COLORADO SPRINGS. On Jan. 26, 35 young people between the ages of 14-18 arrived at the Pastoral Center parking lot at 3:45 a.m. to begin a journey to the March for Life in Washington, D.C.
Twenty of them were scholarship winners from Divine Redeemer School, whose winning entry in the 2015 Youth Project Contest in conjunction with the 2015 Respect Life Dinner earned them the scholarship for the trip. Mary Theresa Thomas read the students an email from Bishop Michael Sheridan sending them on their way with his prayers and good wishes, followed by Father Joe Dygert leading the group in the Blessing of Pro-Life Pilgrims before their journey.
Once in Washington, the students attended the opening Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception celebrated by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and concelebrated by Fathers Joe Dygert and Gregory Bierbaum of the Diocese of Colorado Springs, among others.
The morning of the march dawned clear and brisk and the group, accompanied by their eight adult chaperones, walked to the National Mall. In the shadow of the Washington Monument, the group braved crowds, a Secret Service checkpoint and a wait to see Kellyanne Conway, Vice President Mike Pence, Cardinal Dolan and Congresswoman Mia Love and others speak on the sanctity of life and the work to save the unborn, the terminally ill and the aged and infirm. The march then began headed towards the Supreme Court complex, where speakers again took the microphone to testify to the effects of abortion in their own lives as part of Silent No More.
While six of the students, along with their adult leaders, Mary Simmons and Melissa Smith, attended the Students for Life of America conference on Saturday, the rest of the group visited Mount Vernon and the major monuments on the mall. Several students, led by Father Dygert and Hannah Smith, visited the Holocaust Museum.
Bishop Sheridan greeted the tired pilgrims upon their return to Colorado Springs on Jan. 29. Mark your calendars — the next youth trip to the March for Life will be Jan 25-28, 2018 in San Francisco.
(Mary Theresa Thomas is special projects director for the Diocese of Colorado Springs.)