BY: STEVEN J. THOMAS AND ANDREW DECKER
January 23, the thirty-ninth anniversary of the legalization of abortion, was a cold, wet, and rainy day. Despite this, Franciscan University students were not deterred from enthusiastically participating in the March for Life, 2012.
The trip began Monday morning at 12:00 AM. From here, students were driven through the night and arrived at Washington, D.C. around 6 AM. Their first destination was the Verizon Center in downtown D.C., which provided them with the opportunity to listen to inspiring Christian music, go to Confession, and pray the Rosary. This all culminated in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in which the main celebrant was Donald Cardinal Wuerl. The Archbishop of Washington was joined by a dozen or so bishops, many priests, and an estimated crowd of 17,000 youth and other pro-lifers. An inspirational homily was delivered by Monsignor Charles Pope, who challenged the congregation to make "the loudest noise this building has ever heard!" This part of the trip, in the opinion of many students, was one of, if not the biggest, highlight.
"I thought it was awesome to have such a huge Mass, with so many people visibly participating at the same time," said freshman Michael Evert. Freshman Jared Rutnicki added, "It was probably the biggest Mass I've ever been to. You really felt like you were a part of a bigger body than yourself."
After the conclusion of the Mass, the spiritually energized students took to the streets and joined nearly 400,000 other marchers. For about an hour, roughly 1,000 Franciscan students stood on the National Lawn listening to pro-life religious leaders and politicians. These leaders proclaimed the importance of promoting the culture of life. After this, the actual March began, following the traditional route up Constitution Avenue. It was at this point, that the sheer immensity of the crowd could be felt as different groups merged onto the street. Banners from religious orders, individual churches, universities, and dioceses were proudly displayed. This was a testimony to the dedication of the many people who had traveled from all over the country. For freshman Emily Hicks, this was the most memorable part of the March.
"I thought it was really neat to see people from all over the nation gather in one spot and join together, to fight for something they all believe in," she said. "There were also people I met from Germany and France; so it wasn't just our nation, but people from all over the world coming to fight for our belief."
The students marched for over two hours, praying, singing hymns, and chanting pro-life slogans. They ended the March in front of the Supreme Court building and departed for Union Station to meet the buses. Many of the students were cold, wet, hungry, and exhausted. This only proved that they were determined to do their part to defend the sanctity of life. Students reacted positively to the March and said that they want to come back next year. Among them was junior Jordan Hudson, a veteran, who conveyed this desire stating, "This is my 9th year going, and I want to keep coming back."