March for Life: Becoming Missionary Disciples

Marchers have been gathering in Washington D.C. since 1974 on January 22nd to protest the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the USA. While this was the 41st annual “March for Life,” joining the event for possibly the first time were students from Hope College. The Saint Benedict Forum sponsored the Hope College contingent.

The group departed from Holland around 3:30pm the day before the march, arriving at their destination safe, but tired around 2am Thursday morning. After a short night’s sleep the team was up and off to its first event, the “Life is Very Good” rally sponsored by the Diocese of Arlington, VA and held at the Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason University. Any sleepiness was soon dispelled by the inspirational message of Catholic Apologist Chris Stefanick, the music of Ike Ndolo Band, and the rousing homily brought by Bishop Loverde of the host diocese. Besides the thousands of young people in attendance, it was a powerful experience to see all the priests, seminarians and women religious present.

“There were around 100 or more priests that attended as well as four bishops” commented Eric Plaehn. “ I thought their dedication to the event, to the sacrament of the Eucharist and also to inspiring young minds (the next great generation) was very powerful." 

After the rally the group motored up to Washington D.C. to join the actual march. The group merged with the main body of marchers on Constitution Ave. about 5 blocks from the actual starting point. Hundreds of thousands of marchers passed famous sites such as the National Gallery of Art and the US Capitol with their peaceful but forthright pro-life message. The march ended appropriately enough in front of the Supreme Court building.

“It was eye-opening and moving to see so many people, who were mainly young adults, come together from across the globe to be the voice for the voiceless” said fellow marcher Kelley McKeon.

“I spent the majority of the March silent, just taking in everything that was happening around me.” According to Madeline Taylor, what was most impressive was the respect shown by all involved.

“To my knowledge, there was no belligerence; just the prayerful and respectful articulation of a deeply held belief. Indeed, there was a beautiful element of joy involved, as everyone present seemed to be happy to have the opportunity to speak up for our society's most vulnerable members” she said.

Following the March, the group walked down to the Holocaust Museum and learned of the atrocities committed against humanity by Nazi Germany during World War II. It was a good closing activity for a day focused on life and human dignity. It is clear that Catholics have much to do in our nation. Eric’s sentiment mirrored what the whole group was thinking at the end of the day.

“My mission is to take on the roles of a missionary disciple lovingly condemning evil, counseling and consoling the afflicted and to standing for my brothers and sisters, especially those that can’t stand for themselves.”