Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


North Georgia Pastor Inspired By National March

By GRETCHEN KEISER, Staff Writer | Published February 3, 2011

People from the Archdiocese of Atlanta made the trip to Washington, D.C., including a group from North Georgia College and State University and high school seniors, accompanied by Catholic campus minister Michael Ferrin and Dahlonega pastor Father Bob Frederick, as well as two Legionary of Christ priests, Father John Donaghue and Father Juan Guerra, and their coworkers.

Father Frederick said he had not been to the national March for Life since he was a seminarian 15 years ago and found the experience inspiring and larger than he remembered. The sight of so many diverse people gathering to make a statement about life struck him the most.

“For me it was the numbers of faithful from every walk of life and every vocation that came out in unison to call for an end of abortion and greater respect for the dignity of human life,” he said. “The young people, their enthusiasm and knowledge of the issues, the seminarians from so many different seminaries represented, the clergy and religious arrayed in such a diverse variety of habits and representing so many cultural backgrounds—all standing together, all interceding, all with faith in the power of God who makes the impossible, possible.”

Unofficial estimates of the size of the crowd at the national March for Life ranged from 200,000 to 400,000, he said.

At the vigil Mass celebrated the night before at the National Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the opening procession of cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons and seminarians lasted almost 50 minutes because of the huge number of clergy there, he said.

The morning of the march, Masses were celebrated in at least six arena-size locations and churches, including the Verizon Center, where the Dahlonega group was, which held 22,000, and the Armory.

Asked about his evaluation of the life issues as a pastor, he said, “Respect for life is an extremely significant issue in my eyes with abortion being one of the most alarming as it attacks human life at its most vulnerable stage.”

The attitudes of college-age and high school youth about life concern him greatly, he said.

“However, for students who are making a real effort to grow in their faith, I am very hopeful. I would certainly say that the top 10 percent of students who are practicing their Catholic faith are more knowledgeable, stronger in their faith, and more effective in proclaiming the truth to those around them than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime.”

He also noted that despite the size of the march, the general public won’t know much about it because it was not covered extensively by news media.

“I was saddened that once again the major news networks barely covered the march. One of them even gave the impression that it was difficult to tell which side had more supporters as the feed just showed a close-up of a few marchers and the total of 19 pro-abortion demonstrators at the Supreme Court steps,” Father Frederick said. “I’ve heard about media bias before, but this was perhaps the most shocking example that I’ve personally witnessed.”

At least 12 seminarians of the archdiocese from seminaries in Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Louisiana also came to the March for Life as well as the youth rally and Masses celebrated for life the night before and morning of the march. The seminarians included Mike Revak, Gaurav Shroff, Bradley Starr, Jack Knight, Ian Griffis, Austin Pagano, Cong Nguyen, Tri Nguyen, Jorge Carranza, Mark Starr, Feiser Muñoz and Branson Hipp.