More than 700 students, faculty, administrators, alumni and friends gathered on a seasonably cold day at the University of Notre Dame for a Day for Life on Jan. 21 to bear joyful witness to the inalienable and equal dignity of every member of the human family, born and unborn.
The observance began at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart with a Mass for Life, celebrated by University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
“Our march will be a witness to the love that conquers all things,” Father Jenkins said in his remarks at the end of Mass. “Let our march begin, then, and let us walk together in love, compassion and confidence in the ultimate victory of Christ over sin and death.”
After Mass, Father Jenkins joined the assembled crowd in front of the Main Building for the march, led by Notre Dame Right to Life, the University’s largest student club. Walking peacefully through campus, the ND Day for Life concluded with a rally on the Hesburgh Library Quad, where speakers from throughout the University community urged the marchers to continue their work to build a culture of life. (Watch video highlights of the march and rally here.)
“We see and follow the thread that connects our commitments to antiracism, care for the poor, healing the sick, welcoming the refugee and the immigrant, educating students and, the cause that brings us here today, protecting the unborn child,” said Ernest Morrell, associate dean for the humanities and equity in the College of Arts and Letters and director of the Notre Dame Center for Literacy Education.
“Notre Dame’s continuing witness is thus an important beacon and a voice needed not just in this country, but in the global public square and international academe,” said Diane Desierto, professor of law and global affairs with a joint appointment at Notre Dame Law School and the Keough School of Global Affairs. “Its leadership, faculty and students — as we see today — are inspiring examples of embracing authentic human dignity that draws in every member of the human family, without distinction or discrimination.”
“We are building a culture of life by embracing and bearing witness to what grounds and animates it — love,” concluded O. Carter Snead, professor of law and director of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture. “The culture of life leads to the creation of a civilization of love, where everyone counts and no one is left behind, as Pope Francis has reminded us many times. That is what we are doing. And what better place to do it than at the Blessed Mother’s University!”
Other speakers at the rally included senior Francine Shaft, president of Notre Dame Right to Life, and Dolly Duffy, executive director of the Alumni Association.
Co-sponsors of the ND Day for Life included Notre Dame Right to Life, University Faculty for Life, Campus Ministry, the Notre Dame Alumni Association and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture.
The University’s travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in the national 2022 March for Life was canceled due to concerns about the highly transmissible COVID-19 omicron variant. Each year, Notre Dame Right to Life partners with the de Nicola Center to send one of the largest undergraduate contingents to the march. Dozens of professors, staff and graduate students also receive travel grants from the de Nicola Center to participate, thanks to the generosity of the center’s donors and benefactors.
The de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture is the locus of pro-life witness and formation at Notre Dame. In addition to sponsoring the University’s annual participation in the March for Life, the de Nicola Center administers the Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal, the nation's preeminent award for heroes of the pro-life movement. The de Nicola Center also offers the annual Notre Dame Vita Institute, an intensive intellectual formation program for current and emerging leaders working in all aspects of the pro-life movement. More than 300 alumni of the ND Vita Institute constitute the leadership of the most prominent pro-life organizations and programs around the globe.
More information about the pro-life programs of the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture are at ethicscenter.nd.edu/prolife.