Pro-Life Message Echoes across West Virginia This Month

John Sherwood Photo/The Catholic Spirit
On Respect Life Sunday, Lori Cascio and her 6-month-old daughter Alice of St. James the Greater Parish in Charles Town join in their parish’s Life Chain in town.

By Colleen Rowan/The Catholic Spirit
“I am the Pro-Life Generation.” This was 24-year- old Lori Cascio’s message to her community of Charles Town on Respect Life Sunday. On this day, she stood—carrying her precious 6-month-old daughter Alice—with more than 35 fellow parishioners from St. James the Greater Parish for a Pro-Life demonstration in town.
This was just one of the numerous Pro-Life events held on Respect Life Sunday and throughout this month of October, which is Respect Life Month. Parishes and Catholic schools across the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston joined in prayerful demonstrations in their communities committed to getting the Pro-Life message out, calling for an end to abortion and respect for all life from conception to natural death.
“We joined our church’s Life Chain to show that our generation is picking up the torch to end abortion in our country,” Lori said. “We have to prayerfully bring abortion to the public square to call attention to the tragedy that’s happening behind abortion facility doors.”
Lori’s commitment to bringing an end to this tragedy goes beyond Respect Life Month. It is her vocation. She is the West Virginia regional coordinator and director of programs for Students for Life of America. In this role, she creates Pro-Life materials for the nation’s largest youth Pro-Life organization.
“Students for Life of America works with over 1,200 Pro-Life student groups across the country,” she said. Students who are looking to get more involved in the Pro-Life Movement are welcome to contact Lori by e-mail to Lcascio@ Lori and her husband Ryan and their daughter Alice are members of St. James.
Not far from Charles Town, another Eastern Panhandle parish community voiced its public support for the protection of life. On Respect Life Sunday, parishioners of Our Lady of Grace Church in Romney gathered in front of the Hampshire County Courthouse holding signs calling for an end to abortion and protection of the unborn. Teens for Life at Central Catholic High School in Wheeling joined with Father Martin Smay, associate pastor of St. Michael  Parish in Wheeling, in a Life Chain in Bridgeport, Ohio, just across the river from Wheeling.
As local residents travel busy National Road in Wheeling this month, they can see 30 small, white crosses that sit on the edge of the lawn in front of St. Michael’s Angelus Center. Each cross represents 100 aborted babies. “These 30 crosses represent 3,000 babies killed every day by abortion in our country,” the sign beside the crosses reads. Standing among the small crosses is a large cross that lists life issues: abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment. Another sign highlights the 40 Days for Life program, undertaken by parishes across the country this month.
The Catholic churches of the Mid–Ohio Valley along with the Knights of Columbus held a Walk for Life at the Parkersburg City Park Oct. 13. Also, that day, the Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston held a Rosary for Life and Healing. The 46th Annual West Virginians for Life Convention with the theme “LIFE is nourished at the roots,” was to be held Oct. 19 at Assembly of God fellowship hall in Fairmont Oct. 19 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The St. Agnes Conference (St. Agnes Parish in Shepherdstown) of the St. Vincent de Paul Society hosted its sixth annual “Walk for the Poor” on Respect Life Sunday. These are just of few of the many prayerful gatherings held across the state.
In Vienna, there is a permanent reminder of the sacredness of life, thanks to St. Michael Parish and the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus.
“The respect for life is a central principal for everyone to honor,” said Father John Gallagher, pastor of St. Michael’s. “At St. Michael, we have constructed a memorial in conjunction with the Parkersburg Knights of Columbus.  Located on the corner of Grand Central Avenue and 55th Street in Vienna, the memorial recognizes all unborn children. Depicting two children in a joyous dance, the monument represents the joy we should experience in the life of all children. At St. Michael we continue to pray for and support the efforts of the local Pro-Life Organization.”