Hundreds of diocesan pilgrims join March for Life in Washington, D.C.

Father Adam J. Keiter poses with some of the pro-life pilgrims by the Smithsonian before the annual March For Life in Washington, D.C.

By Christopher M. Riggs
Bishop Michael O. Jackels told those attending a Mass Thursday, Jan. 21, at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., to stand up for what they believe in despite of the many forces that try to divert their attention.
Their participation at the diocesan Pilgrim’s Mass in the Upper Church of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception was a living example of their belief in the sanctity of life, said Dan Weyant, interim director of the diocesan Respect Life and Social Justice Office. Hundreds of youth and adults attended the Mass with students from Holy Savior Parish, Wichita, proclaiming the readings.
The next day the pilgrims from the Diocese of Wichita participated in a rally and Mass with youth from Oklahoma, Louisiana, Ohio, and Nebraska. Bishop Jackels was the homilist and the Most Rev. George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha, was the celebrant.
At the Verizon Center Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States, read a message to the participants from Pope Benedict XVI, who said their “generosity, idealism and concern inspire youth to raise their voices in defense of the unborn.” He urged them to embrace “a culture of life grounded in the unchanging truth of who we are as God’s children” and to “rise to this urgent moral challenge and witness to the sacredness of God's gift of life.”
When the diocesan pilgrims weren’t at the various March for Life activities, they toured the many places Washington is famous for.
“The weather was good on the day of the March,” Weyant said. “They had forecasted sleet and rain but the Blessed Mother took care of us. It was cloudy, cold, and dry.” He added that the March attendance was estimated at 225,000 to 250,000 from around the US, including many priests, men and women religious.
The 10 buses carrying 487 students and chaperones from the Diocese of Wichita returned Sunday evening, Jan. 24.
“I thought it was remarkable how students seemed to absorb so much of what was going on around them,” Weyant said. “They were always polite and always focused on what they were doing. They actively participated in morning and night prayer every day and gladly volunteered to participate in the liturgies.”
He also added this about the youth, “Something that could almost be described as a miracle occurred throughout the long weekend:
“The youth were at the buses on time!”

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