We Are Pilgrims, Not Tourists:
Archdiocese Sends Five-hundred to our Nation’s Capitol to Fight Abortion
By: Maria Cusimano Bruce ’04, Prolife Club Moderator, English Department
We lined the sidewalks, packed closely for we were many. Some of us stood among the rose bushes they planted to keep us out. Our fingers grasped our rosary beads. It was Tuesday morning, but D.C.’s Planned Parenthood hid behind closed doors. Perhaps the weather kept it closed. Or perhaps it was our prayers.
A few flurries greeted us when we stepped outside that morning, but with each passing minute the snow whirled around our faces more aggressively. The forecast predicted six inches that afternoon. The Capital building had closed, canceling our tour. Most streets had yet to be salted. Many residents stayed indoors. But we were pilgrims, not tourists. We walked to the White House and continued to pray.
Our journey began Saturday, January 18. We boarded one of ten buses carrying 500 youth from our archdiocese. Most of the local high schools and CYOs were represented. I came as a chaperone for 25 of my students from St. Mary’s Dominican High School. Our destination – Washington, D.C., for the March for Life on the 41st anniversary of the legalization of abortion in our nation.
The bus trip quickly developed into shared stories and laughter. Many were traveling to D.C. for the first time. Many were praying for snow. But we were pilgrims, not tourists, and the reason for our trip resided deep in our hearts.
By January 22, the day of the March, the snow had stopped falling. The sun blazed through a crisp, blue sky. But it was the coldest day of the week with highs in the teens and a wind chill in the negatives. We again reminded ourselves that we were pilgrims, not tourists, and collected on the National Mall for the pre-March rally. The air stung like needles. We wrapped our scarves around our faces and thanked God for something to offer up.
Then we marched. Hundreds of thousands of pro-life supporters stormed Capitol Hill. We saw groups from other dioceses, universities, and religious orders. We saw Catholics, Protestants, and non-religious supporters.
“Seeing the people gathered helps you feel a sense of solidarity,” said one of our seniors Stephanie Reuter.
As I looked around the crowds I noticed something that most of these varying groups had in common – we were in the company of mostly youths. Youths with a passion. Youths who did not mind that they couldn’t feel their toes or that they might be mocked by their peers or even their own families. Youths who are certain that abortion will end.
Relativism and self-centeredness pervade today’s society. Our government has failed us in protecting the dignity of human life. This culture of death looms over us, causing us to be both numb to its severity and hopeless for any change. I know I speak for many in sharing that it’s a struggle to see the future of our country as anything but bleak.
“You feel like you are one in a million and cannot make a difference,” said senior Courtney Dauzat, “but when you are surrounded by so many people… you realize there is hope and we will abolish abortion.”
“It helps you realize you can’t do it by yourself,” shared Abby Sticker, “You need Divine help.”
Witnessing so many young Americans fighting for the dignity of our unborn brothers and sisters is an answer to a prayer. We need hope, hope that this culture of death will indeed end, hope in the power of Christ’s victory.
We returned home, thankful to the Lord for the memories and the opportunity to stand for the dignity of life. With renewed hope we look forward to the day that the March for Life is no longer a plea for change, but a tribute to the millions of Americans who have lost their lives to the tragedy of abortion.
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