On January 22, 1973, our nation experienced a great tragedy – the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton U.S. Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. This year marks the 39th anniversary of these decisions, leaving in its wake over 55 million unborn babies aborted and countless women and men wounded. Since 1974, pro-life people of all faiths have been assembling in Washington, D.C., with the hope of overturning this unjust law, speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves. In 2012, the Archdiocese of Chicago’s group and over 200,000 others will March for Life, down Constitution Avenue past the U.S. Capitol and ending at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. This year, the Archdiocesan Respect Life Office is sending a record number of people to the March for Life, with over 450 youth, young adults and adults making this pilgrimage. What a blessing!
At the March for Life, there are people representing many Christian denominations, age groups, and races, and they march with smiles on their faces, because they know that they are on the side of truth. There is a sense of hope in the air that, very soon, this holocaust will end. The youth are a big factor, coming out in droves to fight for this important cause. When a person attends for the first time, he or she is often shocked by the amount of joy that is felt in the crowd, and this is predominately seen in the youth.
The 2012 pilgrimage starts on Friday, the 20th, in Chicago with a kick-off Mass at St. Lawrence O’Toole in Matteson celebrated by Bishop Joseph Perry, Auxiliary Bishop of Vicariate VI. Then all the pilgrims embark on this exciting, yet challenging, 4-day journey. They arrive in Washington, D.C., on Saturday morning, and go directly to the local Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. They go to pray for conversions of heart, both for those who work at the clinic and for those women and men who enter that clinic seeking abortions. Later that evening, there is a reconciliation service and a private Mass celebrated by Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I, Archbishop of Chicago. After Mass, the Cardinal holds a lively Question & Answer session with the pilgrims. On Sunday, the college students attend a special full-day pro-life conference that is organized by Students for Life of America while the other youth, chaperones, and other adult participants attend the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception for a pro-life Mass. On Monday, the entire group of Chicago pilgrims attends a special youth rally and Mass at the Verizon Center. Immediately after Mass, they walk to the site of the March for Life Rally and then join the march alongside hundreds of thousands of others from across the country.
The Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to the March for Life is more than just marching. It is about strengthening relationships with the Lord. It is about conversion. It is about discerning vocation. It is about reconciliation. It is about building friendships. It is about speaking out for those children in the womb who cannot speak for themselves.