A Look Back at the March for Life

03-12-2017From the Pastor's DeskRev. Msgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

Last week I received an e-mail from William Cassese, the seminarian who was with us for ten weeks this past May, June, and July, recounting his experience with his fellow seminarians at the March for Life in Washington, D.C. William and his fellow seminarians are studying for the priesthood at the Theological College in Catholic University in Washington, D.C. The media does not give this event much coverage at all because of their pro-abortion bias. They consider those who participate in this Pro life march out of step with current American thought and culture. How wrong they are. I invite you to read William’s comments, the comments of an intelligent young man of faith who was part of the March:

“As you all know, the March for Life was on January 27.The Basilica across the street hosted the National Vigil for Life the evening/night before. I was present at the opening Mass for the Vigil for Life. We seminarians get prime seating -- in the very back of the building where we are squished together like sardines and are dependent on a TV monitor to see. But from what we could see and hear, we could tell that the basilica was filled! And if the reason we seminarians are shepherded to the back of the basilica to sit in sections well out of line of sight of the sanctuary is because the building is so full, thanks be to God! It is such a moving moment in the life of the Church to see so many young people uniting for a common cause -- the inalienable right to life.

This witness continued into the next day, the day of the march. Before the march begins, the Archdiocese of Washington holds numerous youth rallies consisting of praise and worship music, Mass, and Confession. The seminarians are always invited to the main rally at the Verizon Center in downtown DC, but I opted to stay at Theological College for a low-key, yet very prayerful Mass this year. It's always nice to have some quiet prayer before the March for Life.

Now, the march itself was packed! This was my third March for Life, and this was the most crowded I remember seeing it. I arrived with a group of my brother seminarians from Theological College at around 11:30, and we collectively decided that it was too zooey to try to get into the rally. So we basically stood on Constitution Ave. with our Theological College sign, witnessing to the fundamental right to life to anyone who might pass by, most of whom were also witnessing to life (as you might expect) until the march itself began. However, not everyone was a good witness. Our group from Theological College was heckled at least two separate times by a fundamentalist, very anti-Catholic Protestant group who showed up at the march, with the specific intention of spreading their anti-Catholic message, targeted mostly at the priesthood. The first time they heckled us, we were taking a group photo before the march began. Usually, they march up and down the street at that point, but seeing us all in our clerics, they stopped and spewed anti-Catholic hatred at us for about five straight minutes. Some of the things they said to us included, "If you're a Catholic priest, you're going to hell. You're spawns of Satan!" and "You all eat Jesus in the Eucharist. What, would you eat your own grandmother, too?" They said similar things to us the second time they heckled us in another area along the march route. However, both times we just stayed silent and did not pick any arguments. Please keep these people in your prayers, as they are a bit (well, maybe more than a bit) lost in their Christian journey. And pray for us seminarians, too. As much as we tough it out and don't pay any attention to it outwardly, such hateful sentiments do bother us and discourage us inwardly. 

Otherwise, the other thing I remember most about the march was the amount of people. What a great witness! I was looking out for anyone I knew from Long Island, and I saw a lot of scattered Diocese of Rockville Centre signs, but I didn't end up running into the St. Patrick's group or the group from my home parish. As a matter of fact, the march was so jam-packed that another seminarian and I got separated from the Theological College group almost immediately after the march started. It was incredible -- people started closing in around our group so quickly that we lost sight of the rest of our group within about five seconds of starting the march! I imagine that was the kind of feeling the Egyptians experienced when trying to cross the Red Sea as the waters swept over them. (But again, the crowd is a good problem to have at the March for Life. What a great witness! The water for the Egyptians...well, I'm sure they weren't thrilled about that). For those of you that went (and those of you who followed it from elsewhere), I hope you were moved as much as I was by the march.”

This Lent our Parish Project will be to raise money for the work Fr. Shibi’s order in India does for orphans and the homeless. This is a wonderful opportunity to show our concern for the lives of those who are truly in need in our world. There are collection containers at the doors of the church for your donations. If everyone just puts a few dollars in each time you come to church we can raise a substantial amount of money to help them help those in need.

May this Lent be for all of us a time of spiritual growth through our prayers, visits to the Blessed Sacrament, confession of our sins in the Sacrament of Penance, and spiritual reading. The more we enrich our own lives with the presence of Jesus, the more we enrich the lives of all we touch.

Fr. Wald