aol.com