By Kathleen Dunn
Kathleen is the President of the Paul Sanders and Janine Lieu Pro Life Club at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy (Barry’s Bay, ON). This post originally appeared on the blog of Catholic Chapter House on February 1st. It appears here with permission.
This past Monday, January, 24th, the streets of Washington were flooded with 400,000 devoted Pro Life activists for the National March for Life. Among this multitude of young people, I had the privilege of standing with twenty of my classmates and three staff members from Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy. It was a rousing experience, as many of us have never attended such a large Pro Life rally before. With generous donations from the local Knights of Columbus, and St. Hedwig’s parishioners, we were fortunate to be able to afford the adequate rental vans to commute the group of us down to the States from Barry’s Bay, Ontario.
As an initiative of our school’s Paul Sanders and Janine Lieu Pro Life Club, we felt there were a number of reasons why we should make the pilgrimage to Washington’s March. First of all, as the Academy educates a number of American students, we felt it important to give them the opportunity to attend their nation’s march with strong support from their peers. Secondly, the United States is a country that is influential both culturally and politically. As Canadians, we have a government who doesn’t seem to have the backbone to make these important decisions. If the American government changes its laws on abortion, we can have hope that Canada would emulate this movement towards the sanctity of life. Finally, and most importantly, as Pro Lifers, Catholics, and simply as human beings, we have the duty to protect the innocent, no matter what country they are from. If we have any opportunity to pray for, support, and stand up for the voiceless, we have the responsibility to do so.
With that being said, so began our 12 hour trek, beginning in Barry’s Bay, early on the previous Saturday morning. Everyone gathered in the school parking lot, with excited spirits, ready to get started on our pilgrimage. With blessings from Fr. Brian Christie, we set off in 4 vehicles towards our destination. Thanks be to God, we arrived safely and we were welcomed by the Thomason family, who so generously put all of us up for the next three nights in their beautiful, Virginia home.
After spending Sunday afternoon exploring the sights of Washington, we attended the National Prayer Vigil for Life Mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. This is where our March for Life experience truly began. We joined 10,000 Catholics, packing the pews and filling the aisles, for the celebration of this Holy Mass. I don’t know how this great number of us fit in this Basilica, large though it was. I had never seen this many Catholics – mainly youth! – under one roof before. Hundreds of bishops, cardinals, priests, seminarians, and other religious attended as well. This in itself was an uplifting sight to see. The Mass was beautiful, traditional and reverent, complete with booming organ and a spectacular choir. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, was the principle celebrant of the Mass, and gave a motivating homily to the multitude of Catholics who attentively listened from any and every spare floor space in the Basilica. This Mass, I felt, was the most beautiful part of our pilgrimage, as the spiritual battle is the most necessary victory for the Pro Life Movement.
The following day brought the March itself. We stood together at the National Mall and watched as thousands upon thousands poured onto the open grass. As I sat on my friends shoulders, and looked out across the sea of people, I could not even see to the end of the crowd. It was such an incredible, exciting and empowering group to be a part of. Again I must mention what a testament to our future it was to see that the majority of people attending the March were young people – from universities and high schools all over the country.
We listened as a number of senators and prominent leaders gave motivating speeches to the crowd. Their booming and extremely passionate voices gave encouragement to us to have hope for and to fight for respect for life. Soon enough, the March began. Although it wasn’t a particularly long walk distance wise, it took a few hours to complete as we slowly filled the streets to march towards Supreme Court. Various clusters of people began praying rosaries, Divine Mercy chaplets, novenas, singing hymns and belting out Pro Life chants. The catchy, “Obama, Obama! You had a pro life mama!” was my personal favorite. Despite sore feet, legs and voices, everyone valiantly completed the March at around 4 in the afternoon. Some continued on to pray in front of the Supreme Court building, others left to catch their busses back to their home state. A beautiful and important day had been experienced, full of prayer, sacrifice, and devotion. The passion and zeal of Pro Life Americans was uplifting and inspiring to all of us, and encouraged us to bring that enthusiasm back to Canada. .
Some might find it strange that we would attend another country’s rally against their government. For us, though, it was a missionary trip to help those who cannot help themselves. Just like any university may make a trip to a third world country to build homes for those in poverty, we, too, can make a pilgrimage to another country, to help save those lives that are being murdered on mass every day. Through prayer, support, example and in standing up for truth, it is our duty as human beings to protect God’s children no matter where they are.
The Paul Sanders and Janine Lieu Pro Life Club of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy would like to thank the Barry’s Bay Knights of Columbus, as well as the parish of St. Hedwig’s in Barry’s Bay for their enormous support of prayers and donations to this pilgrimage to Washington. Also, a great thank-you to the Thomason family, and the local Mom’s group for cooking for us, and giving us a place to sleep during our pilgrimage.
N.B. The views expressed by guest bloggers do not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.