Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger will lead a Rosary walk around the New York State Capitol next week to promote a culture of life.

The "Rosary Walk for Life," sponsored by the state's Knights of Columbus, will begin with a reflection from the Bishop at St. Mary's Church in Albany June 17 at 6 p.m. and continue with a procession along the public sidewalk. After Bishop Scharfenberger and laypeople lead decades of the Rosary, participants will gather back at the church for refreshments.

Organizers are hoping for up to 1,000 participants. They aim to gain recognition for the pro-life movement in the state, educate passersby and influence state legislation that threatens human life.

"It's about educating people and changing their hearts," said Teri Kippen, past president of a regional pro-life organization and a parishioner of Sacred Heart in Troy. "We want equality for all people - and that includes the unborn.

"We all start as a single cell," she continued, "but we all become human beings. These children are voiceless; they have no one to protect them. It still boggles my mind that people think abortion should be legalized."

Mrs. Kippen speaks out because she has children on the autism spectrum; she had her third child when she was almost 45 years old. When she found out about that pregnancy, she admitted, "I can't say that I was necessarily proud of my reaction. Now, I can't imagine my life without her. All children are a blessing."

Mrs. Kippen and other organizers read about Bishop Scharfenberger's visit to a local abortion facility soon after his April installment as Bishop of Albany. They felt inspired by his interest in pro-life issues and met with him to discuss the Rosary walk.

The Bishop has continued collaborating with the group through Facebook chats. They're especially moved by the story of his late nephew, Jonathan Scharfenberger, a young adult who was active in pro-life advocacy work until his death in a car accident in 2011.

"What a tremendous tribute to him this is," Mrs. Kippen said. The Bishop's "heroic witness to life is wonderful. I think it's a springboard of new energy in the Capital Region. It's just wonderful to have someone in our corner who is committed to the cause."

The New York State Council of the Knights of Columbus donated $800 toward the fees for holding the Rosary walk outside the Capitol. A Facebook page for the event (www.facebook.com/AlbanyRosaryRally) has more than 100 "likes." Our Lady of the Annunciation parish in Queensbury is renting buses to send people from North Country parishes.

Pro-life efforts from Catholics in the Albany Diocese have been "a little lackluster," Mrs. Kippen stated. "I think we've been missing the energy."

She hopes people will attend the Rosary walk even if they're not Catholic or don't know how to pray the Rosary: "The Lord isn't a bureaucrat. [For] people who have babies in their lives, it's kind of a no-brainer."