“More than 240 years ago, our founders wrote words that have echoed through the ages. They declared these truths to be self-evident that we are all endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” emphasized Vice President Mike Pence in his speech at the 2017 March for Life in Washington, D.C.
Under a clear blue January sky, Pence spoke passionately about his faith and moral conscience which leads him to defend life. It was not the first time Pence had addressed the group, but his address marked the highest-ranking U.S. official to speak to the group in person. Cheers reverberated off the Washington Monument when Pence declared, “Life is winning again in America.”
Squeezed into the front section of the National Mall, a group of high school youth and adults from Our Lady of Greenwood Catholic Church stood in the crux of the crowd. The group of 50 had traveled overnight in a chartered bus for the January 27 event. Freshman Gretchen Guerrettaz said the anticipation on the bus heading to D.C. ramped up with every mile driven.
For the group, the March of Life experience began the night before the event with a tour and Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Guerrattaz remarked how the promotion and celebration of life lovingly and prayerfully enveloped the group within the Shrine. “It was my first time ever going to a Mass in the Basilica. To see so many people overflowing into the Mass, knowing we were all there for the cause of speaking out against abortion and worshipping under the same God, was cool.”
The Rally and March
The awe and amazement of the previous night rose to a new height the following day. At the Basilica the previous night, the group learned Indiana’s own Mike Pence would be one of the speakers for the rally. As the Hoosiers worked their way through D.C., the group marveled at the size of the crowd heading to the day’s festivities. “It was wall-to-wall people. To cross each street took at least 15 minutes. It was marvelous!” said sophomore Nick Green . “I was inspired to see how many people were there hours before the events started.”
Others in the group like youth minister Patty Schnarr were inspired to see the media. “I did not know it was being broadcast nationally until we saw all the media trucks. I have been to previous March for Life campaigns with our youth, and the national television stations never broadcast our events. I thought it was about time. It meant that the nation would finally know that we are willing to stand for our beliefs. Father Mike has often said he thinks those who are pro-life are a silent majority. Maybe now, those who also have the same beliefs will not be silent anymore.”
Highlighting the rally, Father Mike stated the most meaningful part of the rally for him came in three statements made by Vice President Pence: “Life is winning again in America,” and “Let this movement be known for love, not anger. Let this movement be known for compassion, not confrontation.”
Father Mike continued saying, “Our group was happy to be there because [the 2017 March for Life] was indeed historic. We have never had a speaker so high up in the political realm. It was a true honor to listen to Vice President Pence speak. We highly connected with the vice president, not only because he is from Indiana, but because of his passion of the pro-life cause as well. We felt exactly what Pence related to in his speech – a high sense or spirit of life there, a spirit of love there and a spirit of faith there.”
Signs saying phrases such as, “I am the Pro-Life Generation,” “Thank your mom for being pro-life,” and “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14a)” bobbed up and down throughout the March, which started at the National Mall and ended at the Capitol Building. “I was super impressed when we walked up Capitol Hill,” said Guerrattaz. “I turned around, and all I could see was a sea of people walking together, showing their unity.”
Schnarr said after a full year of planning, they were happy to be able to attend this year’s March for Life. “The youth gained a better sense of what God desires from them in this life. As an example, in our reflection time heading home, one youth said when he was marching up Capitol Hill, he wondered if Jesus felt as happy going to Calvary to save the world as he felt marching to save the world’s babies.”
The 2017 March festivities had indeed been a special event for the group from Our Lady. It was not because of the firsts (e.g., media or the vice president speaking in person) nor was it the size of the crowd or the Basilica that truly made the trip special. However, by attending, the group gained a stronger understanding of the agape love talked about in the Scriptures.