University of Mary selected to lead 2017 March for Life Rally in DC

Students from the University of Mary will lead the 2017 March for Life in Washington D.C.
Students from the University of Mary will lead the 2017 March for Life in Washington D.C.

The University of Mary in Bismarck, ND, has accepted an invitation from Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund to lead the 2017 national March for Life Rally, Friday Jan. 27, 2017, in Washington D.C.

Msgr. James Shea, president of University of Mary, prepares to board a stranded bus following the 2016 March for Life in the nation's capitol. (photo courtesy of University of Mary)
Msgr. James Shea, president of University of Mary, prepares to board a stranded bus following the 2016 March for Life in the nation’s capitol. (photo courtesy of University of Mary)

“Our selection is due in no small part, I’m sure, to the resilience and witness of this year’s 2016 March for Life participants from Mary, under the leadership of Pastor Kerry Bender, Dr. Chris Collins, and Sisters Hannah Vanorny and Idelle Badt,” said University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea, who always takes part in the march with Mary students. “Their story is now almost legendary, and it drew more awareness to this year’s March than anyone could have anticipated.”

Shea is referencing the national media attention he and University of Mary students attracted when they and thousands of march-goers were snowbound 54 hours on Pennsylvania turnpike in buses lined up for miles returning home from the 2016 March for Life.

Anne Dziak (Di-ZHAHK) of Chicago, IL, helped lead the chants and cheers on the Mary buses in 2016 as a senior accounting major, and now as an alumna is organizing and in charge of the massive contingent headed to Washington D.C. in January. That’s no easy task for anyone, but Dziak is used to the leadership role. This will be Dziak’s 12th March for Life, after starting a pro-life group at her local parish back home when she was 16 years old. She and her sister helped grow its membership to its current 1,000 and named it The Crusaders for Life in Chicago. The University of Mary contingent she is leading in January expects to be in the hundreds.

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“We’re expecting close to 500 students with eight or nine busses — but that number could climb between now and January,” said Dziak. “You can feel the energy and excitement in the air because many who wanted to go last year elected not to because of the stormy weather and now they are all counting down the days. Along with leading the March for Life, it is inspiring to be a part of a university that embodies education ‘for life’ in everything it does and promotes as part of its slogan. As a recent grad I am able to embrace the idea that the education that I received here at the university will benefit me throughout all stages in life. My fellow colleagues and Mary students will be at the forefront of this massive pro-life rally, leading, chanting and marching — for life.”

The March for Life has been held annually in Washington for more than 40 years. It is a bipartisan, interdenominational gathering of hundreds of thousands of Americans who travel to the nation’s capital to testify to a message which is powerful and life-affirming.

The University of Mary, with just over 3,000 students, has been a part of this March for the last six years. In 2016 the University of Mary bused 100 students to Washington D.C.