The snow started earlier than expected, falling on the marchers as they made their way down Constitution Avenue toward the U.S. Supreme Court Building. Most of the South Jerseyans who had planned to travel to the March for Life had been forced to cancel their trips because of the blizzard that was headed for the Mid-Atlantic; the only reason I was able to get there was because I was scheduled to attend a conference in Washington through the weekend that the organizers said would be on no matter what.
Three of the other conference attendees and I took the Metro from our hotel down to the March, which we intercepted about halfway into the route. We watched the groups go by from the sidewalk — mostly carrying Catholic signs and banners. More than half the demonstrators were Millennials. A large group from Miami, insufficiently dressed for the weather, asked me to take their picture.
I saw an old friend of mine from our college marching band walking by. He’s a Dominican friar now, and it’s still surprising to see him in a black habit instead of in a T-shirt and shorts carrying crash cymbals. But he is still the same guy, so full of joy and energy. I hadn’t seen him since last year’s March, so I ran up beside him and we chatted for half a block. “See you here next year, if not before,” I said, and headed back to my colleagues. We fell in at the tail end of the mass of people and marched for a while before peeling off near a Metro station.
Several of the charter buses carrying students home to the Midwest after the March got stuck for upwards of 30 hours on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Photos quickly surfaced on social media. One of the groups built an altar out of snow, and a priest traveling with them celebrated Mass outside. It’s exactly that sort of faith in the face of great challenges that defines the March for Life.
“Will the snow stop the pro-life movement?” a marcher with a megaphone had asked. “No!” we replied. No, indeed.
Mike Jordan Laskey is director of Life & Justice Ministries, Diocese of Camden.