By Marnie McAllister, Record Editor
K.J. Turney, a junior at Assumption High School who advocates for people with disabilities, marched on the nation’s capitol last week for a very personal reason.
Sixteen or so years ago, the medical team monitoring her gestation thought she had Down Syndrome and offered to terminate her development.
K.J.’s mother, Latanya Turney, had a high risk pregnancy and battled depression, but she wouldn’t consider losing her child.
“She came out 9 pounds and healthy. I’m so glad I made the decision to keep her,” said Latanya Turney. “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her. I walk around with flip flops on, but there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her.”
Turney was indeed wearing flip flops on the cold night of Jan. 16 when she dropped her teenage daughter off at St. John Paul II Church. K.J. was heading to Washington, D.C., to attend the March for Life on buses sponsored by the Archdiocese of Louisville. The March for Life is held annually near the anniversary of the Jan. 22, 1973, Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
“I ended up turning out fine and I want to tell more people, a child is never going to be a bad thing,” said K.J. before saying goodbye to her mother last Wednesday.
She and several other Assumption students were among about 150 teenagers and chaperones who traveled as a group from the Archdiocese of Louisville.
Before boarding buses that night, they prepared for the march by taking part in a Holy Hour.
Ed Harpring, pro-life coordinator for the archdiocese, greeted the congregation and reminded the group, especially the young people, “This is a pilgrimage, not a field trip.”
“It’s exciting and it can be perceived as a field trip, but it’s not,” he said. “It’s a spiritual journey,” where the pilgrims can atone for sins and pray for miracles.
Deacon Stephen Bowling, who preached at the Holy Hour, told them, “You’re about to take part in one of the greatest statements that can be made.”
Human life is “unique, precious, unrepeatable. Many are helpless. It is up to us to care,” he said.
The archdiocese’s March for Life pilgrimage is a three-day journey that includes worship, prayer and formation.
Many in the Archdiocese of Louisville group visited the Holocaust Museum prior to the march. They also attended Mass with Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz and learned about issues related to the sanctity of life.
“We talked about how important it was for them to gather as much information on issues that they can,” said Assumption teacher Lisa Wieland, who moderates the school’s Respect Life group and led the young women on the pilgrimage. “We talked about forming our own consciences. They spent time looking at whole-life issues in a way that the mainstream culture doesn’t share.”
While tens of thousands marched in the nation’s capitol Jan. 18, about three dozen people took part in a local Walk for Life in downtown Louisville. The annual prayer walk begins at the Cathedral of the Assumption and travels to various sites around downtown.
Prayers at each site touch on a variety of life issues. New this year was a prayer for children in foster care. Prayers also address abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty, immigration, worker rights, care for creation and racism.
Whereas the national March for Life focuses its mission on ending abortion, the Archdiocese of Louisville takes a wider view of the pro-life movement, highlighting other issues related to human life and dignity, as well.
The local Walk for Life and the Memorial Mass for the Sanctity of Life celebrated on Jan. 20 at St. Martin of Tours Church are part of a series of events the ardiocese is promoting under the umbrella Days of Human Dignity.
Other events in the series included a Jan. 10 prayer service in observance of National Migration Week that highlighted the dignity of immigrants and refugees and a celebration of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. held Jan. 21 that underscored the sin of racism.
The next event in the series is Catholics @ the Capitol on Jan. 28, where Catholics can learn more about issues related to human dignity facing the Kentucky General Assembly. It will be held Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. in Holy Family Church’s Saffin Center, 3926 Poplar Level Road.
The final event is the Feb. 13 Catholic Relief Services’ Rice Bowl Luncheon. The event will be at Assumption High School, 2170 Tyler Lane, and doors open at 10:30 a.m. with international exhibits. Lunch is at 11:30 a.m. For more information on the Days of Human Dignity initiative, visit www.archlou.org/days-of-human-dignity.