At the end of January, 45 students from Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School will participate in March for Life, the annual march at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., that supports the right to life.
This is the fourth year students from Stritch have participated in the march. Sophomores, juniors and seniors who participate in Teens for Life at Stritch are eligible to make the Jan. 21 – 23 trip to the nation’s capital, and each year the number of students who want to attend the event has increased.
The trip has become so successful, there is currently a waiting list since there is limited seating available for the trip.
“Students gain a greater appreciation for life at the event,” said Clare Smith, the director if ministry and service at Stritch. “We are there with more than 100,000 other people who are all standing up for the same thing and it is a very powerful experience for the students. They are just in awe.”
During the march, students not only get the chance to stand up for what they believe in, they also see how many others have the same belief they have, no matter what their background is. During the march, people of all ages and backgrounds take part in March for Life.
“The experience itself is just something that changes them and they want to be a part of it year after year and have that experience to take with them,” said Smith. “There have been a couple of kids who have graduated and wished they would have been able to go one more time because the first time they went, they were just so in awe that they missed things. So if they would have had the opportunity to go a second year or third year, there are other things they would have paid attention to.”
In addition to the march, students will also participate in other events as well.
The night before March for Life, students will attend a concert at the Patriot Center on the campus of George Washington University. Hosted by the Archdiocese of Arlington, the event will have upwards of 10,000 in attendance and live music by the Matt Maher Band.
Students follow up the event by going to Mass the next morning to remind themselves of why they are there: to support life. The mass is officiated by a number of priests and bishops who also attend the march, including Rev. Eric Schild, the president of Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School & Academy.
“It’s a powerful thing for our students to see that there are Catholics all over our country who are all doing the same thing and believe in the same thing,” said Smith.
Students will also have a chance to see some of the national monuments. A must-see on each trip so far has been the statue of St. Kateri – the saint St. Kateri Catholic Schools is named after – at the National Cathedral.
While the sight-seeing and mass crowds can sometimes be overwhelming for the students, the main thing Smith observes during the trip is how much fulfillment the students receive during the three-day trip.
“There has been, for some, a personal conversion to have a deeper faith and take that connection more seriously at their local church,” said Smith. “They might be going to mass with their parents and things like that, but to actually see other kids there that are the same age and doing the same thing they are, that is a power experience.”