Cape Cod parishioner honored to sing at March for Life

By Kenneth J. Souza
Anchor Staff

POCASSET, Mass. — This year’s 45th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. was historic, since it marked the first time that a sitting President of the United States addressed attendees gathered on the National Mall via a live video feed.

In addition to President Donald Trump’s words of encouragement, this year’s pre-march rally was also an historic occasion for one 14-year-old girl from Buzzards Bay, who not only attended her first-ever March for Life, but had the distinct honor of singing the National Anthem during the opening ceremonies.

McKenna Donohue, daughter of Knight of Columbus Sean Donohue and his wife, Natalie, was given the chance of a lifetime to sing in front of hundreds of thousands of people at the 2018 March for Life in our nation’s capital.

“It was amazing,” McKenna recently told The Anchor. “It was scary to see all the people, but it was a great experience.”

Noting that the experience was “a great opportunity,” McKenna added that she’s always wanted to sing in front of a large crowd.

“And I think it’s a great way to show my support and my family’s support of Pro-Life,” she added.

A choir singer and parishioner at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Pocasset and a freshman at Falmouth High School, McKenna attended this year’s March for Life with her proud parents and three siblings.

“The March for Life was absolutely an amazing experience,” said McKenna’s mom, Natalie. “The march itself was incredible, but then to see McKenna up on that stage was amazing. To see a young life up there promoting a cause like that, it was just incredible — it really was.”

In a year of firsts, this was also the first time that the proud mother of four, who considers herself a huge Pro-Life advocate, attended the March for Life.

“It’s hard to believe, but my husband is active in the military and  he was stationed in Alaska for four years before this and there always seemed to be something going on,” she said. “So we never made it to the march prior to this year, but we were sure glad we were able to go.”

McKenna’s father Sean, who is a member of the Buzzards Bay Council 2911 Knights of Columbus and has served in the Coast Guard for 12 years, recently shared his thoughts in a KOC newsletter about what it meant to be at this year’s March for Life with his family.

“It means a great deal,” he said. “My family and I have strong feelings about Pro-Life and about the message that the march represents. It just means a lot that we can be a part of the March for Life going forward — even if it’s just a small part in it.”

Donohue attributes his strong Catholic background and belief in faith and family as the reason why being Pro-Life is so important.

“We truly believe in the need to protect the unborn children of this world, and to give them an opportunity in life that God wants this to be,” he said. “It’s kind of been one of my wife and my important messages that we like to support within our Catholic faith, and to spread the message to everybody else.”

His daughter McKenna got the unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime gig after her mom posted a video on Facebook of her singing, which her aunt shared with Jeanne Mancini, March for Life president, for whom she works.

“She showed her a video of me singing the National Anthem at one of my school’s basketball games,” McKenna said. “So she said she would love if I could come and sing (at the march).”

After McKenna heard the news of being chosen, she knew she would have to be well-prepared, so she took voice lessons for weeks leading up to the event.

“I found out about a month beforehand, so I started to go for voice lessons,” she said.

While the high school freshman has had some experience singing the National Anthem before the boys’ and girls’ basketball games and those of the girls’ volleyball team — of which she is also a member — she said the notion of being out there during the March for Life rally was a bit daunting.

“I was little nervous, but my sister Bethany prayed with me beforehand, so that definitely made me feel better,” she said.

It’s clear that having her family there to support her was a great comfort.

“I don’t really have many close friends down in that area, and it would have been hard to get people from up here to go down, because we had school on Friday,” McKenna said. “But I’m glad I went with my mom and dad and my siblings.”

“We’re actually from that area originally, my aunt works for the Diocese in Arlington, my mom lives there, (and) all of my family still lives there,” Natalie added. “So, we have quite the network down there and we were able to stay with family.”

In addition to witnessing her daughter pay tribute to our great nation in song, the proud Pro-Life mom also got to experience the March for Life herself, which is something she’ll not soon forget.

“It’s almost reassuring to see all those people marching, because (generally) what you hear in the media and read in the newspapers or see on the news is nothing about (Pro-Life) or you only hear the other side of it,” she said. “To go there and see a line of people stretched out where you can’t even see the end of it, and the amount of people in front of you and next to you — it’s almost uplifting to know that this topic, this crisis, is so important to so many other people, too. You really leave there fulfilled.”

McKenna was equally impressed by the number of people who attended the March for Life and, in particular, the many young attendees there who were close to her own age.

“I was expecting to see more older people, so it was cool seeing all the young people there,” she said.

“I don’t think she knew what to expect,” her mom agreed.

Having now experienced it firsthand, McKenna is already looking forward to next year’s March for Life and hopes she can return.

“I would love to go back (to the March for Life) again,” she said.

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