'Life wins': Marians join thousands at the annual March for Life

The March for Life ended in front of the Supreme Court building, just up the hill from the Capitol. A tiny group of pro-choice protesters yelled obscenities at us, but a crowd of pro-lifers unfurled a large flag. On it were the words: “Life Wins.”

By Novice Josh

Choruses of young people chanted to one another across the streets of Washington D.C., “One, two, three, four, Roe v. Wade is out the door! Five, six, seven, eight, now it’s time to legislate!” 

Tens of thousands of people streamed along the streets of our nation’s capital for the 50th March for Life on Jan. 20, praying Rosaries and chaplets, happily chatting with one another or singing. Girls’ choirs sang hymns with beautiful melodies.

We Marians marched as a group, while some of us carried our banner, which featured a cropped image of Jesus the Divine Mercy and the slogan, “Choose Mercy, Choose Life.” A marching band of young men with bright red uniforms and banners marched right behind us, trumpets blazing.  

A strong Marian presence at this year's March for Life!

New era of hope
The first sign I saw at this year’s March was in the hands of a blonde-haired boy, perhaps four years old, who was sitting on his dad’s shoulders. His sign read, “I am the Post-Roe Generation.” 

This was new. The signs at prior Marches said, “I am the pro-life generation.” 

The child’s sign was a touching witness to a new era of hope.

At previous Marches, I had heard young people chant, “Hey, hey, ho, ho! Roe v. Wade has got to go!” This year, I heard instead, “One, two, three, four! Roe v. Wade is out the door!” 

It was incredible to hear the victorious change in the chant lyrics. This year was the first March for Life since Dobbs v. Jackson, the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on June 24, 2022, which returned decisions about abortion to the states. I felt that I had witnessed history turn a page.  

 

Trust in Jesus
As the March began, we Marians stood on the sidewalk or in the street, handing out thousands of cards with the Divine Mercy image. At the bottom of the image is the simple prayer, “Jesus, I trust in You.” Trust in Jesus has been at the core of the Pro-Life movement ever since its beginning. 

On July 17, 1972, parishioners at a parish in New Orleans observed a pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima weeping. Six months later, the Supreme Court passed down its devastating Roe v. Wade decision. Those who recalled the weeping statue believed that she wept because of the millions of babies who would be killed. 

Over the years, an unexpected fruit of Roe v. Wade is that many Protestants and Catholics have come together in an unprecedented way, trusting in Jesus and fighting for the most basic of all human rights: the right to life. Frequently, non-Christians have also seen the essential nature of this right and have worked alongside us, but, as Christians, we know that only Jesus can bring us final victory in this battle. 

Turned a corner
At this year’s March, I found myself caught up in joy as I saw the endless flood of young people passing by, happy and smiling. 

I seized the chance to talk with some veterans of the March for Life. I asked an elderly man what it meant for him to see the end of Roe v. Wade

He said, “It means a lot . . . We’ve turned a corner, but there’s much left to be done.” 

I noticed an older woman holding a sign saying that she had been there for the first March for Life in 1974. I caught up to her, and she welcomed a conversation. Her name was Sharon. 

“I was 30 at the first March for Life,” Sharon told me. “At that time, I was one of the young crowd, but most people were middle-aged or elderly. The Catholic Church wasn’t directly involved yet, and the March for Life was nowhere near the size it is now.”

I asked, “Did you notice when it started to get big?”

“Oh, sometime around 2000,” she said. “When the Church got involved and schools started sending busloads of kids, that’s when the March for Life really got huge.”

Sharon and Novice Josh.

"It's surreal"
I asked her about her experience participating in the March for Life over the years. She said that when they first started marching, she and many others thought that Roe v. Wade would be overturned within five years. As the years kept passing, though, it became difficult to keep up hope, especially when supposedly conservative politicians reneged on their pre-election promises by voting pro-choice once they were in office. 

“When did you really start hoping again or thinking that Roe v. Wade might be overturned?” I asked her. 

“When Amy Coney Barrett was made a Supreme Court justice,” she answered, her face lighting up. “That was when we knew things would change.”

“How did that feel for you?”

“Oh!!!” she exclaimed with joy in her eyes. She couldn’t put it into words.

“What’s it like for you, now that Dobbs v. Jackson has replaced Roe v. Wade?” I asked. 

“It’s surreal!”

She explained that she had had no confidence that Roe v. Wade would be overturned in her lifetime and that seeing this happen was an incredible blessing. However, like all the other pro-lifers I talked with at the March, she already had her eyes focused intently on what has to happen next: the legislative battle, state to state. 

My fellow novice Michael mentioned something that I felt too. “There’s such a positive energy in the crowd. You can feel the joy and the Holy Spirit.”

All human life is sacred
As in all the previous years, the message at this year’s March for Life remained very positive. Many displays showed a woman with a fetus in her womb, saying, “Love them both.” Young people often chanted, “We love babies, yes we do! We love babies, how about you!!!?” The general mood contrasts sharply with the hatred and curse words one sees on the signs of many counter-protesters. 

A key element to the March is the great value placed on all human life. At the LifeFest event on the morning of the March, a charming girl with Downs’ Syndrome came up on the stage and told the thousands of attendees that she loved her life. Her sister was also there, sharing how much their relationship means to her.

At the March, some women and men held signs announcing that they were “Conceived from Rape,” under which were the words, “I love my life.” 

College-aged and high-school youth filled the streets, vastly outnumbering the elderly and middle-aged adults. There were also families with young children, wisely holding onto one another in human chains to keep from getting separated. A father of about six young boys and girls told me that he wanted to give his young children the experience of putting their values into action. 

Unborn lives matter
A new element in this March for Life was involvement of Black Lives Matter. I first noticed signs saying, “All Lives Matter,” but then I started to notice what the people themselves were saying. 

An elderly African-American woman with several family members stood on the sidewalk with a sign saying, “Unborn Lives Matter.” She happily told me her son made the sign for her. 

Shortly after, I spotted a group of Black Lives Matter members on the sidewalk, watching the pro-lifers streaming by. A young, African-American man in his thirties held up a sign saying, “Believing Black Lives Matter is Pro-Life.” 

My eyes met his, and I gave him a thumbs-up and a smile. He smiled back. 

Turning a page
Brother Stephen Camera, MIC, one of our Marian brothers, told me that when Black Lives Matter had a march in Washington, Planned Parenthood joined in. A black man confronted the Planned Parenthood people, saying, “You believe black lives matter!?” They yelled back, “Yeah, black lives matter!”

He answered, “But black babies, they don’t matter!?” The folks from Planned Parenthood were silent.

The March for Life ended in front of the Supreme Court building, just up the hill from the Capitol. A tiny group of pro-choice protesters yelled obscenities at us, but a crowd of pro-lifers unfurled a large flag. On it were the words: “Life Wins.”

Dobbs v. Jackson returned the decision regarding abortion to the state level, and all the pro-lifers I talked with at the March were focused on the battle that still lies ahead. Yet, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision and the vast number of young people at the March, hope was in the air.

History has turned a page. 

Photos by Novice David.
{shopmercy-ad}

WHWC

You might also like...

"It was our monthly Day of Recollection, so the whole community was in silence," Novice Josh reports. "It was breakfast time."

Serve the Lord joyfully, as St. John Bosco did, as we celebrate his feast day on Jan. 31. God's will for our lives is filled with meaning and adventure.

A high degree of trust is needed for a novice to confide particular difficulties to someone who could end their vocation, Novice Josh discovers.