March for Life trip was prayerful, joyful event
Julie Bailey
/ Categories: Diocesan News, Respect Life

March for Life trip was prayerful, joyful event

By Julie Bailey

Joy! That is the main word that comes to mind as I look back on the 2024 Diocesan Youth Pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., for the National March for Life on Jan. 19.

Our group of 32 (19 youth, 13 chaperones) was enormously blessed by the entire experience. Thank you to every one of you who made this pilgrimage possible by your generous support of the Bishop’s Respect Life Fund whether through periodic donations or through your gifts at the Bishop’s Respect Life Roundup.

Father Rajeev from St. Peter Parish in Monument and Deacon Bob Elliott (and his amazing wife, Teresa) from St. Gabriel the Archangel accompanied the group, enabling us to celebrate Mass on our travel days during our long layovers at Dallas Love Field. They also led us in morning and evening prayer and offered some thoughtful reflections for our individual prayer time.

Adding a day to the trip allowed us to attend the “Marching 101” seminar offered by the National March for Life team as well as to spend several hours exploring the St. John Paul II Shrine. The seminar gave us insights into current legislative activity both at the federal level and in several states. As we were riding our bus up to the shrine, we discussed what we had heard, and compared it with what is currently going on in Colorado. Then we prayed a pro-life rosary.

The St. John Paul II Shrine afforded our group the opportunity to take a deep dive into this modern-day saint’s personal story. Seeing video of significant moments in his papacy, reading his writings, and hearing him speak helped us all understand him and his passion for life more completely. We not only prayed in a special chapel devoted to the Luminous Mysteries, which he gave us, we venerated his relics as well as those of Blessed Carlo Acutis (who brought us the traveling Eucharistic Miracles of the World display), and the recently beatified Ulma family (who were martyred in Poland by the Nazis as punishment for sheltering Jewish people). Our pilgrims were visibly moved by these opportunities to learn about and pray with saints who lived so recently.

Thursday evening found us in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the March for Life kickoff Mass. Members of our group took advantage of the opportunity for confession and time to explore the beautiful, enormous, church. Father Rajeev enjoyed concelebrating the Mass with almost 200 other priests and bishops from around the country.

We awoke Friday morning to several inches of new snow, and it continued to fall throughout the day. After a beautiful Mass (concelebrated by Father Rajeev and Bishop Michael Izen from Minnesota; Deacon Anthony Ambuul also served) at St. Mary Mother of God Church in Chinatown, we made our way to the National Mall for the rally and march. As always, the speakers were compelling, but some of our group might tell you the best part was the massive snowball fight — dubbed “the war between the states” — involving teams from the Diocese of Colorado Springs, including eight of our seminarians, and the Diocese of Richmond. Of course, we won.

In contrast to many other recent marches and protests, the 2024 National March for Life, with the theme of “With Every Woman, For Every Child,” was a joyful expression of the love for life. It was an event our group will never forget. Thank you again for making it possible.

(Julie Bailey is Director of the Respect Life Apostolate of the Diocese of Colorado Springs.)

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