While official figures haven’t yet been released, organizers estimate that between 500,000 and 600,000 people participated in the Jan. 25 March for Life in Washington, D.C., and more than 50,000 participated in the Walk for Life West Coast on Jan. 26. Participation by elementary, high school, and college students was high, particularly from Catholic schools. Students from the University of Notre Dame led the March for Life. Students from Thomas Aquinas College had leadership roles in the Walk for Life West Coast.
Jan Fox from Serra Catholic High School in McKeesport, PA – a school recognized as a Catholic Honor Roll school – accompanied 37 students to the March. She said she has participated in nearly every March since attending one as an eighth grade student in 1998.
“As a committed Catholic, we should always be optimistic,” Fox told the Washington Post, expressing her hope that abortion will be banned again. “Things can change.”
Mount St. Mary’s University brought more than 280 people on five buses. That number included at least 110 students, more than 170 seminarians, and several faculty members.
Students and seminarians from Mount St. Mary’s University aboard the bus on their way to the March for Life.
Students from the Mount participated in a Vigil for Life evening retreat before boarding the buses to participate in the March for Life.
“The Vigil preps you for what you are about to face the following morning,” said junior Carolyn Shields. “You’re surrounded with your generation…You start the morning with Mass in the Basilica and you bus off to speak for those that couldn’t. One third of my generation is missing.”
More than half of the student body from the College of Saint Mary Magdalen in Warner, NH traveled 10 hours to take part in the March. It’s one of many ways that Magdalen students support the culture of life. Students have participated in HHS mandate protests, and senior Ava Voisseum, president of Spes Vitae – the college’s pro-life club – addressed the entire Magdalen community on the culture of life.
Students from The College of Saint Mary Magdalen participate in the March for Life.
Christendom College sent its entire student body – some 400 students, faculty, and staff to the March. Students were excited to be a part of the annual demonstration.
“The March is so invigorating because it is a chance to renew our commitment to life with each other and with God,” said senior Stephen Wood. “And there is no better way of living out this commitment than by walking in a spirit of prayer and penitence through the streets of our nation’s capital.”
The College has historically cancelled classes for the day of the March so that the entire school can attend. The student body began the day with morning Mass at Christendom’s Christ the King chapel, then boarded the buses for the drive to Washington. Along the way, students prayed a Rosary for the intentions of the pro-life movement and for an end to abortion.
“Whether it’s your first time to the March or your tenth, it never gets old,” said sophomore Emily Bot, who has attended the March many times. “Being surrounded by thousands of other pro-lifers is an amazing feeling—knowing that we are not alone in the fight—it’s a great experience!”
Students returned from the March with a renewed purpose to continue in the pro-life work that they are active in year-round. Some of these pro-life activities include Students for Life, a club that focuses on supporting the pro-life cause through activism, and Shield of Roses, a student group that prays every Saturday morning in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic in D.C. Students also volunteer their time and talent at the crisis pregnancy center in Front Royal.
In San Francisco, the day after Washington, D.C.’s March for Life, more than 50,000 people participated in the ninth annual Walk for Life West Coast rally.
Among them was Thomas Aquinas College senior Michael Masteller. He wrote about his participation in the Walk for Life at Zenit. He remarked about a protestor’s sign that struck him.
“There was one protestor’s banner that stuck out from all the rest. On it was written: ‘This walk hates women!’ Naturally, my first response was to think: ‘That’s a lie! Clearly we treat women better than you do.’ Just then, though, the words of Fr. Illo and Archbishop Cordileone appeared in my mind. I knew that even though we might not commit abortions, we are not totally innocent of dishonoring women—we too are guilty and stand in need of conversion. Even if we might not be guilty of committing this sin of abortion, how many of us have neglected to defend women from being dishonored? For myself, I knew that I could be doing a better job at this, for it is usually through a lack of loving on my part that others are not brought to see the Truth.”
Papal Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano delivered a special message to the Walk for Life participants from Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope’s message also went out via Twitter.
“I join all those marching for life from afar, and pray that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life,” said the Pope’s tweet.
“His Holiness is grateful to all those who take part in this outstanding public witness to the fundamental human right to life and to the moral imperative of upholding the inviolable dignity of each member of our human family, especially the smallest and the most defenseless of our brothers and sisters,” Archbishop Vigano told those gathered.
“You are a powerful witness that God’s truth cannot be silenced,” said San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone, who blessed participants to begin the event. “Yes, we are here to stay because life is good and life is holy.”
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