By Lorenzo Hatch
With eager anticipation and hope that this would be the last time, two seminarians from the Diocese of San Angelo: Sam Matthiesen and Lorenzo Hatch, along with 8 other seminarians from Conception Seminary College flew to our nation’s capital to participate in the National March for Life.
This year marked the 34th anniversary of an extremely sad moment in the history of the United States: that fateful decision Roe v. Wade rendered on January 22, 1973, and in that short span of 34 years, over 47 million human lives have been killed.
After arrival, we took the “Metro” (D.C.’s subway system) to the Catholic University of America, to the Capuchin Friar’s Residence on the Catholic University of America’s Campus to which they graciously opened their Friary for us. One of the principal hallmarks of the Capuchin Friars is their Hospitality, and while they were giving us a tour of “our home,” a white haired and bearded friar arrived at the door. As he was standing at the entrance exchanging welcomes with his brother friars, our mouths dropped to the floor. It was Sean Cardinal O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston! He is a huge role model to us seminarians for his example of humility.
Sunday Evening was the Vigil Mass for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which was just blocks away from “our home.” All seminarians were asked to vest in Cassock and Surplice because we would be part of the procession. As we were walking to the Shrine, we encountered some habited sisters and discovered that they were the Sisters for Life from New York founded by Cardinal O’Connor. When we got to the Shrine, over 10,000 people was
in attendance, the majority of whom were youth.
We were directed to the main vesting areas in the crypt church. Upon reaching the lower level, there were literally hundreds upon hundreds of priests, deacons and seminarians. It was definitely an affirming sight to behold. At one point, I remember them telling us to line up in twos because the procession was beginning. As we entered the main church, we were hit with a storm of emotions. The smell of incense, the grandeur of the organ and choir, the overwhelming crowd, and of course our hearts and voices united as one Church coming humbly before our Lord in prayer to witness with our lives that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
During the homily we heard from Justin Cardinal Rigali about how the latest polls are consistently showing that Americans are becoming more pro-life. A December poll conducted by Zogby International, a respected nonpartisan polling firm, confirms that, by a 53% to 36% margin, the public supports the statement, “Abortion destroys a human life and is manslaughter.” Often we wonder, does our prayer really matter? Does our praying a rosary in front of Planned Parenthood really matter? Does our participation in a march really matter? Does our witness as practicing Catholics really matter? The answer to this and all the questions is YES!!! It is our tireless efforts that have brought America to this point. (Please pat yourself on the back.)
The next morning at the Verizon Center, Archbishop Wuerl was the principal celebrant at the Youth Rally and Mass, where over 20,000 young people gathered to unite themselves and to represent the youth of America for one of the most uplifting Masses we have ever experienced. The seminarians were given a very special place of honor…the seating right in front of the main stage. Everybody else sat in the arena seating, including priests, and deacons. All throughout the Mass, Vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life was pushed and encouraged.
After the Mass, we embarked on the March were tens of thousands of Americans joined together to say “this isn’t over yet.” The March began on the National Mall and went down Constitution Avenue to the United States Supreme Court Building. This took several hours to accomplish, and we were all truly touched by the dedication and determination by so many Americans. They gave a clear message of hope for our country. May we continue to allow God to work in our lives, by our words, deeds, and prayer. That we may also be a beacon of hope and light for those who can’t find their way, and again in the words of Sean Cardinal O’Malley… “THIS ISN’T OVER YET!!!”