WASHINGTON, DC, January 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Following the rally at the National Mall Monday, the 38th annual March for Life commenced, with an estimated 400,000 marchers making their way to the Supreme Court. The massive crowd, noticeably larger than last year’s record crowd and composed of a majority of youth under age 25, seemed more jubilant than ever in their celebration of life.
Competing chants from one group to another could be heard throughout. “We love babies yes we do, we love babies how about you,” was echoed from side to side along the route. There was one group in particular, however, who most would concede were the chant champions. With yellow hats, yellow sweat shirts and yellow balloons reading “LIFE,” 162 youth from St. John Cantius parish in Chicago, Illinois, filled one of the steps of the Senate office building at the top of the hill leading toward the Supreme Court.
Fr. Jim Isaacson, a priest from the parish, told LifeSiteNews the secret of the group’s success as chant champions ... practice. Prior even to the 14-hour bus ride to Washington, the group practiced and even composed their own chants. Adding to their power was that a full third of the group is involved in choirs. Jumping, chanting, singing, and dancing, this troupe enlivened the hundreds of thousands of passers-by with voices, which Fr. Isaacson admitted may find themselves somewhat strained at next Sunday’s Mass.
Another group of 21 youth traveled from Springfield, Illinois on a 19-hour bus ride, which Stephanie Kayton told LSN was “absolutely worth it.”
The Archdiocese of Omaha was represented by some 350 youth, 325 of whom traveled by bus for 24 hours straight. Ann-Marie Bowen of Nebraskans United for Life flew down with another 25. Fr. Cook, the pro-life director for the Archdiocese told LSN that after the march the youth were headed for meetings with their local Congressmen.
Ohio Right to Life boasted of “tens of thousands” of Ohioans at the DC March for Life. Nearly one tenth of the Ohio delegation consists of students and friends at Franciscan University of Steubenville. The state pro-life group also noted that “Ohio’s own, John Boehner, United States Speaker of the House, recently stated he would prioritize legislation that would permanently prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion across federal programs.”
Front Royal, Virginia’s Christendom College was out again in full force at the march. Junior Christine Nussio was impressed by the number of pro-lifers who attended.
“I am blown away by the numbers-and some of them come from very far away to spend one day showing the nation where they stand on issues of life,” she said.
The numbers also amazed Sophomore Jacinta Ferri. “It seemed like a larger crowd than last year-it was really exciting,” she said.
A native of Canada, Ferri said that before coming to Christendom, she attended the March for Life in Ottawa where the crowd is not as large. “Being in the larger crowd gets you more pumped-up for the cause,” she said. “It’s really reassuring to see so many people.”
Long after most marchers had dispersed, a group of young people remained across the street from the Supreme Court, heads bowed in solemn prayer. Their sign “ByznTeens for Life” signified that they were Byzantine Catholics known for their intense and lengthy prayers. Rachel Pawluszka, 16, one of the ByzanTeens, told LifeSiteNews that the best thing about the March for her was meeting so many others, even those of different religious backgrounds, who all share the love and reverence for life.
Nellie Gray, the leader of the March for Life noted from the stage before the departure of the March that she could not even see the end of the marchers stretched out before her. At the Rose Dinner after the march Gray noted that it was the largest march in her memory.