In place of cancelled trip to D.C., the Notre Dame Right to Life Club led a March for Life right at home
Friday, January 22 marked the 42nd March for Life in Washington, D.C., the largest pro-life demonstration in the world. Since 1974, hundreds of thousands of pro-life demonstrators have travelled to our nation’s capital, each year to march on Capitol Hill in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion-on-demand in the United States.
The March for Life began in its early years with just a few thousand participants, but it has since grown to include over half a million marchers annually, drawing supporters from all across the country.
The Notre Dame Right to Life Club, which sends hundreds of Notre Dame, St. Mary’s, and Holy Cross students to the March each year, was set to send a record number of over 800 students to the March this year until severe weather conditions necessitated a cancellation of the trip.
“The March for Life team followed the weather the whole week leading up to the March,” said Will Harris, a Notre Dame senior and coordinator of Notre Dame Right to Life’s 2016 trip to the March. Just as the trip from campus was about to be made, one of the largest storms on record in D.C. yielded 12-36 inches of snow across the whole region.
Notre Dame Right to Life, as well as the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese, was forced to cancel their trip to the March for the safety of participants.
“At first, we thought about going, but then having everyone come back right after the March for Life ended,” Harris told the Rover. “Unfortunately though, it became clear that the conditions would prevent us from traveling and could be extremely dangerous, and we decided that it was in the best interest of the over-800 students to cancel the trip.”
The sudden cancellation of the trip to Washington did not deter the Right to Life Club from marching for life, however. “In general, there was a clear disappointment from all slated to go to D.C.,” Harris said. “But that disappointment turned around to become fuel for the observance we had on campus.”
In place of the group’s scheduled trip, the Notre Dame Right to Life team coordinated a number of events on campus, including a Mass for Life in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and a march around campus in solidarity with those marching in D.C. and all those defending life around the world.
The Right to Life coordinators had to act quickly in order to organize the campus march on such short notice. “We met with members of Campus Ministry and the Student Activities Office to discuss possible alternatives,” Harris said. “We did exactly what we would have done in D.C., but on campus instead.”
After the Mass for Life and the on-campus march, the day’s events concluded with a prayer service in front of Main Building, followed by a visit to the Grotto.
Harris, a longtime member of Notre Dame Right to Life, noted the club’s dual mission of education and service as a key to its approach to the pro-life movement. “I personally became involved with Notre Dame Right to Life because the pro-life causes were important to me, and I saw a lot of good in the work that the club was doing,” he said.
“Notre Dame Right to Life seeks its end through prayer, service, and education,” Harris continued. “It is important that Notre Dame students get involved in the club so that they too can first learn what it means to be truly pro-life, and then put that to action through prayer and service.”
In the end, Harris saw the campus march as a success, noting its ease and accessibility for the campus community, as well as the strong message delivered. “I was very disappointed that we weren’t able to make it to D.C., but I think God was calling us to do something right at home. Marching at Notre Dame gave many, even those who would not have been able to go to D.C., the opportunity to pray and reflect on what it means to be truly pro-life … By saying that I am pro-life, I am committing myself to a radical way of loving each and every man and woman no matter what because of their God-given human dignity,” he concluded.
Michael Infantine is a senior PLS major and Theology minor. In his spare time, he enjoys hula-hooping and playing hopscotch…at the same time. You can contact him at email@example.com.