Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, Catholic Exchange <i>, and <i>Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
“The room was very full. Mrs. Pence came in and introduced the Vice President,” University of Mary senior Katrina Gallic told the Register minutes after the March for Life in Washington, DC. “Top pro-life leaders were there; Lila Rose, Father (Frank) Pavone, Abby Johnson were in the room.” Gallic was invited by the White House to be in that room in the Eisenhower Building too, for a major pre-March for Life reception hosted by the White House.
“It was incredibly encouraging to hear his words affirming the attitude in the room. He was very positive,” she said of Vice President Pence.
Gallic got to meet Pence, shake his hand, and personally thank him and encourage him “to keep going and fighting for legislation for the sanctity of life.”
She got the invitation on Tuesday before the March for Life. It arrived during the middle of one of her University of Mary classes in Bismarck, North Dakota, when her phone alerted her to an important message from the office of the Vice President of the United States.
“March for Life Reception with Vice President Mike Pence,” it said. It wasn’t a joke. It was real.
It read: “Friends, Vice President Pence would like to invite you to a reception ahead of Friday’s March for Life.” Then after giving security requirements, it continued, “We look forward to seeing you! All the best.”
Ironically, this was the second call she got from Pence’s office. A similar invitation arrived for her last year, and naturally she accepted the invitation. She got that call while on the bus with other students heading to Washington for the 2017 March.
“I was absolutely very surprised when I received the invitation last year,” Gallic said. But the 30-hour bus trip with 600 classmates from Bismarck to Washington arrived too late. She missed the 2017 luncheon and reception. But providentially there was one other thing the bus was in time for and she didn’t miss.
Gallic was the only student representative picked to speak with the Vice President and other special guests at the pre-March Rally. If fact, she made national TV with her powerful presentation now on YouTube — not to be missed.
“I guess the opportunity passed,” she said about last year’s missed reception. “But on Tuesday afternoon I got the craziest email of my life — you are invited to the reception this year. I was very surprised and very honored they had remembered me from the previous year and very grateful to have other people from UMary join me.”
Because of the offer to invite someone along, she asked if that person could be University of Mary President Msgr. James Shea. The White House gave a big Okay for him too.
How is this special meeting now going to affect her pro-life work? Certainly it will encourage her, but she’s already an old hand at pro-life work.
“I was really raised in the pro-life movement,” Gallic explains in her voice full of conviction. “We would always pray the 40 Days for Life. When I grew up in New Jersey, we would pray in front of abortion clinics. My family has been involved in pro-life work for a long time. We are part of a large Catholic family.”
She has six brothers and sisters. Her grandmother on her father’s side has 10 children. There are 70 grandchildren in the family. Gallic said that, being raised in such a large family, it was natural to see this aunt or that aunt pregnant.
“I got to know the beauty and joy of life,” she said. While she didn’t realize it or appreciate it when she was a child herself as much she does now, she emphasized that she “realized later what a blessing it was to witness the beauty of life so firsthand. Many people don’t have the opportunity to see, hear, and to be in a family that so truly lives it (pro-life) out. It was a blessing.”
Turning back to the March for Life kickoff event, she again expressed her appreciation and thoughts about being a part of the reception and the March.
“To be welcomed by the White House for this movement and to hear the Vice President and then the President today affirm their support for this movement was really wonderful,” she said enthusiastically. It caused her to “think back how much prayer and dedication have put into this movement.”
“To see our leaders respond to the prayers and wishes of the people was very moving,” she affirmed.
She shared how she is eagerly “looking forward to what the future holds for the pro-life generation.”
If many are like Katrina Gallic, it holds much. Very much.