By Maureen Smith
JACKSON – Catholic Charities’ Pro-Life working group has started planning the diocesan trip to the 2015 March for Life in Washington, D.C. The group has some activities already in the works and has launched a website to help youth leaders plan, raise money and get teens excited about the trip, set for Jan. 20-24, 2015.
In addition to the march itself, participants will attend a concert and prayer vigil arranged by the Archdiocese of Arlington, tour Mount St. Sepulcher, a Franciscan monastery, attend Mass at the national shrine of the Immaculate Conception, visit the shrine of Saint John Paul II and more as the itinerary develops.
“This peaceful demonstration that has followed the somber anniversary of (the Supreme Court case) Roe v. Wade every year since Jan. 22, 1973, is a witness to the truth concerning the greatest human rights violation of our time, legalized abortion on demand,” wrote Charlotte Koestler, Catholic Charities parish social ministry program specialist, in a press release inviting youth groups to start their own planning.
Teenagers who go often speak about how much the trip changed how they think about how church teaching impacts their lives. Patrick and Andrew Morgan, brothers from Madison St. Joseph school, both said it was a worthwhile experience.
“The trip really puts it into perspective for you that you are not alone in your beliefs and that there are many people right behind you in support. It is very comforting,” said 15-year-old Patrick Morgan.
His brother felt like the event was a great teaching tool. “The March for Life is perhaps the pinnacle of Catholic identity in education. I can truly feel the Church and her teachings living and well. It is a shaking event, but a necessary one. It really puts into perspective the present state of our nation, and calls to attention our role in it,” said 17-year-old Andrew Morgan.
The fee is $375 per student and includes the cost of the bus, hotel, six meals and admission to the activities. Students will have to pay for the remaining meals and may want to bring spending money.
Organizers, who include Kathie Curtis, director of the Office of Youth Ministry, representatives from diocesan high schools, the Knights of Columbus and parish youth leaders, are hoping that starting registrations early this year will give groups time to raise enough money to fill the bus . As always, the journey will start with Mass, this year celebrated by Bishop Joseph Kopacz. Koestler encourages teens, youth leaders and pastors to register online at www.jacksonmarchforlife.com and to check the site often for updates to the itinerary, reflections from those who have attended before and more detailed information on the trip.
By Maureen Smith