First walk for life at St. Mary of Lourdes, Germantown Hills, takes unique paths

The first-ever walk for life at St. Mary of Lourdes in Germantown Hills took people past the monument for the unborn in the parish cemetery. Here Ileen Grebner, director of faith formation (left), stands with members of the Verdun, Cox and Hogan families and their friends. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

GERMANTOWN HILLS — In some ways, the first-ever walk for life at St. Mary of Lourdes Parish last Sunday was like any other walk for life in that people braved the cold of a January day to show their support for human life from the moment of conception until natural death.

That doesn’t mean it wasn’t unique.

Lindsay Verdun and Brooke Stamm carry boxes of baby items that were donated as part of the first-ever walk for life at St. Mary of Lourdes Parish in Germantown Hills. The items will be donated to the St. Gianna Baby Pantry at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Peoria. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Instead of carrying large signs and posters bearing pro-life messages, parishioners and friends of St. Mary of Lourdes carried rosaries. Instead of chants and cheers, they prayed or talked quietly. Instead of going to federal and state courthouses, they walked through the parish cemetery to make connections between the past and the future and what is important now.

“It’s just so important to be a person who can visibly show that life is important to them — all aspects of life, not just the unborn but all aspects of life,” said Joyce Heiple, a retired teacher who now serves as a tutor at St. Mary School in nearby Metamora.

“When you come to a cemetery you can pray, which I do,” she continued. “You can kind of say what’s on your heart just by walking. You don’t have to say anything. You can just show it.”

Like Heiple, this was the first walk for life for several of the participants, although others had been to the National March for Life in Washington, D.C., and March for Life Chicago. Among them was Sarah Hogan, director of religious education and teacher at St. Vincent de Paul in Peoria.

“Without anything going on nationally, I felt compelled to do something, to offer our time and our prayer today for the unborn and a greater respect for all life,” Hogan told The Catholic Post.

“Even though the march isn’t happening in Washington and on a grand scale, it’s still important to be present for the unborn,” added her friend, Maddie Mangieri of St. Jude Parish in Peoria. “And we like opportunities like this to pray and spend our time that way.”

CLOSE TO HOME

“The different people who are coming out and getting to know each other . . . all have that common interest of honoring life at all ages, especially in the womb,” said Ileen Grebner, director of faith formation at St. Mary of Lourdes. She and Lindsay Verdun organized the walk with the support of Father Greg Jozefiak, who is in residence there, and Deacon Bill Read.

After the first-ever walk for life at St. Mary of Lourdes in Germantown Hills, Father Greg Jozefiak and Deacon Bill Read lead participants in praying the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“It was the opportunity to have something in their own backyard that made it so easy for them,” she said. “And it’s a prayerful time. Father Greg walks it in the evening and prays the rosary.”

Even if participants prayed the rosary as they walked through the cemetery and parish grounds, some stopping at the Marian grotto, a small group stayed to pray the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary led by Father Jozefiak and Deacon Read in the church before dispersing.

He noted that Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, had called respect for life the “pre-eminent priority.”

“All of the other rights are based on the right to life. You can’t get around that,” Father Jozefiak told The Post. “So if we lose this, anything and everything then is ambiguous. It can be whatever the people in power can determine.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the day have been posted to an album on The Catholic Post’s Facebook page.

 

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