Guest post by EC English teacher and March for Life chaperone, Miss Maria Mellis. Thank you to all the chaperones who made this experience possible for our students!
Forty-six years since the devastation of Roe vs. Wade and sixty million deaths later, fifty Mountaineers joined an estimated quarter million protestors in the nation’s capital to stand up for the unborn.
The pilgrimage began on Wednesday, January 16, with a bus blessing and an all-night journey. Students learned about the scientifically-provable humanity of the unborn, the destructive effects of abortion on parents and babies alike, and practical ways to support the cause for life. After a rosary for life and a good night’s “sleep” on the bus, everyone awoke to a chilly DC morning. The group explored the nation’s monuments, including the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the White House, all from the icy distance of a government shutdown.
On Thursday evening, students joined fellow RC school students from Atlanta, Georgia’s Pinecrest Academy for an evening Mass, and Fr. Brian preached powerfully about our need to recognize and abandon tendencies of indifference in regards to all human life, be they the unborn, our peers, or the poor. He identified three modes of indifference: to not notice, to notice and not care, and finally, to both notice and care, but to take no action. The challenge to each of the participants was to choose caring and action over indifference in every relationship in our lives, including and extending beyond the unborn. After spending the night in the gym at the Catholic University of America, Friday morning greeted students with an opportunity to put their faith into action.
The March for Life Friday kicked off with a youth rally and Mass at Capitol One Arena with thousands of like-minded young people from all over the country. Featured speakers at the National Mall then included Ben Shapiro, Vice-President and Second Lady Pence, and a video from President Trump, affirming his commitment to protecting all unborn life. Students concluded the event by marching to the Supreme Court over the course of the next two hours, experiencing an atmosphere full of love, hope, and solidarity in the midst of the tragic reality of so many lives lost. The group also enjoyed meeting up with Fr. Daniel Pajerski, LC, now serving in Washington, DC.
Finally, the day wrapped up with a long drive home, enriched by the students’ testimonies. Emcee Mike “Jazzy” Jones led a powerful time of sharing amongst the students as they reflected on their experiences and motivations behind the trip. Many of the students acknowledged how they were strengthened in their beliefs, particularly through the witness of their peers, and even the bus driver commented on how the faith of the EC students had impacted him. Junior Molly Milosch shared that the sense of solidarity created an instant bond amongst strangers, “We were all very comfortable around each other… I met the most random people, and we just became very personable with each other… we could bond over that and see a different side of people that they don’t usually show at school.”
Chaperones and students alike noticed how well the teens responded to the sacrificial demands of the trip, recognizing that prayerful sacrifice was the greatest contribution we could give. Senior Rodrigo De Nigris reaffirmed this sense in his reflections on the trip. He commented particularly on how well everyone dealt with the cold weather and overall exhaustion: “I enjoyed seeing all the positivity from everyone throughout the trip, no matter the conditions we were in.”
As the winter persists and the fight for life continues, we are challenged and inspired to keep fresh in our hearts the call to abandon indifference: to notice, to care, and to sacrifice for the smallest among us, even when uncomfortable or inconvenient.