This weekend, Trinity students and adults and 300,000 of their closest friends marched on Washington, DC to protest the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States. This was the 39th annual March for Life and for me, one of the best. This was my fifth time at the March and my third with Trinity High School.
We gathered in our school gym bright and early on Sunday at 5:15am for Mass. Father Richard Dion, the pastor of Saint Anthony Parish in Manchester, graciously offered (well, agreed) to say Mass for us. It was quite simple but he set the tone well for our pilgrimage. I'd be lying if I said I remember everything he said in his homily as my mind was racing but I remembered he said a lot, "We have an agenda..."
After some housekeeping matters, we headed out on the buses around 6am. We had to turn around as some adults forgot to moves their cars but we were back on the road at 6:30am. Father Richard drove down with us as well. We arrived in New York City around 11:45am and the groups had 3 hours to do some sight seeing. Some groups did a lot - ice skating at Rockefeller Plaza, going to the top of the Empire State Building, etc. My group got some lunch and just walked around, I kind of feel bad! We were back on the road at 3pm and stopped again at a rest stop in Delaware a few hours later. The Patriots game was on in the rest area and with 5 minutes left in the game, we decided to stay and watch the rest of the game. There was a TV on the other side made up of mostly Ravens fans and I am sure they didn't like our roar when their kicker missed that field goal.
It was back on the road and we arrived at our schools - Elizabeth Seton High School for the girls and Dematha Catholic High School for the boys - around 8:30pm or so. These schools have been letting us stay in the gyms and using their facilities for 7 years no at absolutely no cost. They have been so good to us and this year was no exception. The boys had a lot of energy as you can imagine and played basketball and football for a couple of hours before we shut the lights out at 11:30pm. I slept in the hallway on the floor as I snore like nobodies' business. It was a tough night of sleep as all I had was a blanket and a pillow but I woke up easily at 5:30am.
The cafeteria staff fed our boys and we were picked up around 7am. We headed for the Verizon Center in downtown Washington for the highlight of the trip - the Youth Rally and March for Life. Here are 20,000 teenagers, hundreds of priests, bishops, deacons, religious, and seminarians gathered. The music was top notch and had everyone out of their seats. The Mass was celebrated by the archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl. He always begins the Mass by welcoming the bishops and the people of their dioceses. The people always respond by clapping and yelling. Bishop Libasci had told me earlier that he wanted people to go crazy when they announced us and we certainly did!
The Mass was very powerful, especially the homily by Msgr. Charles Pope, a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington. I would not be doing it any justice if I tried to recap it for you - just do yourself a favor and watch it here (if you don't watch the whole thing, at least fast forward to the last 2 minutes or so). Following Mass, Bishop Libasci greeted everyone from Manchester and we presented him with a t-shirt that all the Trinity pilgrims were wearing. He joked with me that he would wear it on his head as it was raining out.
We all then proceeded outside for the march. We've always brought these giant signs that say LIFE, mostly so our group can stay together. We had three this year which were generously made by the Photiades family and put together by Paul Pearsall, father of Lauren '08 and Dan '10. We walked down to the Mall and huddled outside a museum while waiting for the march to begin. Mr. Andrew Nelson graciously brought donuts for our kids who were ready to revolt, they were so hungry. Eventually the march started and we slowly made our way down Constitution Avenue and up to the Capitol. It's quite a sight to look back at the top of Capitol Hill and see the swarm of people behind you.
Everyone then had a couple of hours to walk around and we were back on the road by 5:45pm, arriving back in Manchester around 3:45am! I cannot thank all the pilgrims and adult chaperones who took part. I am especially grateful to Mr. Pearsall and Mrs. Henning.
Speaking of Mrs. Henning, be sure to check out the video she put together of the March below: