March for Life pilgrim blog: The eve of the March

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Sydney pilgrims explore Washington before the crowds arrive for the 2020 March for Life. PHOTO: Facebook/Life, Family & Outreach Office

A group of young Sydney pilgrims led by Bishop Richard Umbers travelled to Mexico and the US for a 15-day pilgrimage culminating in the March for Life in Washington on 24 January. This is the fourth in their blog series sharing their ‘life-changing’ journey.

By Peter O’Donovan

Between visiting historical monuments, sampling as much junk food as possible, and witnessing strangers approach Bishop Umbers on the street asking for a photo with the ‘Meme Bishop’, it was clear we weren’t in Mexico City anymore!

The eve of the 2020 March for Life meant an opportunity to explore the sites of Washington DC, a city which is no stranger to battles for the protection and defence of civil rights.

As we visited the Memorials of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr, and the Korean conflict to name a few, we were already running into hundreds of other pro-life marchers. Some were carrying signs, some had travelled more than 24 hours by bus to be there, but they were all visibly pumped up for the defence of the defenceless.

The anticipation and excitement for the March steadily grew throughout the day but there was a noticeable jump during our tour of the St John Paul II National Shrine.

St John Paul II’s passion for realising that every human life is a sacred gift from God was a great source of inspiration for the group.

His whole life was a testimony to the inherent dignity and value of every human being regardless of race, gender, utility (or size!).

And just when we thought the anticipation couldn’t get any bigger, we arrived at the Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Even though we were over an hour early to the Vigil, the Basilica was standing room only. Thousands of young people from all over the US piled into the massive Basilica and joined together for Mass and prayer.

In his homily, Archbishop Joseph Naumann spoke about the need for a greater effort to be made to oppose abortion, describing abortion as the “preeminent” issue for Catholics.

An unexpected highlight of the day was running into three Australian missionaries currently serving with the Emmanuel School of Mission. It’s comforting to know that no matter how far we travel, we aren’t far from Aussies.

BIG DAY! But no time to think more about it – tomorrow is the 2020 March for Life.

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