By train or bus came the South Jersey pilgrims — parish and school communities, youth groups, seminarians, priests, religious — to Washington, D.C. on the Friday of Jan. 24, to take a spirited stand for life.
The 47th March for Life Rally, to protest the 1973 Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion, joined hundreds from the diocese with thousands from across the nation.
The day began in D.C. for the pro-life supporters with a late-morning rally on the National Mall, led by impassioned speakers rousing the crowd.
After the rally, the crowd made its way up Constitution Avenue, by sidewalk or street, with banners, signs, and prayerful hymns and songs. Joyful, yet peaceful.
As he has done in years past, Bishop Dennis Sullivan was waiting for South Jersey’s faithful on the corner of New Jersey and Constitution avenues, ready to greet them and say thank you for their witness.
“To see these diocesan individuals with the same hopes and dreams for life come together with thousands of others … it was a joyful day,” said Matthew Davis, the diocesan Director of Life and Justice who stood with Bishop as he received handshakes, hugs and posed for selfies with his flock.
Included in the photos with Bishop were 15 high school students and their chaperones from Saint Joseph, who left their Hammonton campus at 6:30 a.m. and picked up students from Gloucester Catholic High School along the way to D.C.
The march showed “how people can come together in support for life- every life is important, every life is special,” said Saint Joseph senior and participant Aracelis Perez.
Her classmate, Logan Rutt, described the day as “speaking up for those who can’t speak up for themselves.”
“The students were here because they believed in the cause,” said Father Allain Caparas, Saint Joseph president and principal.
Noting that the school had a day off on the 24th, he was proud of the students for “making the sacrifice to stand up for life.”
Seeing Bishop Sullivan near the end of the pilgrimage “meant a lot” to them, Father Caparas said.
From further up the turnpike, Camden Diocese’s seminarians from Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., and their classmates joined the masses, including Carlo Santa Teresa.
“This year’s march is absolutely moving, seeing how it has grown over the years,” he said. He noted that “the tide is turning,” and expressed his pleasure with seeing youth who “provide a spark and a glimpse of hope” in their enthusiasm to proclaim the importance of life.