Respect Life Director marches with youth one last time before retirement

by Mary Thoelke

Rachelle Savageau (left) retired from the Respect Life Office for the Diocese of Fargo on Jan. 31.

Rachelle Savageau has worked for 25 years in the Respect Life Office for the Diocese of Fargo, promoting the sanctity of human life, working always to heal, mend, and restore broken hearts and souls. She has traveled the country taking courses in post-abortion counseling and spiritual direction. On Jan. 31, she retired from her position with the diocese.

Over the past 21 years, Rachelle has also gathered thousands of students, chaperones, and priests to attend the March for Life in Washington D.C. The 2019 March for Life, held on January 17, was the last she would lead for the diocese. In those years they’ve attended the March with as many as 800,000 other participants in any given year and experienced a movement bigger than anyone would ever be able to tell them about. While in D.C., she has led pilgrims to the Holocaust museum, the grounds and museum at Gettysburg, Mother Seton’s Shrine in Emmitsburg, Md., the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes at the Seminary in Emmitsburg, and Friendly’s restaurant and ice cream parlor with seminarians from the Fargo Diocese.

Each year they spend hours in the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception holding spaces for one another while small groups take turns touring the shrines and gift shops before the magnificent Mass for the March for Life. The gathering of bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, lectors, and musicians there is unrivaled anywhere in the United States.

After a week of intense walking, adoration hours, rosaries, Masses, and small group gatherings each student carries home the special gift of having prayed in a Franciscan monastery, whose mission is to guard and maintain the sacred places in the Holy Land. This monastery has shrines that replicate these sights of the Holy Land.

One particular monk, the esteemed Brother Max, has been there to greet, welcome, and help Rachelle keep the students and chaperones fed, housed, and welcomed with gifts made in the Holy Land for each student, chaperone, and priest.

This experience has been carved out over the years by our dear Rachelle so that young people from the Diocese of Fargo would experience—spirit, soul, and body—what it means to be pro-life and a Catholic. In Matthew 5:14–15, the Lord says, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.” We honor Rachelle this year on her last trip to Washington D.C. with students from the Fargo Diocese. May her retirement move her into many other rooms so that her light will continue to shine, according to her Lord’s perfect will.

Mary Thoelke lives in Crystal and chaperoned for the March for Life for many years.