Notre Dame Returns to The March for Life


A large @NDRTL delegation joined a huge crowd for this year's @March_for_Life to celebrate the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade and promote a culture of life. #GoCatholicND Click To Tweet

In whatever way you are able to support our common purpose — by giving of your time (especially in prayer), talent, or treasure — we are all very truly grateful.

An Iniquitous Proclamation

On January 20, the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a large Notre Dame delegation joined a huge crowd of enthusiastic pro-life demonstrators gathered on the National Mall to celebrate the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe and rededicate themselves to a culture of life.

At the same time and just a few blocks away in the White House, abortion champion and Notre Dame honoree President Joe Biden denounced the Court for its decision and rededicated himself to a culture of death.

Declaring in his Proclamation that he would “continue to fight to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Biden called on Congress to restore Roe v. Wade through legislation and pledged to continue to use his authority as President to circumvent state restrictions that have been put in place following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Biden and Notre Dame

It wasn’t long ago that our nation’s “first anti-Catholic ‘Catholic’ President” was considering an invitation from Notre Dame’s President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., to be honored as Commencement speaker. He eventually declined the invitation pleading a conflict, which turned out to be a weekend with his wife at Camp David — a dodge widely attributed to apprehension s over an Obama-type protest, apprehension stoked by Sycamore Trust’s anticipatory protest petition with some 5,000 alumni and related signatures.

But there was hope from the Jenkins Administration until just weeks before Commencement that he would address the class of 2021 – even as his opposition to the Church on issues of sex, marriage, and gender was clear and even as it was becoming clear how far he might go in support of abortion.

How far he has gone! 

What was a near miss for Notre Dame’s Catholic identity was anything but for Father Jenkins, who has a history of seeking to honor Joe Biden. The commencement invitation followed upon Father Jenkins’s 2016 selection of then Vice President Biden as the recipient of the Laetare Medal as one whose life “illustrates the ideals of the Church,” notwithstanding his support for abortion and same-sex marriage and the objection of Notre Dame’s bishop, the Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades. 

Father Jenkins Stays Home.

While Biden’s January 20 pro-abortion screed was no surprise, Father Jenkins’s absence from the March was.

Until the last March, he had attended every year since Notre Dame’s campus erupted in protests when pro-abortion President Barack Obama was honored as the 2009 commencement speaker despite the injunction of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”

Led by Notre Dame’s then bishop the Most Rev. John M. D’Arcy, 83 cardinals, archbishops and bishops condemned Father Jenkins’s action.

Father Jenkins thereupon appointed a faculty “damage control” task force, and it was at their recommendation that he began attending the March for Life.

But now for the second year in a row he has stayed home.

Notre Dame’s True Champions for Life

450 Notre Dame Students with NDRTL attended the 2023 National March for Life | Source: Kolbe Media

But don’t let what Father Jenkins has done and what he has failed to do reflect on the Notre Dame student Right To Life organization or the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture — which played a central role in organizing the Notre Dame delegation and sponsored a post-March reception — or the McGrath Institute for Church Life or the Notre Dame Faculty for Life or the other pro-life forces at the university.

“We had about 450 students in attendance this year” reported NDRTL President Merlot Fogarty. “While this was the lowest number of attendees we’ve had in many, many years,” she said, “the turnout in comparison to other universities was still the highest!”

Explaining that COVID restrictions had forced NDRTL leaders to cancel their participation in the preceding three events, Fogarty pointed out, “Only seniors on this march had attended the march in the past.” And the fact that it was many students’ first time attending the March, she said “made for a really enthusiastic group of students, a lot of whom had never seen so much energy and passion for life before” and many who as a result “expressed the desire to go local, as well as to get more involved in the community around Notre Dame and their communities at home.” 

Mass for Notre Dame, Saint Mary’s, and Holy Cross students at St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church | Source: Kolbe Media

Fogarty expects this enthusiasm will lead to NDRTL’s participation in the Illinois March in the Spring and the Michigan March in the Fall, which will underscore the opportunity for students to carry the Notre Dame pro-life message to places where their peers currently have access to abortion.

“For this march in particular,” Fogarty said, “I think a sensation of gratitude and excitement could be felt amongst the marchers. We did it! We overturned Roe, we proved definitively that there is no right to abortion in our nation’s constitution.”

At the same time, Fogarty and other pro-life Notre Dame leaders recognize that much more work lies ahead. “It is going to take innovative and unique laws, policies, and organizations,” Fogarty says, “to work state-by-state to eradicate abortion.” And she and her associates are determined to pursue “other ways in which we will be able to effect change in our broken culture [and] have a huge impact on a mother’s decision for life for her child.”

The tens of thousands of students who spent hours on buses to stand for life in Washington this weekend are prepared to do their utmost to regenerate a culture of life in this country. It shows in their smiles, their chants, and their passion for protecting the lives of the most vulnerable. It was exhilarating to be a part of it!

Notre Dame Students lift their “Irish Fighting for Life” banner as they head toward the Capital and Supreme Court | Source: Kolbe Media

Sycamore Trust’s Part

As we have for many years, Sycamore Trust participated in the National March for Life by attending the student Mass held this year at St. James Catholic Church in Falls Church, the Rally on the National Mall, the March with hundreds of Notre Dame students and alumni, and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture reception — passing out our Gift of Life Prayer cards (below) and Sycamore Trust beanies along the way.

Additionally, we were one of the sponsors this year of the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life at Georgetown University where Sycamore President Steve O’Neil and Executive Director Tim Dempsey distributed materials and discussed our work with attendees at what has become the largest student-run pro-life Conference in the United States. In addition to spreading the word and making new friends, we were very pleased to share our sponsorship table with the organizers of St. Thomas University’s Roccasecca Project, who were inspired by Sycamore Trust several years ago to form a similar organization to protect the Catholic identity of their alma mater.

Steve O’Neil and Tim Dempsey explain Sycamore’s mission to O’Connor Conference attendees | Source: Kolbe Media

Two of the new friends that we made at the Conference were members of “The ND 88,” Joan McKee and Jack Ames (shown below). McKee and Ames joined former ambassador Alan Keyes, Norma McCorvey (the Roe in Roe v. Wade), Fr. Norman Weslin, and a large number of other pro-life activists to protest Notre Dame’s honoring President Barack Obama as its 2009 commencement speaker. Notre Dame instigated criminal prosecutions against 88 of them who had strayed onto the edge of campus property while demonstrating. They suffered through two years of litigation until Notre Dame finally had the prosecution dropped, thanks to the efforts of Notre Dame alumni attorneys Tom Dixon of South Bend and Tom Brejcha and Peter Breen of Chicago’s Thomas More Society.

Left to right, Steve O’Neil, Tim Dempsey, Joan McKee, and Jack Ames | Source Kolbe Media

Apart from our official participation in the O’Connor Conference, Elizabeth Kirk (shown below), longtime Sycamore Trustee and Officer of the Board, gave a presentation on “The role of adoption in post-Dobbs America.” She is the Director of the Center for Law & the Human Person at the Columbus School of Law at the Catholic University of America, associate scholar for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List, and one of the architects of Notre Dame’s Vita Institute, which provides intensive interdisciplinary training for leaders in the national and international pro-life movement.

Elizabeth Kirk speaking at Georgetown University’s student-run O’Connor Conference for Life | Source: Kolbe Media

Finally, we were host to eight young alumni (shown in part below) for a lunch meeting to discuss their ideas about extending our new young alumni group to include in-person activities to help cultivate friendships and to build community among people with common values who are in similar stages of life and living in the same vicinity. You will hear a great deal more about this and related activities of our young alumni group as we continue to organize and expand membership.

Bob Burkett, ’13, Sam Lucas, ’17, Tim Dempsey, ’89, Zef Crnkovich, ’22, Austin Rose, ’22, Will Gentry, ’22, Mary Frances Myler, ’22 | Source: Kolbe Media

Let Us Pray

Click to download a pdf

O God, giver of every good gift, You created us in Your image and likeness, and called us to share in Your life and love.

You willed that Your Son, conceived of the Holy Spirit,
begin His human existence in the immaculate womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

By our prayers and through our works, may we always honor and defend the sanctity of life, especially the lives of those who yet dwell in their own mothers’ wombs.

May they be protected in the womb and loved in life.

Please grant the charity and courage of Saint Joseph to guide all fathers, and the humility and fiat of Notre Dame, Our Mother, to inspire and sustain all mothers as they welcome, nurture, and cherish their children.

We ask this through Jesus Christ, the Lord of Life, Who lives and reigns with You for ever and ever. Amen.

 The above prayer is by Sycamore Trustee Father John Raphael (’89). To join us in regular prayer projects such as our Novena for Catholic Education and our Meditation on the 12-Days of Christmas, please join our Apostolate.  

Annual Campaign

In whatever way you are able to support our common purpose — by giving of your time (especially in prayer), talent, or treasure — we are all very truly grateful.

Leave a Reply

 Let us know what you think about the issues we’ve raised in this bulletin in the comments below. And help to spread the word by sharing this bulletin with others who care about Notre Dame’s Catholic identity. 

11 Responses to “Notre Dame Returns to The March for Life”

  1. John A McNamara January 31, 2023 at 6:03 pm

    Wouldn’t it be a great example if 2 Notre Dame deans attended the March for Life next year in 2024 and each invited two other deans from Catholic universities or colleges to attend with them? Imagine 5 Holy Cross priests, not just one, from Notre Dame attending and each inviting two other priests , perhaps from other Holy Cross schools like St. Edward’s University in Austin, or the University of Portland (OR). Imagine the learning and sharing of the faith and setting of a good Catholic example for students that could take place. In the current ND environment though, it would probably be too offensive, too harassing and too hard to do, particularly without Dolly Duffy setting up a fundraiser to cover the costs of these employees (Not Catholic evangelizers) to travel to Washington on behalf of the university with the $10-$20 billion dollar endowment.

    • Why is it, during this period of time in Salvation History, that it takes Courage to be, in essence, Catholic and thus Pro Life?
      Perhaps it is because in order to be Pro-Life, one must respect The Sanctity of the marital act within The Sacrament Of Holy Matrimony and The Sanctity of the life of every beloved son and daughter from the moment of conception to natural death.

      Imagine if every Baptized Catholic, who desires to remain in communion with Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost(Filioque) recognized it does not take courage to remain Catholic, it simply takes belief in The Power And Glory Of Life-affirming and Life-sustaining Salvational Love, God’s Gift Of Grace And Mercy, available to all who desire to repent and believe The Good News.

      Christ’s Sacrifice On The Cross will lead us to Salvation, but we must desire forgiveness for our sins, and accept Salvational Love, God’s Gift Of Grace And Mercy; believe in The Power And The Glory Of Salvation Love, and rejoice in the fact that No Greater Love Is There Than This, To Desire Salvation For One’s Beloved.
      “Hail The Cross, Our Only Hope.”

      “Caritas In Veritate”; “Veritas In Caritate”, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost (Filioque). Amen.

  2. I apologize for that should read:
    “Because it is True”
    Why does The Body Of Christ, those who remain in communion with Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost (Filioque), continue to affirm Christ’s teaching in regards to The Sanctity of the marital act within The Sacrament Of Holy Matrimony, and The Sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death?
    Because it is true that every human person has been created in The Image and Likeness Of God, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as a beloved son or daughter, Willed By God, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity, worthy of Redemption, to exist in Loving relationship with one another in communion with The Ordered Communion Of Perfect Complementary Love, The Most Holy And Undivided Blessed Trinity. We can know through both Faith and Reason, grounded in Perfect Love, that any act that denies the Sanctity of the marital act within The Sacrament Of Holy Matrimony, or denies the Sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death, is not, and can never be an act of Life-affirming and Life-sustaining Love.

  3. “Because it is True”
    Why does The Body Of Christ, those who remain in communion with Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church, Through The Unity Of The Holy Ghost (Filioque), and continue to affirm Christ’s teaching in regards to The Sanctity of the marital act within The Sacrament Of Holy Matrimony, and The Sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death?
    Because it is true that every human person has been created in The Image Of God, equal in Dignity, while being complementary as a beloved son or daughter, and any act that denies the Sanctity of the marital act within The Sacrament Of Holy Matrimony, or denies the Sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death, is not, and can never be an act of Life-affirming and Life-sustaining Love.

  4. STEVE '71 '74 "We were ND." January 27, 2023 at 10:59 am

    Typically, John McNamara’s comments are cogent, concise, comprehensive and compelling. Unsurprisingly the comments of others, especially regarding Jenkins, are spot-on. In my seldom-humble view, we are now actively engaged in the Final War of Good versus Evil. We of Faith know how it will end and we are confident of eventual and ultimate victory. In my heart and soul, I am certain the pivotal, decisive battle will be on the topic of “right to life” and respect for life. Margaret Sanger was purely evil. The same must be said for the Democrat Party and its anti-life platform and policies and pols. Hard truths, bluntly spoken, may seem harsh. Steve

  5. One must express prayerful appreciation for the extensive Good Works and for the excellent moral example which the Sycamore Trust (led by Bill and Tim Dempsey) contributes.

    One is deeply perplexed by the specious idea that killing babies is a “right” given to any human being. One is deeply perplexed by the absence of personal witness-to-life of so many Holy Cross Fathers. And (even after fifteen years of the present Administration’s waning Catholic sensibilities) one is utterly astonished by the apparent indifference of the Notre Dame Administration to 1) the solid traditions of Catholic morality, and 2) the Administration’s stifling of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

    Finally – one is profoundly heartened by the work and tenacity of the University’s pro-life student and faculty leaders, i.e., the persons and organizations mentioned in this newsletter.

  6. The Right to Life is the great moral issue of our day and reflects so much on the daily never-ending battle between good and evil; openess and secrecy; dishonesty and truth, in not only American society but Western civilization. The reason that there is even a debate over our God-given right to life is a hidden fear among political leaders, academics and religious leaders about Thomas Malthus’ 1798 “population explosion” theory that despite wars, famines and disease, human population with continue to grow exponentially, resulting in eventual food shortages and a destruction of civilization in the resulting competition for scarce food resources and mass poverty. These academics and “leaders” live in a fear that the world will become a place not unlike the world portrayed in the 1973 Charlton Heston movie,”Soylent Green”. A century ago, these concerns resulted in people like Margaret Sanger, alarmed by large slums in New York City, pushing the ideas of abortion and eugenics to control certain populations, not her own, like the African-American population and starting Planned Parenthood facilities in African American neighborhoods. Malthus’ concerns about humanity’s strong desire to have children has led in more recent times to the moral issues of abortion, promotion of the homosexual lifestyle, and promotion of transgender surgeries that leave the patient/victim unable to have children ever, not unlike a neutered pet. In an effort to promote these terrible practices, the Left, particularly in America, has been trying to fool and trick the uneducated, by rebranding killing your own innocent baby as a constitutional right, that women have had taken away from them; that people suffering from gender dysphoria, an uncertainty about their gender, should be neutered and celebrated and treated as the victims of a large wave of hatred; that police should be defunded, so that the poor will kill each other in crimes and retaliations; and that addictive drugs that take away a person’s drive to succeed and are a slow motion form of suicide, should be legalized. Neither the Left, nor the Right discuss the underlying issue, but the Left and the very wealthy, such as the World Economic Forum, with its “Great Reset”, or the Communist Chinese with their forced abortion laws, are pushing these terrible measures, and buying lots of farmland in the United States and Europe, rather than openly discussing ways the world’s wealth could be spent on space exploration or desalinization of sea water and irrigating large empty tracts of the world for food production, such as the Australian Outback or Nevada, rather than on corporate profit margins; contrived political emergencies over gas stoves or disclosure of government records; private jets; university endowments; large parties; and the trappings of glamourous lifestyles. Mathus, the American Left and the University of Notre Dame have all forgotten humanity’s ability to adapt and Faith- the idea that God wants us to be good and He wants us to succeed in overcoming trials involving greed and conflict with others, by treating others as we would want to be treated. America was founded by people of faith who adapted by moving to North America.

    What does it say when the leaders of the University of Notre Dame avoid and hide from the great moral debate of our times? (I am not talking about just Fr. Jenkins, there are other priests, provosts and deans at Notre Dame). It is sad and damning that a place like the University of Notre Dame would have leaders who would not speak out openly and frequently in the defense of human life and participate in the March for Life. It is sad and damning that the University of Notre Dame would sit for years on an endowment of $10-$20 billion dollars without investing in helping unwed mothers and STUDENTS safely deliver healthy babies and support young families in need, not just through money, but through educating young people how to climb out of their financial hole. It is sad and damning that a Notre Dame education would put many of its students in a large hole of debt, when the endowment could be used to help less affluent students cover the cost of their education as Rice, Cornell, Columbia, Chicago and Miami do. It is sad and damning that Notre Dame would put out a video on “acceptance” of homosexuality and transgender behavior, rather than teach the Catholic Cathechism and its teachings on sexuality and abstinence, avoiding intercourse outside of marriage, and the central place of a family, where children see men and women with their desgned differences working together for the common good and treating ALL people with kindness, even the ones who say things you don’t like, rather than cancelling those who speak unpleasant truths. It is sad that Notre Dame, while doing many good things academically, may not be working towards solving the issues of overcoming potential world food shortages, developing desalinization and irrigation methods, overcoming dysphoria, teaching Catholicism and is not promoting profits and wealth to be spent on raising all of humanity, similar to Andrew Carnegie, not just on a greedy competition for who has the most millions or billions.

    I am impressed with Sycamore’s efforts to get students and young alumni involved in the Rigt to Life and the Catholic Faith, as that will be where future battles for Life and Catholicism will be debated and successes achieved.

  7. Paul J. Devitt '80 January 26, 2023 at 12:09 pm

    God was honored by this March for Life event and may he bless in a special way each one of those who attended and supported this visible sign of the authentic Church. Gratified to see Sycamore Trust’s engagement in this fight. God bless what you are doing to support truth and faith for those that battle for Our Lady against evil that never rests. If you haven’t watched the Jonathon Roumie speech (plays Jesus on “The Chosen”, you should.

  8. Katie Duffy '95 January 26, 2023 at 9:54 am

    Fr. Jenkins’ absence is both disgraceful and not surprising. Fr. Pete McCormick was there, and the students like him much better anyway. He said the mass, walked with the kids, and rode the bus with them. The students would much rather have a priest who lives his faith and connects with them with meaningful homilies, conversations, fun videos, etc. than a pompous figurehead. Should Jenkins have been there? Yes. Was he missed? No.

  9. Eugene Dixon '69 MBA January 26, 2023 at 9:00 am

    Actions say everything: Jenkins is a Democrat Marxist first and Catholic only by association. Gratifying that students are not deterred by a wolf in sheep clothing.

  10. Bill Dotterweich January 26, 2023 at 8:10 am

    Hearty congratulations to Sycamore and all the student participants in the March for Life. Father Jenkin’s absence was telling but hardly a surprise. I always felt his presence at previous Marches (but only after the Obama fiasco) was phony. Good riddance.

Comments & Questions