Becky Bauerle, youth minister for Mother of Perpetual Help Parish in Maryville, has been accompanying young people to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., for nearly three decades, but this year’s trip really stands out, she said.
“This was my 29th year to go and I’m sure this year’s march was the largest march in history. It was huge,” Bauerle said. “Even the atmosphere was different. I talked to the vendors who were there, because they have a good idea about the crowds. They said this was an extra-large march and they thought there were more pro-life marchers than had been at the (protest) marches earlier in the month. And they said we were a lot nicer group.”
Bauerle took 210 pilgrims in four buses to the nation’s capital and her group included three priests: Father Brian Alford, Father Steve Arisman and Father Daren Zehnle. Other priests attended the march with several other diocesan contingents. “I know Father Chris Comerford was there and Father Mike Rosa. We figured there were 20 different parishes that were represented on our buses. In all, there were about 19 or 20 buses from the Springfield diocese,” she said. “It’s remarkable that we had so many people from our 28 counties.”
Bauerle was thrilled that Vice President Mike Pence addressed the crowd and was also pleased that the March for Life was covered by the general media. “President
(Donald) Trump called on the media to be there and you know, they were,” she said. “It was first time that I had seen CNN and ABC there. The major newscasters were there and it was wonderful to see that.”
Vocations were well represented at the Vigil Mass for the March for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, with Cardinal Timothy Dolan as its main celebrant. “The kids couldn’t believe how many seminarians processed in,” Bauerle said. “It is good for them to see so many men are looking at the priesthood. And they liked seeing that there were so many religious sisters there, too.”
The youth from the Springfield diocese attended Mass again the next day, this time at St. Peter’s Church. “Of course, it was also great to see so many people at the Mass celebrated by Bishop (Thomas John) Paprocki on Jan. 27, prior to the march. The church was packed.”
Summing up the trip, Bauerle said, “It was just all-in-all, a beautiful day. I think that in general, this year’s March for Life gave us a real sense of hope. We left Washington, D.C., knowing that this issue is being shown to others. But still, every year I come back and ask, ‘Lord, where are you going to lead me this year?’ You know, it’s not just about going out once a year. This is something we have to work at all year long.”