I once again made the trip to Washington, DC to the annual March for Life. And as with last year, I found myself "embedded" as a photojournalist with a group from the Diocese of Knoxville, mostly from the Chattanooga deanery.
It was not easy. By the time we got to the National Mall, while the air temperature was about 22 degrees, the wind chill brought it down to -2. The good news is that we found ourselves in a march with some 500,000 other pilgrims. Moving along - while singing, dancing, and praying - helped to make the weather a little more tolerable.
It must be pointed out that this is NOT an "anti-abortion" march, although the ultimate goal is to see an end to the practice. Rather, it is a PRO-life demonstration, honoring and celebrating life at all stages in a person's time here on earth.
The Diocese of Arlington hosted a grand Evening of Prayer at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, VA on the night before the march. I knew that Catholic musician was popular with many high school youth I know. Now I know why - he really is extraordinary. He entertained us before and after Eucharistic Adoration.
In addition to the music, two very fine speakers were present: Fr. Agostino Torres, CFR and Mary Bielski.
Fr. Agostino is a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal and doesn't work in the easiest part of town: the South Bronx. He is a very engaging speaker and funny, too - think of a sort of G-rated George Lopez. I am told he is an outstanding sidewalk counselor outside of abortion clinics.
Mary Bielski is an energetic youth minister, who can get herself - and the kids - fired up about their Catholic faith.
The evening culminated with Eucharistic Adoration.
The next morning, before the march, we returned to the Patriot Center for a rally and Mass, celebrated by Bishop Paul Loverde. Fr. Agostino was present again and this time joined by musician Josh Blakesley.
There was even a seminarian dance off! Because . . . why not?
Another good year for the youth of the Diocese of Knoxville. You know, even if you are pro-choice, take heart in this: this is young people who are willing to get up from their video game or come away from the mall and actually experience discomfort - and this year's weather brought that is spades - for a cause they support. There is hope for the future when kids can take a stand and follow through on it, rather than be apathetic consumers.
Amen to that.