In July, the National March for Life committee announced Dan Heffernan as the newly appointed National March for Life coordinator for lay movements, a new position on the committee.
Heffernan has had extensive involvement in the pro-life movement over the past few years. Joining the Knights of Columbus in 1988, Heffernan continued to hold various positions within the council, including the Life and Family Values chairman (formally known as the pro-life liaison) from 2004 to 2006 in which he informed local councils on pro-life matters, the same-sex marriage bill (C-38), and other issues. More recently Heffernan served as the state board warden, and the state board advocate. Working through the Knights of Columbus, regardless of the title he held, Heffernan’s commitment to the pro-life movement has been unwavering. In 2005, Heffernan founded the Culture of Life Team, consisting of people working in the pro-life movement, who meet several times a year to bring together ideas, and act as a support network for one another.
Heffernan has been involved in the National March for Life in Ottawa for many years, and also attended the March for Life in Washington, D.C. on the 32nd anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, which Heffernan says, “was an overwhelming experience and one that gave me the stamina to keep pushing for a larger attendance here in Canada.” Through his involvement in the Knights, Heffernan constantly endorsed increasing pro-life activism within the Catholic organization, believing the Life Chain and National March for Life to be of particular importance.
As a longtime colleague and friend of Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes, Heffernan willingly accepted the position as National March for Life coordinator for lay movements when Hughes offered the job to him. Taking on this new position, Heffernan says, “Wouldn’t it be great if we had 100,000 people show up for the National March for Life in Ottawa representing the babies that are aborted each year. It would be a visual representation and one that would be difficult to ignore.”
Heffernan’s role on the committee will be to contact the lay groups within churches and inform them about the March for Life. Heffernan says he will work closely with each lay group, such as the Knights and the Catholic Women’s League, in order to encourage them and their members to attend the National March for Life, thus drawing closer to their goal to increase attendance every year. Heffernan plans to send information about the march to the lay groups, as well as help them organize buses for groups to have more accessible transportation to Ottawa. Heffernan will also encourage local groups to fundraise for the march.
Ambrose Atkins, one of the coordinators for the National March for Life, commends the informal work that Heffernan has been doing, in working with the Knights of Columbus and different parishes to expose them to the march. Atkins appreciates the additional help as a formal member of the committee that plans the march and says, “We most definitely welcome him aboard and wish him all the best.”
Heffernan believes that “the time is right” with respect to recruiting more people to go to the annual march because the 2010 demonstration had more media coverage than ever, both locally and nationally. Once the papers start reporting the large numbers of people attending the March, more people want to go, Heffernan says. He believes that with more media exposure this past year, he will be able to reach out to more lay groups to inform, educate and encourage them about the importance of the National March for Life and the continuous fight for the rights of the unborn.