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Archives Young women say March was ‘empowering’

Feb. 5, 2020

By Darcy Fargo

For two young women who attended the March for Life, the event was “beautiful” and “empowering.”

Madonna Champagne, a junior at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music and, attended the March for Life with the diocesan Campus Ministry program.

“I’ve wanted to go for a while, and I was finally able to do it this year,” Champagne, a Malone native, said. “I think it’s such a major issue, and people aren’t well informed about it. These children are people. They can’t speak for themselves. Someone needs to speak for them.”

Champagne’s sentiment was echoed by Emma Heiland, a high school senior from Star Lake, who attended the March with the diocesan Youth Buses for Life. It was Heiland’s third trip to the nation’s capital for the March.
“For me, it’s important to give a voice to those who wouldn’t necessarily have a voice if we didn’t march for them,” she said. “All life has value. I’m using my voice to spread that message.”

Both young women said they had great experiences, starting with the transportation to the March.

“We had two vans,” Champagne said. “I was in both at various points. It was so much fun. Everyone was so loving. There was a lot of laughing on the way down. We played a lot of car games. When we started, I at least knew everyone by name, but we all became a lot closer. It was a beautiful experience.”

“One of the things that stuck out for me was in a video we watched on the bus ride down,” Heiland said. “It was about a mom who went to an abortion clinic. She was told her baby had 10 fingers and 10 toes, and it made a difference to her. She gave her child up for adoption.”

Heiland said she knew many of the youth marchers from other diocesan functions and Camp Guggenheim.

“We were all singing worship songs together,” she said. “And we were all there supporting each other and supporting a cause that’s important to us. While I knew most of the people there, I met a few new people. It’s always a blessing to meet new people.”

In fact, Heiland helped spread the word about the Youth Buses for Life and recruited participants.

At the March, Champagne said she was struck by the size of the crowd and the peaceful and prayerful nature of the event.

“As we were walking, you’d hear a group praying the Rosary,” she said. “Then you’d hear another group praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. It was so beautiful to see. There were so many people holding rosaries. It was something magical. You could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. And just the pure number of people at the March itself is overwhelming, but in a good way. Every person was full of joy, even though we were all sad that we still have to march for this cause.”

Heiland said she was also excited to hear President Trump address the March.

“It’s amazing to have a president who is behind our movement and us,” she said.

Both Heiland and Champagne said they were also impressed by the Pro-Life Summit the groups attended.

“The Pro-Life Summit was the best part of the weekend,” Heiland said. “It was great being surrounded by like-minded youth, and there were so many amazing speakers. They weren’t sugar coating anything. They were encouraging us to use our own voices.”

“At the Pro-Life Summit, there was a speaker who told us about a time she was in a debate,” Champagne said. “She said the woman she was debating suggested there were circumstances in which a woman should have an abortion. The speaker told her, ‘let me lay out a scenario for you. There was a woman who sometimes has to get between her husband and her kids because he could be violent. They live in poverty. She has four kids and is pregnant with a fifth. It’s a mixed-race child. What should she do? Abort that child? That child was me.’

People think circumstances change what’s right. They don’t. That was a beautiful example. That woman has spoken in front of presidents and royalty. She highlighted that it’s not our right to say who should live.”

Champagne said she also felt blessed to be able to celebrate Mass every day during the trip.

“Bishop (Terry R.) LaValley said Mass in the hotel lobby one day,” she noted. “It was so cool! People were walking in and out. It might have been their first experience of Mass. It was a good reminder that the Church isn’t the buildings, even though there are some really beautiful churches. The Church is the people.”
Both young women said the event moved them.

“It’s really empowering,” said Heiland. “It was amazing being with like-minded youth and seeing all the support. I really want to thank (diocesan Respect Life Coordinator) Colleen Miner and all the chaperones for making this possible and making the weekend so special.”

“It’s one of the most peaceful and beautiful experiences you can have,” Champagne said. “I feel like I don’t even have the right words for it. The cause is so great. I think people want to just sweep things under the rug, but nothing changes unless we put ourselves out there. That’s what God wants us to do.”

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