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March for Life 2018: A moving experience

By Beth Murphy, Director of Marketing Communications

On my first trip to the March for Life with Scecina’s Crusaders for Life, I spent four straight days with 48 teenagers, including 22 hours on a bus (not including the bus time in Washington, D.C., traffic). 

Not only did I survive, I had a great experience! Thankfully, when we arrived at the hotel after the bus trip from Indy, pizza was waiting for us. Kudos to Mr. Jim Maslar, Catholic theology teacher and moderator of the Crusaders for Life club. He coordinated the entire trip, planning every detail, including the meals at the hotel each night. No one went hungry. 

Before the March for Life on Friday, we left our hotel early to attend the Life is VERY Good rally in EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Va., where George Mason University’s Patriots play basketball. Thank you to Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and the Diocese of Arlington, Va., for their hospitality, for a well-done rally and Mass, and for the Chick-fil-A lunch. 

(Click here to see the video of Scecina’s contingent at the March for Life 2018.

The rally featured the Ben Walther Band, which also led the Mass music, and a rousing talk about serving others by Ennie Hickman, a Houston-based missionary who runs Adore Ministries with his wife. At Mass, there were so many priests that I couldn’t keep count. 

Monsignor Walter Erbì (First Counselor, Apostolic Nunciature) delivered this Apostolic Blessing from Pope Francis

“Respect for life is central to the building of a truly just, good and free society in which each person is welcomed as a brother or sister in our great human family. The promotion of a culture of life thus represents an exciting and demanding task set before each new generation. For this reason, Pope Francis is especially grateful for the witness of the young, whose generosity, idealism and concern inspired them to raise their voices on behalf of the most defenseless and vulnerable among us. To all taking part in the March for Life and to the many others who support them by their prayers and sacrifices, the Holy Father cordially imparts his apostolic blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the world.” 

After Mass, we were back on the bus to head to D.C. and the highlight of the trip: the 45th March for Life, which has taken place each year since the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. The students and the weather cooperated. Together we prayed the Rosary and marched to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend life from conception to natural death. We wore our red-and-gold striped hats donated by a generous Scecina family. The hats came in handy to quickly find members of our group in the huge crowd. Many people held aloft signs, most of them joyful: “We’re the pro-life generation,” “A person’s a person no matter how small,” “Choose Life, Choose Love.” The sun shone above, the crowd was large (over 100,000, according to media accounts) and very polite and enthusiastic. 

“I think mostly I liked, as the signs said, the message about abortion,” said Anthony Hentz, a freshman from St. Michael Catholic Church and School who was making his first trip to the March for Life. “It was nice to realize that you’re not alone.” 

Anthony and Scecina’s other students saw thousands of young people, just like them, who believe in the same thing: the dignity of human life. Witnessing the many thousands of people left an indelible impression on the students. We also saw delegations from Canada and France who shared the pro-life message. 

“What I like about coming to the March for Life is seeing how so many people come together and march . . . to save people’s lives. I really like that. It’s very moving,” said Crusaders of Life President Monica Higgins as she stood before the U.S. Supreme Court building. Monica is a parishioner at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church and a graduate of Lourdes school. 

On Saturday, the day after the March, we headed out early for a pilgrimage to Arlington National Cemetery. Each year, the students and chaperones on the March for Life trip visit Arlington to see the monument that honors Catholic chaplains, including Father Thomas Scecina, who were killed while serving their country in WWI, Korea and Vietnam. 

We also visited the Museum of the Bible, which just opened in November 2017, and the Museum of African-American History (right) and Culture, which opened in September 2016. Our final stop was at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, whose mission includes taking care of the shrines of the Christian religion in the Holy Land. The monastery in Washington, D.C., features replicas of Holy Land shrines and contemplative gardens. We attended Mass in the monastery’s beautiful church. 

Now that I’ve been there, done that, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you to our other chaperones, Principal Joe Brettnacher, Melissa Hollowell and Nick Petrone, and to our patient bus driver, Tom. 

I hope each student at Scecina can take part in this opportunity to visit our nation’s capital and join the march at some point in their four years of high school at Scecina. It is a great opportunity. 

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