BY Staff Reporter | February 21 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

christopher stewart & catherine deighan

Young Scot reflects on the moments of solidarity at world’s biggest pro-life march

Catherine Deighan, reflects upon the March for Life last month which saw thousands of pilgrims gather in the US capital to stand-up for the unborn

Last month I had the opportunity, along with eight other young people, to join a trip organised by SPUC Scotland (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) to attend the annual March for Life in the US capital, Washington DC.

Leaving Glasgow on January 21, this trip marked SPUC’s fifth year of running the trip to Washington.

This pilgrimage for life allows young people to attend the biggest pro-life march in the world, while in addition attending various summits and talks throughout the week that allowed all trip members to deepen their knowledge and develop a better understanding of the debate around abortion.

Friendly welcome

We left Glasgow on a Tuesday morning eager to start our gruelling journey and arrived safely in Washington 12 hours later.

One of our trip leaders, Emmett Dooley, had once again succeeded in finding us free accommodation in the basement of St Stephen’s Church, located in central Washington DC. Our host, Mgr Paul, was as welcoming and friendly as ever as he greeted us at the parish house door.

Wednesday marked our first full day in Washington and it was mainly spent visiting memorials and museums scattered across the city. The day was full of light-hearted fun as we split up and visited all kind of sights from the National Gallery of Art to the Washington’s best attempt at an ‘Irish pub,’ especially for Emmett, who hails from County Offaly.

Our mission

We took a moment to gather together around the monument of Martin Luther King Jr. As we read extracts of his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech, we reflected on of the importance of our pilgrimage. We were reminded of our mission to promote equality for all human life.

The following day, we headed out wearing SPUC signature blue hoodies and attended the March for Life conference. This consisted of various talks from pro-life heroes from all over the US and beyond, who gave inspiring testimonies that moved us all.

One of our trip leaders, Louise Grant, spoke at the Law for Life Summit; her talk, along with her thick Glaswegian accent, was a major success. To round off the day, we attended the opening Mass for the March for Life in Washington’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Packed basilica

The basilica is the biggest church in the US and was quite breath-taking. When I asked one trip member, John Khaifala, why he was smiling so much as he was entering the church, he replied: “What is there not to smile about? This is Heaven on earth.”

The Mass was celebrated by hundreds of priests and attended by thousands of Americans. We sat, legs in a basket, squashed in an overcrowded wing of the church below the ground and watched the Mass on a big screen. Each of us basked in the incredible atmosphere and left feeling fully ready for the March.

We woke up the next morning and braced ourselves for the long day ahead.

We all wrapped up to brave the cold conditions outside, with the exception of a member of our trip Christopher Stewart, who chose proudly to wear his kilt accompanied with a saltire he tied to our flagpole where we had a SPUC banner.

Highly-anticipated

We had found out that morning we would be part of history, as President Donald Trump would be addressing the March in person. This would be the first ever time the March had been addressed in person by a US President. When we arrived at the March, singing and cheering chants, we were stopped in a sea of people to pass through airport-like security channels which had been set up in order to enter the main square to see Trump.

We sadly had to say goodbye to Christopher’s sgian-dubh, before proceeding into the centre of the square where we were able to hear President Trump’s national address and listen to various inspiring speakers who reminded us the importance of this annual March and encouraged us in our pro-life efforts. After the rally, the much-anticipated March finally began.

We joined a throng of thousands of people in the streets of Washington proudly marching towards Congress. The number of people attending was staggering. Groups of families, friends, students, dancers all marched in unison. There were moments of joy as well as moments of solidarity throughout.

Pro-life generation

When I got to Capitol Hill, I turned around and took in the view behind me. For miles, there were crowds of people proudly holding up signs. Many read ‘I am the pro-life generation.’ Looking around and noticing the thousands of young enthusiastic people, I knew this sign was true. We finished the day of the March with a well-deserved McDonalds.

The rest of the trip flew in as we went to a pro-life summit conference the day after. I stayed with our trip leader Eden Linton who spent the day chasing down all her pro-life heroes. After our final day, spent exploring DC on electric scooters, we began our 18-hour journey home.

Despite being shattered, we each felt renewed and refreshed in our pro-life beliefs. We were all clear in our mission: to come home to Glasgow and spread our new-found enthusiasm for the pro-life cause.

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