Pro Life Students Attend "Empowering" March for Life in Washington D.C.
Posted 01/25/2018 02:18PM
On Wednesday, January 17th, a group of passionate young Montini Catholic students began their annual pilgrimage to take part in the world's largest pro-life event, the March for Life in Washington D.C. The group of young activists joined hundreds of thousands as they remembered the more than 58 million Americans who have been lost to abortion. The March was held on Friday, January 19, 2018 with the theme, 'Love Saves Lives.' ("Choosing life is not always easy, but it is the loving, empowering, and self-sacrificial option." - Marchforlife.org)
The historic march, in its 45th 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. According to their website, the Fund announced, "Our job is not done until the voiceless have a voice that is heard."
Twenty-six Montini students, accompanied by teachers, Mr. Denis Block and Ms. Katie Wall braved the cold when they left for our nation's capital on the evening of the 17th and traveled through the night to arrive at their destination. The 15-hour journey was made with hundreds of fellow students from the Diocese of Joliet and included a Mass for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Thursday, January 18th.
Theology teacher and Montini's Pro-Life Club advisor, Katie Wall, who coordinated this year's pilgrimage, has currently attended four Marches for Life. (Three with Montini students, and one as a high school student at Rosary High School, in Aurora.). "I was the Vice President of my Pro-Life Club at Rosary and have been active in the pro-life movement ever since. Ms. Wall also finds it rewarding to volunteer at pregnancy crisis centers and encouraged her students to participate in Cupcakes for Life/National Pro-Life Cupcake Day earlier in the school year to benefit Waterleaf Women's Center in Aurora. (The center offers an array of medical and professional services to young women - at no charge, seeking an alternative to abortion.)
"I love attending the March for Life," she added. "What struck me so much this year was the immense amount of peace, love, and respect that is at the center of this movement. From this year's motto of 'love saves lives' to the comments of every speaker, love and acceptance were at the heart of everything. The pro-life movement and the March for Life are strong and full of passion, but also filled with compassion and love." It is because of these aspects that Wall holds firm on supporting the cause and sees it as a positive experience for her students to be a part of.
The group rose at the crack of dawn on Friday in order to participate fully in the day's events which began with a Youth Rally prior to the march to the Capitol Building. Wall admits that there can be hectic elements of taking a group of almost 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."
"Going on this trip for the second year in a row was truly a blessing," said junior Marissa VanDeVeer, who is also the President of Montini's Pro-Life Club. "Everything about it was amazing. All of the speakers at the rally had stories that made my belief in pro-life even stronger." Marissa was particularly inspired by speaker, Pam Tebow, mother of NFL player Tim Tebow. "She was told when she was pregnant that her baby would have many physical defects, and that she would die during pregnancy unless she aborted him," she said. "But, she decided to pray to God and ask for his guidance and she had a successful and healthy pregnancy. She also pointed out that he obviously doesn't have any physical defects, since he is a very large NFL football player. This really inspired me. Even though every doctors' first thought was to recommend abortion, she stuck with her faith. This proves that through faith we can get through anything."
"Also, President Trump and Vice President Pence both spoke from the Rose Garden at the White House," said Marissa. "This was cool to see because he is the first president to address the March for Life, and he had a very positive outlook on the future." (Coincidentally, President Trump is the 45th President - addressing the 45th March for Life.)
"When you are surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people who have the same views and thoughts as you it is really empowering. This made me really happy to be standing up for a cause that I firmly believe in." Marissa plans to attend next year's rally as a Montini senior, but prays that someday the march will be unnecessary. "Hopefully soon abortion will be illegal and we won't have the need to march."
Sophomore, Angelina Greico, is also no stranger to standing up for her Catholic beliefs. This March marked her fifth, which is quite impressive for a young teen. "I've gone to three in Chicago and this was my second one in Washington, D.C.," she informed. "I found this trip as a learning opportunity to understand more about my pro-life beliefs. After hearing all the great speakers and their stories, I was definitely inspired to pass on the message and my beliefs."
Angelina added, "It was amazing to see how many people were present this year. It seems like the crowd gets bigger and bigger each year, especially with the younger generation, with so many kids around my age. This year, it took so much time to move just a few steps, which is crazy! The best part is that we're surrounded by a loving, welcoming, and open community that is passionate about their beliefs."
Angelina's older sister, Montini alumna, Carina '15, was also attending the rally with Loyola Students for Life. Because of the heavy crowds, however, the sisters were only able to meet up for a few quick minutes after the march. "I am so glad that I was able to take part in such an amazing and inspiring opportunity. I look forward to participating in future marches and I hope the crowd will be even bigger next year!"
"I truly had an amazing time marching with all my friends and fellow pro-lifers again this year," said senior Angelica Mendoza who experienced her third and last march as a Montini student this year. "One story that really had an impact on me was told by Sister Bethany about a friend of hers, Raquel. Pregnant at the time, Raquel was on her way to her doctor appointment. She got into an elevator with another pregnant woman who was extremely scared was planning to abort her child. Raquel comforted the woman, and said that she would not let her abort the baby. She told her that she would have the baby and name her Raquel Jasmine, and accompanied her to the doctor's office to make an appointment for her."
"She never heard from the women after that day, until she had gone back to same office two years later. She saw the woman - who ran up, hugged and thanked Raquel. After their encounter, the woman had decided to not have an abortion, and actually gave birth to two healthy baby girls. She introduced them to Raquel, and had named one Raquel and the other, Jasmine!"
"This story goes to show how powerful our words are, and how they can influence and change a person's decision," said Angelica. "It is our responsibility to speak up for those who cannot and continue to fight against abortion."
After the historic rally, the Montini students enjoyed a day of sightseeing on Saturday, visiting the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum as well as the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial. The rewarding weekend ended with a Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral and a second long bus ride home.
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 18 years.
"Our prayers were with all of our students and teachers representing Montini Catholic on January 19th," said President Segredo. "I think I speak for the entire Montini Catholic community when I say that they are truly an inspiration to us all."