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Seminarians and Students Joyfully March for Life

Katherine Stohlman

Seminarian group photo at March for Life

Mount St. Mary’s Seminary resumed its tradition of canceling all classes for the day of the 49th annual March for Life last week and attending together as a community. “We are all certainly excited to be able to march this year. Last year, we were unable to have a formal March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So…the Seminary is striving to be a real witness to the Gospel as a sign of joyful unity during the March this year,” said Joey Wolfensberger, seminarian and head of the Life and Justice Committee that organizes Seminary presence at the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

mount-march-for-life-2022-3-in-text.jpgWhile several carloads of university students traveled to the March together, the Center for Campus Ministry’s plan to sponsor a charter bus to transport students had to be canceled at the last moment due to the recent Omicron surge. An outbreak caused by the trip would have potentially taxed university supports for students in isolation.

Students were encouraged to participate in Adoration at the National Shrine Grotto on January 21 between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.—the hours of the March for Life—and to pray the Novena for Life provided by Campus Ministry. Additionally, the 23rd annual Cardinal O’Connor Conference, featuring keynote speaker Bishop Robert Barron, was livestreamed on January 22 in Laughlin Auditorium, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. The pro-life conference is typically held at Georgetown University but was made entirely virtual this year amid the recent COVID-19 surge.

seminary-march-for-life-2022-in-text.jpgThe seminary group’s experience also differed from the past. Typically, they would spend an hour in prayer at the St. John Paul II Shrine’s Adoration vigil the night before the March for Life and celebrate Mass in Washington immediately after the March. Both events were canceled in the hopes of stopping the spread of the virus. Instead, the seminarians held morning Mass at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception before leaving campus for the March. Morale was high, and the seminarians gladly represented the Mount after only being able to “march” virtually in 2021.

The National Shrine Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes welcomed a handful of March for Life pilgrim groups last week. Traditionally, the Grotto sees many campus ministries, parish organizations, and similar groups around the March for Life. While large-scale group visits have slowed or been put mount-march-for-life-2022-in-text-2.jpgon hold since COVID-19 shutdowns in 2020, a group of North Dakota high schoolers visited, en route to Washington, and two special Masses were held by pilgrims on the Saturday after the March.

The pandemic-related cautions and cancellations have an unexpected upside. More people than ever may join in, as more and more events are livestreamed. Indeed, this year’s March for Life was both open to the public physically and livestreamed for anyone who was ill or unable to attend in person. Students and seminarians remain eager to participate in whatever ways they safely can.


Katherine Stohlman