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Champions for Life on the March
Michigan youth experience solidarity and inspiration on the March for Life.

march for life view of crowd
It is estimated that about 300,000 people participated in the March for Life.

January 29, 2010. When a Christian Life group from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, went to Washington, DC for the March for Life seven years ago, they returned with a sense of mission: they wanted to plan next year’s trip and create a pro-life conference that would attract hundreds of youth in the Detroit area. Through their work, the annual Building Bridges to a Culture of Life conference was born, gathering an average of 200 to 300 participants every year, with organizers from many of the Catholic high schools in the Detroit area, as well as a number of public schools and homeschooling groups.

At the same time, they continued organizing bus trips to the March for Life, dubbing the groups of marchers the “Champions for Life.”

This year, the Champions for Life bus trip brought two buses, totaling about 80 youth and chaperones, to the March for Life in Washington, DC on January 22. During the weekend, they participated in the March, surrounded by a sea of up to 300,000 other marchers, according to an EWTN estimate.

Trying to save our siblings

The youth who participated were struck by a sense of family and solidarity among their fellow marchers:

“What will stay with me is being in the march and realizing that I am not alone. I was surprised by the vast number
kids on march for life
Michigan's marchers in action.
of people present, all standing up for what they believe,” said Christina Calleros, a University of Michigan student and a past Christian Life member.

Shannon DiSalle, a student at Everest Academy in Clarkston, Michigan said, “I felt like the people around me were not strangers, but friends.”

“This was my first march,” said Irene Wilson, “and it was amazing to see all those people there for the same reason. It was like we all were a big family and we were trying to save our little siblings.”

Spiritual and educational

“The trips take the form of a pilgrimage, rather than a field trip or a political activist trip,” said Beth Schuele, one of the adult coordinators for the group. “They are spiritual in nature, with a decidedly Catholic spirituality that focuses on encountering Our Lord Jesus Christ through the sacraments. Mass, confession, adoration, the Rosary, and other Catholic prayers and devotions are a focal point of the trips.”

The goal, she observed, is not just to teach students about abortion, but to form them in the Catholic faith, theology of the body, chastity, and other aspects of the Gospel of life.

This year, the trip included a special visit with Mike Schwartz, Chief of Staff for Oklahoma Senator Tom Colburn, who invited the entire group into Tom Coburn’s Senate office to answer questions and discuss ongoing pro-life efforts on Capitol Hill. Mr. Schwartz was a college student on the committee that organized the first March
with senator
Marchers with Mike Schwartz, Chief of Staff for Oklahoma Senator Tom Colburn.
for Life, 37 years ago, so he had much to share.

For Danny Popiel, a senior at De La Salle high school in Detroit, the Mr Schwartz’s talk was eye-opening.

“I always thought that it was enough to educate students so that they could vote the people into office that would change the abortion laws. I learned a new perspective and new strategies to fight the war,” he said, commenting on the importance of supporting crisis pregnancy centers and engaging in dialogue with pro-choice neighbors and friends.

He added, “This year is my third time going on the March. Each year I experience something different. It’s always incredible to see the vast multitude coming out to be the voice for the voiceless.  The “voice” is composed of people of various religions and beliefs but we stand together with the shout for Life!”

To learn more about the annual pro-life conference in Detroit, Building Bridges to a Culture of Life, visit the web site at



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Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College

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