Bronco Activists Inspired to Stand Up for Beliefs at Annual March for Life
Posted 01/29/2019 01:27PM
On Wednesday, January 16th, a group of enthusiastic Montini Catholic students began their annual pilgrimage to the world's largest pro-life event, the March for Life in Washington D.C. The group of young Bronco activists joined hundreds of thousands as they remembered those who have been lost to abortion. The March was held on Friday, January 18, 2019 with the theme, 'Unique from Day One. Pro-Life is Pro-Science.' "Science is behind the Pro-Life Movement," said Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life on marchforlife.org. (In the United States, tragically 1.21 million Americans are aborted annually whereas only 20,000 infants are adopted. This means that for every 1 infant that is adopted into a loving family in the U.S., another 61 babies are not given the chance for life. Source: Marchforlife.org)
The historic march, now in its 46th year, is held every January at our nation's capitol. January 22nd marks the anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court decision making abortion on demand available throughout the United States. Each year the Montini attendees support the March for Life Education and Defense Fund in their goal to overturn Roe v. Wade. Thirty-six Montini students, accompanied by teachers, Mr. Denis Block and Ms. Katie Wall, braved the bitter cold when they left for our nation's capital on the evening of the 16th and traveled through the night, by bus, to arrive at their destination. The 15-hour journey was made with fellow students from the Diocese of Joliet.
Upon arrival in Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning, January 17th, the group attended the Mass for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Early Friday morning, the day of the march, the group left to attend a Youth Rally at the Capital One Center. "This Mass had over 32,000 youths in attendance," informed Ms. Wall. "There were excellent speakers, worship music prior to the Mass." After the Youth Rally, they walked to the March for Life Rally where we heard speakers including Ben Shapiro and Vice President, Mike Pence.
Sophomore Megan Kosmach was honored to be able to attend what was her first March for Life and is hoping to be able to attend again with Montini next year. "My best memory from the trip will be the March itself. Seeing all those people standing with me for one cause was really inspirational!" The march was also a first for sophomore Maria Hemmersmeier, whose brother, Jack (a junior), also attended the event. "I loved seeing how enormous the crowd was, and how many of the people there were around my age," she said. "The person who inspired me most was one of the speakers at the Youth Rally. He said that people say that pro life people like me don't belong in modern society, but that this is a good thing, and that what pro life people are going to do is change that. He has inspired me to do just that!"
"This was an excellent trip. Our students are always very engaged and focused on the cause," said Wall. "We talked about what we learned on the bus ride home and every student shared profound statements about how much they care about this issue and what they gained from the experience." She added. "Overall, they are a very motivated group who want to bring what they have learned and experienced back to Montini. They are excellent leaders and are truly focused on creating a culture of life in our school and world."
Senior Grania O'Flaherty has currently attended three marches (and counting)! Like most of the Montini students attending, Grania, found the ride to DC long and uncomfortable but said it was a great experience in the long run. "It was a nice time to bond with my friends," she said. "It feels amazing to be a part of something bigger than myself. I was marching for those who cannot and that is what moves so many people about this March. It is for the babies and making life a possibility for all." This event was also a family affair for Grania whose sister, Enya and brother Cillian attended the march as well. "I am inspired by all moms in our world because they chose life for their children. They are the reason we are able to march!"
Senior Nicholas Alandy was also proud to be returning from his third march. "I've gone every year minus freshman year when we got snowed out," he said. "I got some of my friends to go and we all had a good time. It is always a great feeling to be a part of something bigger than yourself, and to represent Montini while on the march just makes you understand how much your voice matters." Nicholas is greatly influenced by his grandmother who he credits for inspiring him to stand up for life. "She always cheers me on whenever I leave for the marches," he said. "It's also very inspiring to arrive and the march and see all of these people standing up for the same cause. You get a sense that you're not alone and that all these people believe in the same cause as you."
"The March for Life is a very uplifting experience every time I attend," said junior Angelina Greico. "I find it very inspiring that there are so many people who share the same beliefs as I do and are willing to show that they're not afraid to express these beliefs. Even the speaker said that there were so many marchers that she couldn't see the end of the crowd! It's also great to see how much joy everyone had— despite the cold weather and the mud everywhere. The pro-life group at Montini is growing and I'm so excited to be a part of it!" Angelina enjoyed listening to the speakers and finds it interesting to hear their stories and learn from their experiences. "It gives me more knowledge behind my beliefs so that I can share what I've learned with others and spread the message about the importance of life from every stage."
Junior Ashley Baka has attended two marches as a Bronco. "The Basilica is the most breathtaking church I have ever been in," she said, adding that she was grateful to be able to explore it before Mass on Thursday. "Participating in the March has been one of the greatest experiences of my life," she said. "You are surrounded by tens of thousands of people marching for the same belief - that everyone, no matter how small, deserves the right to live. It is an extremely powerful and moving experience because you realize that you are a part of something much greater than yourself. It is also so awesome to see that people are uniting for the betterment of the whole world and many generations to come." It is Ashley's dream, as well as the dream of all Montini marchers that one day there won't be a need to march to gain rights for the unborn. "Hopefully we will soon just have a celebration that the unborn have gained rights and that abortion is illegal once and for all!"
Ashley added, "Prior to the March, I had always been Pro-Life, but after hearing from some of the speakers, I became more inclined to stand up for my beliefs!"
The March for Life began as a small demonstration in 1973 and rapidly grew to be the largest pro-life event in the world. Students and teachers at Montini Catholic have been participating in this somber event for over 19 years. Over the past few years, the number of students attending has been on a steady rise, with those going, inspiring others to attend with them.
Ms. Wall has admitted in the past that there can be hectic elements of taking a group of over 30 high school students over 700 miles, on a bus in the dead of winter, but is quick to add that it is one of her favorite things she is involved in as a teacher at Montini. "I have the privilege of seeing our students grow in their conviction for the pro-life movement," she says. "I see them grow in understanding of its importance, and I see them form a community amongst themselves of strong student leaders." She believes it is very important for students to learn to define their beliefs and then learn how to peacefully and respectfully stand up for those beliefs. "This trip is a perfect way for them to do that. and each student is so inspiring to me. I consider myself blessed to know them and learn from them."
"Our prayers were with all of our students and teachers representing Montini Catholic at the March for Life," said President Segredo. "I think every year I speak for the entire Montini Catholic community when I say that their actions of standing up for the unborn, are truly an inspiration to us all."
2019 March for Life Attendees:
Nicholas Alandy, Lombard
Victoria Nicole Badillo, Downers Grove
Ashley Baka, Naperville
Lauren Bartosz, Woodridge
Kathleen Bukovsky, Downers Grove
Hailey Cabon, Glendale Heights
Lucas Cabon, Glendale Heights
Liam Casey, Villa Park
Devin Chiaramonti, Lombard
Emma Ciaccio, Lombard
Lucy D'Anca, Wheaton
Raquel Dorado, Villa Park
Stefanny Escareno, Bolingbrook
Angelina Greico, Addison
Jack Hemmersmeier, Elmhurst
Maria Hemmersmeier, Elmhurst
Jimmy Hubeny, Westmont
Ryan Hubeny, Westmont
Ryan Julian, Westchester
Megan Kosmach, Bolingbrook
Megan Laughlin, Naperville
Chase Lichter, Villa Park
Cillian O'Flaherty, Downers Grove
Grania O'Flaherty, Downers Grove
Enya O'Flaherty, Downers Grove
Abby Petersen, Downers Grove
Hannah Ruddy, Downers Grove
Christina Schieman, Plainfield
Francesca Size, Elmhurst
Aakash Srinivasulu, Bolingbrook
Sarah Stevenson, Glen Ellyn
Elaine Stribley, Woodridge
Josh Ulisano, Downers Grove
Alexa Urban, Westchester
Lianna Vego, Lombard
Madeline Zick, Naperville