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Bishop McGovern asks marchers to be advocates for life

The Joost family of Swansea have always been active in the Pro-Life Movement.

Twenty-two years ago Lyndon Joost and his wife Elaine found out that they were about to give birth to a daughter with extreme disabilities.

“We made that choice for life,” Lyndon said.

“All the excuses people give for terminating such a pregnancy could have been the excuses we used,” Elaine added.

The Joosts and their 22-year-old daughter Emily were among the more than 200 people from the Diocese of Belleville who attended the March to the Arch on Saturday, March 6, near St. Louis’ Central West End. In total, about 600 people attended the march.

For the Joosts, one of the highlights of the March was hearing Bishop Michael McGovern’s address to the marchers, which was followed by a 1.5 mile Rosary Walk near the Planned Parenthood facility on Forest Park Ave. in St. Louis.

Organizers said the St. Louis Planned Parenthood is the last abortion facility in the state of Missouri.

The event was sponsored by the Coalition for Life, and co-sponsored by the Diocese of Belleville’s Respect Life Ministry, the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and many other pro-life groups.

Unlike past years, the march did not end at the Gateway Arch because of pandemic-related modifications to the route.

In his remarks, Bishop McGovern asked those in attendance to become educated about life issues and to serve as confident advocates.

“The more facts people hear the more people become pro-life,” he said.

The bishop added that every one attending should be able to name four places where a woman in crisis can turn.

“The love in our hearts shapes how we see things and motivates us to work for the health and safety of children waiting to be born,” he told the marchers.

The bishop also spoke about the Project Rachel ministry (a ministry of the Catholic Church in the U.S. to those who have been involved in abortion) and how it provides companionship on the journey of reconciliation and healing. Bishop McGovern invited everyone to learn more about this important ministry by visiting the Diocese of Belleville’s website at www.diobelle.org.

Doug and Jill Lugge and their son Thomas, now a seminarian at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, also attended the march. Jill, a volunteer at the Pregnancy Crisis Center in Belleville, recalled how she was one of 13 children, whose parents instilled in her the importance of life. She pointed out that the motto of this year’s march was “Love them Both.”

“The mother and the unborn child deserve our love and prayers,” she said.

For many years the Lugges organized bus trips to the Washington, D.C. March for Life. The March to the Arch served as this year’s pilgrimage for the family.

According to Wendy Fink, the Diocese of Belleville’s Respect Life coordinator, the focus of the march was preserving the dignity of all life, and increasing awareness of Project Rachel.

Among the speakers were Archbishop Mitchell Rozanksi of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Kathy Lesnoff, a nurse who formerly helped perform abortions, and who later started Mosaic Pregnancy and Health Centers, Steve Rupp, president of Missouri Right to Life; Hope Miller of Crusaders for Life; Reagan of Students for Life; and President Matthew Harrison of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

Lesnoff spoke about her spiritual fight in her life from being suicidal to opening up Mosaic and her mobile units to provide medical care for women who are abortion vulnerable.

Barb Reinholz, sponsor of Gibault’s Students for Life, has taken a group of Gibault students to the March for Life in Washington for more than a decade.

“When this year’s trip was canceled, our Students for Life leaders wanted to focus on the March to the Arch,” she said. “Coalition for Life did a great job organizing the event and God gave us a beautiful day, and we made the most of every minute.”

Gibault High School students spent time at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery since they could not go to Arlington National Cemetery, before attending the march.

After the march Bishop McGovern enjoyed lunch with the Gibault students, then celebrated 4 p.m. Mass and a dinner in the Cathedral of St. Peter Undercroft to round out the day.

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