The 33rd annual Respect Life March held by the Knights of Columbus St. Gregory Council on Sunday welcomed a large crowd of supporters of life at all stages.

The march, held annually in honor of Baby Agnes Doe, an infant whose remains were found in 1986 in Bellwood and adopted by the Knights, started at noon at St. Matthew Catholic Church with prayer led by Father Jozef Kovacik and a few words from Pete Kreckel of the Knights and Congressman John Joyce.

“When I look at the crucifix — I think of Baby Agnes and how she laid out in the cold and was dragged into someone’s yard by a dog, and the St. Gregory Council lovingly adopted her and gave appropriate and dignified burial,” said Kreckel, who was one of the Knights that carried her remains up the same aisle at St. Matthew 33 years ago for a proper remembrance and ceremony.

Kreckel recalled that Father Joseph Stritmatter, the priest at that time, remarked that, “Maybe I’ll be able to accomplish in a lifetime what Baby Agnes did in three days she was on this earth.”

Congressman John Joyce recognized the Knights of Columbus for its years of committment of respecting life and protecting life. He shared his belief that 47 years of the destruction of human life through legalized abortion is 47 years too long.

“As a physician, as a Christian, as a Catholic, my pro-life conviction is rooted in my baptism in Christ, it is rooted in taking an oath, and taking a pledge to protect human life,” he said. “I will be a steadfast voice of the voiceless. I remain eternally hopefully our nation someday will value all human life.”

Also in attendance at the event were Senator Judy Ward, Representative Jim Gregory, Representative Lou Schmitt, Representative John McGinnis, former Senator John Eichelberger, Comissioner Bruce Erb, and former Commissioner Terry Tomassetti. Kreckel noted that taking part in this march is not political, and that these individuals have participated in the march here whether or not they have been in office. Many Knights of Columbus members from the local council and abroad also attended.

“A lot of people that are likeminded are here to march,” stated Kreckel. “There are so many people who come year after year after year.”

“We are here because we need to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,” said Father Kovacik.

A brief prayer service was held at Oak Grove Cemetery in Tyrone before participants departed, welcome to join in a hot luncheon and fellowship at the St. Matthew Parish hall. The goal of the annual event is to voice respect for life at all stages from the unborn to the terminally ill.

Adeena Harbst can be reached at


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