'We can whine, or we can fight back'
Boston — Like many of the Women's Marches held Saturday, Boston's was all about numbers as tens of thousands of women, men and children thronged the city's Common, overwhelming organizers.
"We were expecting 20,000 mid-week. That number jumped to 90,000 by Friday. I guess more of you showed up," said Master of Ceremonies Mariama White-Hammond, a minister of Bethel AME Church in Boston. Crowd estimates later ranged from 125,000 to 175,000.
The Boston Children's Choir opened the rally with a solemn rendition of "America the Beautiful," the audience singing along. Savannah Fox Tree, a Native American teenager, sang "Amazing Grace" in Cherokee and English. The Pledge of Allegiance and a slew of speakers followed.
Massachusetts politicos delivered some of the morning's most fiery speeches. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh assured everyone that his city would continue to welcome refugees and immigrants and provide health care coverage.
"We can whimper, we can whine, or we can fight back," said Sen. Elizabeth Warren. "We are here because we are ready to fight for a country that works for all."
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, popularly known as "the people's lawyer," urged everyone to not let the march be the extent of their activism. Go run for office, she said.
But it was Sen. Edward Markey who brought a Massachusetts moment to the morning recalling the state's precedent-setting history.
Remember, here is where the American Revolution, abolition, marriage equality, and health care for all got started, he said.
The political protest was a first for several people traveling to the Boston march on a bus provided by the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.
"I came because in the recent election, it felt like women were being put down, and we should speak out about it," said Molly Fahy, a 15-year-old student at Marianapolis Preparatory School in Thompson, Connecticut. Fahy brought her mother, Colleen Fahy, an economics professor at Worcester's Assumption College.
"It's a painful time, and this is a way to show a little bit of solidarity," Colleen Fahy said. Asked about Planned Parenthood's sponsorship of the Women's March, Fahy, who is Catholic, said, "It was one of a multitude of issues for the march, not the reason." It was not the reason she came, she added.
Ann Lang, a Worcester Public School teacher and mother of four girls and one boy, said she came because of her daughters.
"It's important to show them you can stand up for what you believe in," she said.
"I am going to be in solidarity with other people who felt marginalized during the campaign, to refresh a sense that we are in this together," said Stephanie Yuhl, a history professor at Holy Cross. "It's to reinvigorate our sense of engaged citizenship, which is something our country desperately needs and has needed for decades.
"We will not be silent. We will not play dead. ... We are here because we are ready to fight for a country that works for all," she said.
— Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, 10:10 a.m. Eastern Monday, Jan. 23
Sisters fight for the vulnerable in Kansas City
Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas, and associates show their support. (GSR photo / Kristen Daniels)
Kansas City, Missouri — Officials are estimating between 6,000 and 10,000 women, men and children gathered at Washington Square Park in Kansas City for their Women's March rally. The entire park, which is about 10 blocks from downtown, was filled to the brim and required the overflow of participants to stand in one of the adjacent streets, which police closed to traffic near the start of the event. The rally featured a long list of local speakers and activists, including an unannounced visit from the mayor of Kansas City, Sly James. He spoke near the opening of the official run of the event, which was from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., after the national anthem was sung by Bukeka Bosede Blakemore.
Partaking in the rally were a contingent of people who identify as Catholic. Connie Anderson, who lives in Prairie Village, Kansas, but attends St. James Catholic Church in Kansas City came to the rally as a sign of solidarity for all people.
"We are in need of strong support for the courage and the strength and the justice of all women. That can only happen through cooperation and love and group togetherness to destroy the oppressiveness that is hate," Anderson said.
A group of about a dozen Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas, could also be seen in the crowd, listening to the many speakers who talked about equal rights for refugees, Muslims and for the LGBT community, among many others.
Sister of Mercy of the Americas Jeanne Christensen said her community’s values are what spurred her to be a part of such an event.
"I’m a Sister of Mercy, and as such, we have values how we extend ministry with people. And my sense of what’s going to happen in the next four years, the very people we minister with and minister to, those people are going to be more vulnerable than they are now," she said.
"The sisters have five critical concerns that we’re focused on: women and children, nonviolence, racism, environment, and immigration. Every single one of those are severely endangered by what's going to be happening. So for me it’s just the women being together . . . And we can’t do it alone. It’s going to take all of us, and we’re going to have to keep fighting for what’s needed for the most vulnerable among us."
— Kristen Daniels, 7:14 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
Religious values marched in Chicago
Taylor Lach and other Loyola University students at the Women's March in Chicago. (Nicole Sotelo)
Chicago — "Love is the most important thing in the whole world," said Taylor Lach, a 21-year-old Loyola University student who attended the Women's March in Chicago. "I feel like this is 100 percent of what the Catholic church teaches."
Lach joined the approximately 250,000 other Chicago-area marchers for today's Women's March. As of yesterday, the Chicago Tribune estimated that there would be 50,000 participants. This morning, the crowd spilled out of the park and into downtown streets.
Marchers chanted slogans such as "Black lives matter" and "Si se puede. Yes we can." A crowd favorite was the call and response: "Tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like."
After President Donald Trump's demeaning remarks toward Muslims during the election season, marchers made sure to speak up for them. Chicago participants chanted: "No hate, no fear. Muslims are welcome here."
Other marchers made sure the inclusive values of their religion made it on their protest signs.
"Christians for love, not hate" was on Kyri Sierra's sign. Sierra, 36, is a member of Chicago Tabernacle, a local Christian church.
"My husband and I are really disappointed in the voice Christians have had in this election," she said. "We don't feel it reflects the Christian point of view."
Ryan Hoffmann, a 36-year-old Catholic living in Chicago, created a sign that read, "What would Jesus Tweet?"
Kathleen Weiss Boyle, a 53-year-old parishioner at Queen of All Saints, a local Catholic church, talked about her hope for the next four years.
"I'm looking for values that reflect Jesus ... I think the people that Donald Trump seeks to alienate are the people that Jesus would have drawn close to him," she said.
— Nicole Sotelo, 6:01 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
Pro-life and pro-choice advocates side by side
El Paso, Texas — The Women's March at the U.S.-Mexico border wove through the historic Segundo Barrio to the San Jacinto Plaza just a mile from the ports of entry.
Blustery weather did not keep people home. Marchers came from Mexico and New Mexico to express concern about policy changes in immigration, health care and education. Pro-life and pro-choice advocates were side by side.
Somewhat surprising in a culture that is characterized by machismo was the large number of men in this "Women's March." This signifies the realization that women's rights and concerns are human rights and concerns.
Marching past Sacred Heart Jesuit parish with its prominent shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe, there was a strong sense of the solidarity of spirit in this border community and its history of resistance to injustice.
— Sr. Janet Gildea, 5:48 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
'The norms of our democracy are crumbling'
New York City — "The norms of our democracy are crumbling before our very eyes," said Kathryn Reklis, a theologian and professor at Fordham University. "As a historical and feminist theologian, I believe we have a moral obligation to stand against injustice. I live in a community [Queens] where many of my neighbors stand to become disenfranchised by Trump. I brought my 7-year-old son to teach him that protest and dissent are family values."
— Jamie Manson, 5:08 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
'There's a massive number of people dissatisfied right now'
Philadelphia — While the skies were a slate gray and the signs lofted in the air were often defiant, the mood of the Philadelphia Women's March was, by and large, cheerful, with the atmosphere of a well-attended block party punctuated by chants and song.
Marchers in unicorn costumes and Lady Liberty garb mingled with families pushing strollers, college students, and older, seasoned protesters on the stately Benjamin Franklin Parkway from Logan Square to the Eakins Oval in front of the Art Museum. Though number estimates are unreliable, one law enforcement officer estimated that the crowd totaled at least 40,000 (an organizer on the dais put it in the realm of 50,000).
Judging by the signs, marchers had come out for an array of causes, including women's health, the Affordable Care Act, Black Lives Matter, and ongoing resistance to the presidency of Donald Trump.
Sarah Weisiger, pastor of the Ivyland Presbyterian Church in Warminster, Pennsylvania, was accompanied by her husband, Alex, and their three children, who range in age from 6 months to 5 years old.
"This is consistent with my Christian values, and I wanted to do something positive," she said, adding that she also wanted to expose her children to positive action. Alex said he shared many of the same values and was inspired to come along because she had made plans.
Kristy Modarelli is 34-year-old Catholic from Ohio still searching for a church home in the Philadelphia archdiocese. She attended the march, she said, to express support for the causes she values, which include equality for women, equality for all marginalized people and action to remediate the effects of climate change.
"I'm really just showing up to be counted, to show how there's a massive number of people dissatisfied right now," she said.
Then she paused for a moment to compose herself, tears in her eyes. As an administrator in an independent school for children in junior and senior high school, she had, she said, a "very visceral reaction to Trump's election. I felt bad because I really struggled with being there for the students after the election. It felt like I couldn't hold it together."
Marcy Boroff, a member of Congregation Mishkan Shalom, spent part of Friday participating in an alternative Inauguration Day event featuring meditation, prayer and yoga at her Philadelphia Reconstructionist synagogue. She attended the march, she said, because "we need to be with community and to be with people and to let our voices be heard."
Her faith community, with its ongoing commitment to activism and social justice, has been a big help in addressing the aftermath of the election, she said.
"I don't need to go looking for action, I'm already engaged with people who believe that, with this president, we're going in the wrong direction. My faith community is important because I think the work we do is value-driven."
By 2 p.m., the crowds that had made the Parkway almost impassible were beginning to diminish, though not disappear. Protesters stood chatting on the boulevard, tuning in to the speakers now and then, many wending their way back toward Center City, and presumably home.
Sarah Weisiger, pastor of the Ivyland Presbyterian Church in Warminster, Pennsylvania
— Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans, 4:56 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21
'The diversity of voices is a strength'
New York City — For Catholic sisters who represent their congregations at the United Nations, the Women's March on New York City was an extension of their day-to-day work.
Sr. Winifred Doherty, the United Nations representative of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, and Sr. Celine Paramunda, the U.N. representative of the Medical Mission Sisters, wore placards proclaiming their commitments to gender, economic and climate justice and to girls' rights.
"These are all interrelated," Doherty said, and achieving them requires a change of consciousness that women can help bring about.
Sr. Winifred Doherty, right, the United Nations representative of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, and Sr. Celine Paramunda, the U.N. representative of the Medical Mission Sisters, wore placards proclaiming their commitments to gender, economic and climate justice and to girls' rights. (GSR photo / Chris Herlinger)
Doherty said today's events are necessary to challenge a male-dominated mindset that makes gender equality elusive and that continues to impoverish many women.
"Women in so many parts of the world don't have land rights, they don't have access to credit," she said. "We have to challenge that, challenge the power that is exercised over women."
Interviewed just before the march, the sisters said they would be unfazed by the many signs proclaiming opposition to President Donald Trump, saying they were marching out of solidarity with fellow women. Doherty, who is Irish, and Paramunda, who is Indian, emphasized the international character of today's events, noting that marches were taking place in 33 countries. The march in New York City began at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza near the United Nations and ended not far from Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said the rally and march attracted 200,000 people.
"My work is in solidarity with women all over the world," Paramunda said, noting the particular concern she and others have about violence against women everywhere.
The issue of abortion rights was prominent among many marchers, as many placards and signs demonstrated. That was to be expected, the sisters said.
"From womb to tomb, I'm pro-life," Paramunda said. "We're all pro-life," she said of Catholic sisters. But she said a wider vision is needed to assure affordable health care and life-affirming practices for all.
Doherty, meanwhile, said there was no uniformity of belief among those marching, and that was for the good.
"The diversity of voices is a strength," she said. "We have to work together in coalitions."
Sr. Justine Gitanjali Senapati, the Congregations of St. Joseph's U.N. representative, said she was participating to affirm "the wisdom of women" and to counter what she said was "the hate in the world today."
"This is a march about who women are," she said, "and gives the world a message that all women have dignity and value."
Saying she was speaking for herself and not for her congregation on the subject of Trump, Senapati said she does have concerns about the new president, particularly his attitude toward women.
"He is now the face of America, and America, for me, is a country that has emphasized freedom, respect for human rights, equality and justice. These are its core values. But as I see him, he has belittled women," she said.
"You can't 'make America great again' by belittling women, by building walls and by not caring for the poor and the disabled," Senapati said. "America has always been great, but it is an inclusive country that has respected freedom of speech and freedom of expression."
Marchers in New York affirm their commitment to women's rights. (GSR photo / Chris Herlinger)
— Chris Herlinger, 4:13 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
Five times the expected turnout
Boston — Earlier in the week, organizers of the Women's March in Boston were expecting about 20,000 people at their march. Instead, more than 100,000 people showed up, organizers said Saturday afternoon.
The politicians who spoke mentioned that "this is the state where the Revolution began, where abolition began ... where health care began, and we are going to fight," said Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, an NCR and GSR reporter who covered the march.
Both of Massachusetts' senators, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Ed Markey, spoke at the rally.
"We believe sexism, racism and homophobia have no place in this country. ... We believe equal means equal," Warren said.
The Boston crowd cheered the loudest when speakers brought up preserving education and protecting immigrants.
Attendees came "for their daughters. The daughters brought their mothers," Schaeffer-Duffy said. "They came for the rights of all."
Once the rally concluded, the march continued down one street for several hours, police said.
— GSR staff, 4:02 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
'I came here for therapy'
Tel Aviv, Israel — About 500 people gathered in Tel Aviv outside the U.S. embassy as part of the worldwide series of marches against President Donald Trump.
Many demonstrators expressed concern over Trump's announcement that he plans to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a controversial plan that many fear could lead to violence in the region. Most countries have their embassy in Tel Aviv to avoid recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, since Palestinians also claim the city as the capital of their future state.
Many people in the largely Israeli-American crowd said they had family members marching in the United States.
"It's an opportunity to really express a position to the Trump administration, that love trumps hate. Also, many Israeli-Americans don't support Trump, and certainly not most Jews," said Ayelet Shuber, one of the organizers of the event.
According to exit polls, 49 percent of Americans who voted by absentee ballot voted for Trump and 44 percent voted for Hillary Clinton. Protesters said they felt revulsion, frustration, and anger watching the inauguration on Friday.
"I came here for therapy, to be with other people who feel the way that I do," said Pamela Azaria, who lives in a suburb of Tel Aviv.
— Melanie Lidman, 3:40 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
'Jesus was resistant to unjust power structures'
Chicago — "As an African-American, I wanted to stand up with everyone who feels threatened by a Trump presidency. As a Catholic, I think it is important to march. I think Jesus was resistant to unjust power structures of his time, and I see marching as consistent with that movement." — Samuel, 25
— Nicole Sotelo, 3:14 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
Sr. Simone Campbell's speech
Washington, D.C. — Social Service Sr. Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby, was one of the speakers at the Women's March on Washington. Here are her full remarks.
Hello. I am Sr. Simone Campbell, I am one of the Nuns on the Bus and honored to be here today.
We have traveled this nation, met many of you, but I must say I have never seen a sight like this.
All of us together in one place.
That is very scriptural, if you will remember — those who know the Christian Scriptures. They say that we were gathered in one place: frightened, afraid, afraid to go out, and then a mighty wind came, a mighty wind that stirred the hearts and lifted the courage and let people know we are not alone, we are together.
We are together regardless of our faiths, regardless of the color of our skin, regardless of who we define as neighbor.
We are all neighbors to each other, and that is the deep truth that our nation was founded upon: We are our sisters' keepers; we are our brothers' keepers. It is that truth that will help us to mend the gaps in our society. It is that truth that will get us to heal the economic divide where those at the top keep taking more than those who are working hard to generate their wealth.
We the people can bridge this gap. We can bridge the gap of race and division. Where African-Americans and whites and Hispanics and Sikhs and Muslims and Arabs and all of us share the one story that underneath whatever skin we have, it's all red sinew and blood and passion and engagement and bridging the divide that is sucking the life out of us.
So my friends, can we commit in this moment to exercise joy, to claim our passion, to have curiosity about our neighbors, and then share it around. Because if we each do our part, we the people — we the people — will triumph. We the people are what our nation needs. And we the people will make the difference. Let's do it together. We the people!
— GSR staff, 2:53 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
At a standstill
Washington, D.C. — With an estimated half a million people attending the Women's March on Washington, the march has become mostly a rally.
"There are so many people coming from so many directions that no one is moving — just standing on the march route and chanting," said Jennifer Mertens, a columnist for NCR who traveled to the march from Cincinnati.
The most common chants:
"This is what democracy looks like."
"Black lives matter."
"Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go."
Reports are saying the march portion of the day has been canceled:
— GSR staff, 2:45 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
Deep in the heart of Texas
El Paso, Texas — "Immigrant rights were among the most frequent issues mentioned at the Boundless Across Borders Women's March in El Paso. Yesterday, event organizers held a 'braiding' of hair, intertwining the long locks of women across the U.S.-Mexico border. The international concern over the new administration is felt very strongly here in our border community. This is why we gather today: to express our solidarity with all who feel marginalized."
— Sr. Janet Gildea, 2:14 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
Meanwhile, in St. Louis
St. Louis — Reports say there were about 50,000 at the march. Among them were the St. Joseph sisters of St. Louis and their banner.
— Sr. Mary Ann McGivern, 2:12 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
From Tel Aviv, Israel
— Melanie Lidman, 1:29 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
'Here's to strong women'
San Francisco — Kathy Tobin, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Pinole, will cross the San Francisco Bay to attend the San Francisco Women's March because "it represents some way to join with others who oppose everything that Trump stands for. It's hard to think the marches will accomplish much directly, but I hope the sheer numbers of marchers will draw attention to the fact that there is a big force out there against the Trump agenda.
"Catholic teaching values the life of each person, and the new president's behavior in the past has shown him to be predominantly a bully with little regard for others, let alone those less fortunate," Tobin said.
Eighty-year-old Sr. Cathy Cahur, a Sister of Charity of Cincinnati, will be among those marching in San Francisco, where she has ministered as a substance abuse counselor for many years.
She said the Women's March is aligned to her community's values of "working to witness to God's active, loving presence by choosing to act justly, build relationships, share our resources with those in need, and care for all creation. So I will march to offer my part to support God's vibrant, hopeful message."
Nicole Bianchi is a member of St. Stephen Parish in San Francisco where her two daughters are enrolled in the parish school. Work responsibilities will keep her from attending the San Francisco Women's March, but she posted the following on Facebook immediately after Donald Trump took the oath of office on Friday:
"Inauguration Day. This is not the new beginning I, nor so many, wanted. These are not my personal politics. It's easy to be disenchanted. But I can't help but also feel hopeful. ...
"Millions will march tomorrow to signify this cultural shift. I hope the time has come where another new beginning is taking place, one which will help us all to raise strong, empathetic girls, not necessarily simply nice girls. The definition of nice is 'pleasant and satisfactory', and nice is fine. But now might not be the time for nice. Now is the time for conviction, benevolence and honesty. Now is the time for intellect and respect. Now is the time for badassery and a little bit of nasty.
"Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them."
— Monica Clark, 1:35 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
A scene from Chicago
Chicago — Rose Fanta, 54, a mother from St. Cletus Parish based in LaGrange, Illinois, poses with her friend's daughter, Karleigh McLynn, at the Women's March in Chicago.
"I'm Catholic and I also believe in women's rights," Fanta said. "You can't be pro-life and not be pro-feeding the child [or] clothing the child."
— Nicole Sotelo, 1:27 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
'We will not be silent'
St. Louis — "It is a great opportunity Saturday to walk with other women across the country to demonstrate our frustrations with the presidential voice we are hearing now and possibly for the next four years," said Ann Compton Kammien, a co-member with the Loretto Community. "We will not be silent. We will be strong in our work toward fair and generous treatment of all mankind and the earth we share. There will be a second strong and ongoing voice to balance and overcome what we are hearing from Donald Trump and his Cabinet."
— Sr. Mary Ann McGivern, 12:52 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
Sisters march in New York City
— Jamie Manson, 12:05 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
Same route, different causes
San Francisco — Two major marches focused on the concerns of American women will follow the same route on Market Street in San Francisco today. The 13th annual Walk for Life West Coast will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. An estimated 50,000 from throughout Northern California are expected to participate.
In the afternoon, an equal number of participants are expected for the Women's March along the same 1.8-mile stretch between the Civic Center and Justin Herman Plaza on the city's waterfront, beginning at 5 p.m.
A news story in the San Francisco Chronicle said organizers of both events have been talking to one another to avoid open conflicts.
"We've been doing our march every year around now for 13 years, and this year was an odd coincidence," Eva Muntean of San Francisco, a Walk for Life organizer, told the Chronicle.
"They put themselves on top of us, and we're not happy about it, but what can we do? We're in touch with them and trying to coordinate, even though we don't agree on views," Muntean said. "We're certainly not planning any trouble."
Martha Shaughnessy, an organizer for the city's Women's March, said there have been a series of peaceful protest trainings for weeks for the Women's Marches planned all over the Bay Area.
"We've been at capacity each time, which is a very good sign," Shaughnessy said. "What we really want recognized here is that we're all facing the same sort of pressure and pain now. Creating pure empathy across all the issues is important."
Rosa King, a graduate of Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory in San Francisco and Santa Clara University, told NCR the Women's March is "a perfect example of Catholic teachings about social justice coming into action. We, as Americans, need to stand in solidarity with one another in order to make all of the needed positive changes that each one of us wants to see. The Women's March shows the world that we will not be divided and that every human life is sacred and should be treated with dignity and respect."
"I want my voice to be heard loud and clear that my life matters, as an Afro-Latina woman, an immigrant and a proud feminist."
Her fiancé, Teddy Mekuria, whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from Ethiopia, will walk alongside her. They plan to "show the Trump administration that we will not be bullied into silence."
— Monica Clark, 12:22 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
'We're all here together'
Washington, D.C. — Jennifer Mertens, a columnist for NCR who traveled to the march from Cincinnati, said the crowd at the Women's March on Washington feels bigger than the crowd she was in when she saw the pope.
"There are just so many people here," she said. "The energy is really electric. People are excited and energized."
She said there are signs for all sorts of causes, including immigration reform, the environment, and reproductive rights. The most popular sign? "Women's rights are human rights."
"It's a neat example of the intersectionality of the feminist movement right now," she said. "You can see they have their passion about their specific issue, but we're all here together."
— GSR staff, 12:09 p.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
'To recreate partisanship ... would be detrimental'
Washington, D.C. — The Sisters of St. Joseph have a strong presence at the Women's March on Washington with more than 130 sisters, associates, ministry partners, friends and family making their voices heard at the event.
A bus sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, New York, filled quickly and had a waiting list, according to St. Joseph Sr. Helen Kearney, president of the congregation. Those attending include sisters; co-ministers from their skilled nursing facility, day care center and literacy center; as well as clients from the literacy center — 53 attendees, with 10 on a waiting list.
The congregation's charism includes the values of unity and the empowerment of women. Kearney said she is attending the march to communicate to political leaders "the values of inclusion, respect for diversity and the need to foster justice for all people."
Although the event will include people who support abortion, Kearney emphasized that her congregation upholds the value of life at all stages.
"To recreate partisanship when we gather would be detrimental to the bigger cause," she said.
— Heidi Schlumpf, 11:35 a.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
Dispatch from Boston
The march in Boston, which is expected to draw up to 90,000 people, began about 30 minutes ago.
— Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, 11:29 a.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
'I'm showing up'
St. Louis — "At first, I was going to save myself for specific actions, because I thought that would be more effective. It's about issues, not Trump, the man," said Mercy Sr. Michele Sallois about why she is marching. "But I began to realize politicians can be influenced by big numbers, by showing up. I think the Trump campaign violates everything our church teaches about social justice. There is a lot at stake. So I'm showing up."
— Sr. Mary Ann McGivern, 11:06 a.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
'Our nation, our faith is communal'
Oakland, California — Up and down the state, Californians will gather to show their support for a wide array of human rights. Rallies and marches are being held in the state Capitol, large urban cities, small rural and coastal communities, and the suburbs.
In Los Angeles, organizers said more than 92,000 people had registered for the 2-mile walk from Pershing Square to City Hall. Up to 35,000 are expected to march in San Diego. In California's famed wine country, marches will take place in Napa and Sonoma.
A large crowd is expected to arrive in downtown Sacramento for a mile-long walk to the Capitol, where an array of rally speakers will include Mayor Darrell Steinberg; Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP; and Alejandra Valles, chief of staff of SEIU United Service Workers West.
In Oakland, Meg Bowerman of St. Columba Parish will join in the march to the city's Civic Center with other members of the predominately African-American parish. The coordinator for JustFaith in the Oakland diocese, Bowerman said she hoped her participation would "demonstrate the value of solidarity with those who are oppressed and to learn from their perseverance and wisdom."
"I am most concerned about the division in our country on every level: wealth, education, understanding of power (which is based on fear and lack of understanding 'the other'). This division then leads to shutdown of communication and true listening to each side. The ripple effect will be devastating if we, people of faith, are silent," she said.
She said she also hoped the marches being held throughout the country would "offer hope and challenge to those feeling paralyzed by the outcome of the election."
In a reference to statements by the U.S. bishops, Bowerman said, "In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, we are mandated to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first." The march, she said, is one way to speak that "truth to power nonviolently."
Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Patricia Nagle and Notre Dame de Namur Sr. Sharon Joyer plan to link up with other women religious, along with members of the Alameda All Faiths Coalition, at the Oakland march.
"Our nation, our faith is communal," they wrote in an email about their participation. "We are a community of diverse races, cultures, ethnicity, sexual orientations, and immigration status. We believe that this diversity enriches us individually and communally. When we can come together in the midst of diversity around what we have in common and dream the way forward, we are stronger."
The march is about "putting our feet to the ground and moving forward in the Spirit of the Christ today, in the midst of such disorder," they added.
Doris Bilse, a member of Christ the King Parish in Pleasant Hill for more than 20 years, is attending the march in neighboring Walnut Creek to demonstrate "for decency, fairness and the strength to speak out in the years ahead." She worries about what kind of society America will become unless "we speak out for equality and prevent all the undoing of what's been accomplished under the Obama administration."
"I fear for the next generation, including my three granddaughters, especially if health care for women is dismantled," she added.
— Monica Clark, 10:54 a.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
'Women are women all over the world. I cannot just sit down'
Washington, D.C. — "I came to join my sisters — my larger, universal group of sisters," said Sr. Irma Dillard, a Religious of the Sacred Heart who traveled from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Women's March on Washington. She found out about the march via the internet shortly after the November election, got a plane ticket and urged other sisters to join in the march in D.C. or other cities.
Dillard was one of about 50 women religious plus a dozen other women who gathered Friday night at the Stuart Center, an education project and conference center of the Society of the Sacred Heart in Washington, D.C., for a potluck supper, a briefing on logistics for the march and some tips for peaceful responses to conflict.
The event, organized by Diane Roche, a Religious of the Sacred Heart sister and director of the Office of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation, gave sisters a chance to connect with others going to the march.
Sporting buttons with "Fight for $15" and "End Structural Racism," Dillard said she'd heard the fears of people who live in poverty who worry about losing health care coverage and immigrants being deported.
"I felt I really needed to be here," she said. "As women, we are a force, we know how to love, to nurture, to protect, to build up — especially to build up. We are going to protect those who don't have voices — our children, our old people, our poor."
While aware that some minority women had advocated sitting out the march — in part because minority women had supported presidential candidate Hillary Clinton whereas a majority of white women supported Donald Trump, and because they feel the event isn't inclusive — Dillard said, "It's not just a white woman thing. I'm not going to let it be because I'm here. How are we going to change things if we don't come to the table together? We can't continue to stay divided."
Several sisters made clear that they weren't marching to protest the newly sworn-in president, but rather to bring attention to those he needs to protect with his policies.
"We are concerned because some of the rhetoric has been so negative," said Franciscan Sr. Marie Lucey, associate director of the Franciscan Action Network. "We are calling on the president to protect and defend immigrants, refugees and our Muslim brothers and sisters."
To sisters from other countries, the march provides an opportunity to participate in an event that emphasizes universal rights.
"For me, it is important to defend human and women's rights," said Sr. Noeli Massoni, a Brazilian sister of the Carmelites of Vedruna who has lived in the United States for a year.
"We are insolidarity with American women," said Sr. Eucharia Madueke, a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur who coordinates the African Women Project of the African Faith and Justice Network and contributor to Global Sisters Report. "Their cause is our cause. Women are women all over the world. I cannot just sit down — when they win, we win. What makes me happy is that people aren't just sitting down. They are making their voices be heard."
Be mindful of your own attitude and the need to cultivate a sense of peace before "going out there," counseled MJ Park, co-founder of Little Friends for Peace, along with her husband Jerry, at a workshop at the Stuart Center on Friday night in Washington for more than 50 sisters and other women. "Go with a good spirit, a hopeful spirit."
Since most conflict arises from within, she advised sisters and others to counter negativity with peaceful approaches, eliciting empathy and understanding.
Be aware of your surroundings, she said. Should a situation arise, she said, stop, think it through, act with compassion and dignity, use "I" statements in verbal responses, breathe and relax.
— Gail DeGeorge, 10:31 a.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
MJ Park, co-founder of Little Friends for Peace, gives a workshop on nonviolent response to conflict to sisters who gathered Friday night at the Stuart Center in Washington, D.C., for a pre-march briefing. (GSR photo / Gail DeGeorge)
'Sisterhood is powerful'
Chicago — Beata Welsh is a parishioner at St. Nicholas Parish in Evanston, Illinois, a suburb just north of Chicago. She is traveling on a bus to Washington, D.C., with her daughter and a friend.
When asked why she decided to go to the march, she said, "I am marching for my daughter, my friends who helped found Women Employed in the '70s [a local women's empowerment organization] and for the First Wave of feminists on whose shoulders we all stand. ... Sisterhood is powerful."
— Nicole Sotelo, 10:15 a.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
'We stand for women at every stage of life'
Philadelphia — Rosemary Geraghty, the social media coordinator for Life Matters Journal will be marching side by side in Washington, D.C., with the pro-life New Wave Feminists, a group that was a co-sponsor of the march but was removed from the website after protests.
Geraghty is an atheist, but Life Matters Journal is composed mainly of people of faith and was founded by Aimee Murphy, who is Catholic. Geraghty, a Trump opponent, said she was excited when she heard about plans for the march in the days after the election, particularly its broader focus on human rights.
Initially, the march's website focused on human rights and access to reproductive health care, which she can get behind. ("We support all nonviolent choices," she said.) It wasn't until recently that the march organizers stated that they were pro-choice and in favor of safe, legal and affordable abortions, a stance they can't support, Geraghty said.
Nonetheless, they are going, she said.
"We're going to say we are feminists, many of us are women, and that we support human rights, regardless of gender, ethnicity, ability, immigration status, or gender identity, but we want to expand that to include everyone from the moment they come into existence, which is the moment of fertilization."
"We are not protesting the march," Geraghty added. "We recognize that, with Planned Parenthood and NARAL as partners, they do support abortion, but that won't make us stay away, though it seems as though that's what they want us to do. They want to suggest that pro-life women aren't for women's rights, but that's false. We stand for women at every stage of life. We're not going to be scared, we do care for women's rights, that's why we are going."
Geraghty, who is traveling from Pittsburgh with a Muslim friend, said that watching coverage of some of the unrest on Inauguration Day made her nervous. But she said she hopes the commitment of the organizers and marchers to nonviolent protest will carry the day, and peace will win out.
— Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans, 10:10 a.m. Eastern Saturday, Jan. 21
'We have a long way to go'
St. Louis — When asked why she will attend the march, Barbara Mecker, a co-member of the Loretto Community, said:
I have been particularly motivated by my 7-year-old granddaughter, Elise, to participate in this women's march. Elise was beyond excited in November that finally we were going to have a "girl" president. She was sure she was going to wake up in the morning with our first female president-elect, Hillary Clinton. As with so many of the rest of us, she was sorely disappointed. And trying to explain that Clinton really won the popular vote, just not the electoral vote, to a 7-year-old really does not work. I barely understand this!
In addition, Elise is in second grade at a Catholic grade school, the year that she will be making her first Communion. The priest has been visiting her classroom in preparation, and Elise has asked some serious questions of him.
"Is God a man or a woman?" God is not a person like us.
"Well, then, how did God have the genes to make a son? And why can't women be priests?" God only chose men.
"Well, you know, if you let women be priests, you wouldn't have a shortage ... "
One of Elise's favorite books is Gabby Douglas' book, Raising the Bar. Elise has marked inspirational passages in the book and memorized them. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, she reminded us of several of his inspirational sayings. I realize that although we have moved forward in some ways in equality for both women and minorities, we have a long way to go, both in our country and in our church. Even a 7-year-old girl can recognize this.
— Sr. Mary Ann McGivern, 10 a.m. Eastern time Saturday, Jan. 21
Kansas City, Missouri — Welcome to the live blog following the Women's March on Washington as well as other women's marches around the world. We will have ongoing coverage of events globally as the day goes on. Not sure what the march is about? Check out Shireen Korkzan's overview.
— GSR staff, 9:50 a.m. Eastern time Saturday, Jan. 21
Micaela Johnson, of Leawood, Kansas, in town to take part in Saturday's Women's March on Washington, takes a selfie with the Capitol Building in the background Jan. 18. (AP Photo / John Minchillo)
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