Source: The Times-Tribune
An Orthodox priest from Jermyn will have a key role at Monday’s annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.
The Very Rev. Archpriest John Kowalczyk, pastor of St. Michael’s Orthodox Church in Jermyn and chancellor of the Diocese of Eastern Pennsylvania, will conduct the benediction preceding the anti-abortion march.
The Rev. Kowalczyk said Thursday he was humbled that organizer Nellie Gray asked him to participate and called it the “surprise of my life.”
He will give the benediction – the final message before the march starts – on stage at the Ellipse facing the Washington Monument.
“I pray that whatever message is sent out there, that it will resonate into the hearts of people,” he said.
The annual March for Life marks the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. About 300,000 to 400,000 people are expected this year because the political climate has shifted to the conservative side, the Rev. Kowalczyk said.
The Rev. Kowalczyk considers himself an anti-abortion activist and has been involved with and attended the march for more than 25 years. He was in the seminary when Roe v. Wade was decided and wrote his dissertation on the Orthodox view of abortion.
“I couldn’t understand how a nation that’s really based on life principles … cannot defend the most vulnerable,” he said.
The Rev. Kowalczyk also will introduce the Orthodox delegation at the march, of which there will be many members from Northeast Pennsylvania. He said all students and staff at St. Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan and other church members, including the Right Rev. Tikhon, bishop of the Diocese of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania of the Orthodox Church in America, will attend as well.
The Orthodox church has a history of opposing abortion, the Rev. Kowalczyk said, “so for me to give the benediction is sort of like echoing not what Father Kowalczyk says but what the Eastern Orthodox Church has said throughout the centuries.”
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