Andrew Lynch, Staff Writer
In his speech to hundreds of thousands gathered for Mass at World Youth Day in Denver, Colorado, in 1993, Blessed John Paul II challenged the young in the crowd to “offer your youthful energies to building a civilization of Christian love. Be witnesses of God’s love for the innocent and the weak, for the poor and oppressed.”
At Notre Dame, students are blessed with many opportunities to serve the poor, the disabled and the needy. However, one of the great ways that students can help spread a culture of life and bear witness to the love of Christ is participation in the March for Life in Washington, DC.
Now in its 41st year, the March for Life is an annual march held to protest the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that required abortion on demand across the country and thus invalidated the existing laws of every state. Notre Dame’s involvement with the March for Life dates back to 1977, when a handful of students made the long trip to Washington along with members of northern Indiana Right to Life groups. By 1998, Notre Dame’s Right to Life Club was organizing bus trips for over 200 students. Following President Obama’s controversial commencement honoring and address at Notre Dame in spring of 2009, the club saw increased student participation in the March. In 2010, Right to Life took 400 students on 7 buses, and for the first time, Notre Dame’s president, Father John Jenkins, CSC, attended the March with the club.
This past year marked the 40thanniversary of Roe v. Wade and the March for Life. In an incredibly strong witness to the dignity of life, Notre Dame sent over 600 students on 12 buses to the March, as well as over 75 faculty members and many more alumni and friends of the university. In acknowledgement of the club’s efforts and Notre Dame’s renewed focus on life issues, 50 Notre Dame students were given the honor of carrying the official March for Life banner at the front of the March.
Organizing the trip is a huge logistical effort that requires the support of dozens of students, faculty, staff and administrators. Planning begins in earnest over the summer as timelines are developed, to-do lists created and initial contacts are established. When the fall semester begins, the coordination team meets frequently with administrators and staff to arrange for transportation, housing, university approvals and fund-seeking. Once approvals are granted, the advertising committee works hard to create posters and signs that will attract both new and veteran attendees to the March.
Once registration opens, most of the work is completed, while final details are ironed out and a final number is given to the bus companies. The incredible size of last year’s trip made logistics more interesting, however, with the need to order additional buses and find extra lodging space. Through the generosity of Marymount University in Arlington, VA, and the wonderful efforts of Cardinal Buses, we were able to accommodate all registered attendees for last year’s March.
Choosing to attend the March for Life is a decision not without sacrifice. Two 12-hour bus rides in the middle of January are not always the most comfortable of experiences. Many students, however, find that the sacrifice of time and comfort is an excellent opportunity to bear witness to Christ’s sacrificial love, which lies at the heart of a culture of life. While the trip is both protest and pilgrimage, it does offer a great deal of fun, and spending two days in our nation’s capital can be an ideal break from the permacloud-covered landscape of northern Indiana.
This year the March will be held on Wednesday, January 22. As a result of the mid-week date, the trip options this year are different than in past years. A long trip option will begin Monday, January 20 at 7 p.m., and a short option will depart Tuesday, January 21 at 7 p.m. Both trips will leave Washington after the March on Wednesday and return to campus Thursday morning. With the extremely generous support of the Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life, as well as countless Notre Dame alumni, the club has been able to keep the price of the trip at $35 per attendee.
Today is the last day for registration. Please consider joining your friends and fellow students this January in supporting a culture of life and bearing witness to the love of Christ in the world today. To register, go to studentshop.nd.edu, and email NDMarchforLife@gmail.com with any questions.
Andrew Lynch is a graduate student trying not to lose his soul while studying business. You can find him playing basketball on the Baby Ballers basketball team on Thursday nights or email him at email@example.com.