For more than 300 excited young people and adults, the pilgrimage to the nation’s capital began on or about Jan. 17 via dozens of chartered motor coaches. Once there, they became part of the estimated 300,000 voices raised to support life at the 44th annual March for Life on Jan. 19.
“What an incredible witness for life!” declared Kyle Holtgrave, diocesan director of the Office for Youth and Young Adult Ministry in a pre-march letter to parishes.
At least 15 different groups and 35 parishes were represented in the groups he coordinated according to Holtgrave. In addition, many other parishes and organizations coordinated travel from throughout the diocese. Knowing that some are not accounted for, an “unofficial” listing includes:
- Father McGivney Catholic High School
- Tri-Parish Youth Ministry (St. Maurice, St. Raymond and St. Mary, Montgomery and Christian counties)
- St. Patrick, Pana
- Blessed Sacrament, Springfield
- Christ the King, Springfield
- St. Agnes, Springfield
- Knox County Right to Life
- St. Aloysius, Springfield
- St. John Vianney, Sherman
- Diocesan curia, including Bishop Thomas John Paprocki
- Trail Life USA, (predominantly St. Mary Parish, Pittsfield)
- Routt Catholic High School
- Tri-Parish Youth Ministry (St. John the Evangelist, All Saints and St. Michael – Greene County)
- St. Cecilia, Glen Carbon
- St. Jude, Rochester
At least four other buses of pilgrims traveled to Washington from Maryville, Vandalia, Mt. Zion, Shelbyville, Teutopolis and Effingham, where local Knights of Columbus members helped send off 54 pilgrims from St. Anthony High School to the March for Life.
On Jan. 19, the day of the march, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki celebrated Mass for the Springfield diocesan delegation at St. Peter Church in downtown Washington.
Smaller groups and individuals visited points of interest in an around Washington before and after the March for Life including the Life Is Very Good event hosted by the Diocese of Arlington which featured a youth rally at George Mason University with music and keynote addresses and holy hour. Activities also included meetings with members of Congress. For example, Trail Life Troop IL 15, Barry, visited with the staff of Rep. Darin LaHood, who, as troop leader Mark Welch said, has been a “consistent supporter of life from conception to natural death.”
“It was great to have the vice president and president to address the march,” said Becky Bauerle, of Mother of Dolors Parish in Vandalia. “It seems like our voices are being heard.”
Bauerle and Jana Schulenburg of St. Augustine Parish in Ashland arranged the southern region of the diocese pilgrimages that included Granite City (St. Elizabeth/Holy Family), Jerseyville (Holy Ghost, St. Francis and several smaller parishes in the area), Mattoon (Immaculate Conception), Mt. Zion (Holy Spirit), Moweaqua (St. Francis de Sales), Nokomis (St. Louis), Pierron (Immaculate Conception), Shumway (St. Mary), and the Teutopolis area — St. Francis, St. Isidore, St. Rose, and St. Thomas (Newton), Maryville (Mother of Perpetual Help), Collinsville (Ss. Peter and Paul), and Vandalia (Mother of Dolors). Even a small group from Holy Cross Parish in Champaign joined the group.
For Bauerle, it was her 28th march. Schulenburg said two seminarians, Michael Trummer of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Neoga and Travis Crotty of the Diocese of Sioux City joined their group along with Father Brian Alford, pastor of St. Jude Parish in Rochester and Father Daren Zehnle, pastor of St. Augustine Parish.
“I have been doing this pilgrimage for many, many years now,” said Schulenburg. “ ... first as the associate director of Youth Ministry for the diocese, and now, because I cannot step away from the fight to save those who cannot speak.”