By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
Pro-life high school students and adults in the Diocese of Davenport are invited to take a pilgrimage to Washington, D.C., to participate in the annual March for Life Jan. 19-23.
2015 marks the third year for the trip, which is organized by St. Mary Parish in Oskaloosa. March for Life is an annual event held on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision, which legalized abortion in the United States. The march takes place on the National Mall, and finishes in front of the Supreme Court.
Donna DeJoode, director of religious education at St. Mary, said the pilgrimage offers an opportunity for participants to grow spiritually and communally while defending basic life principles.
Participants will travel by bus. DeJoode explained that the trip will utilize travel time as an opportunity to pray for those affected by abortion and to learn more about its impact through discussions, lessons and videos. “It isn’t just about the (destination); it’s about the journey to get there.”
In the late night hours of Jan. 19 and early Jan. 20, the bus will pick up passengers in Pella, Oskaloosa, Iowa City and Davenport before making the approximately 21-hour journey to Washington, D.C. Participants will stay at St. Elizabeth Church in nearby Rockville, Md.; beds will not be provided but guests are allowed to bring air mattresses and camp pads. Showers will not be available, so guests should plan accordingly.
On Jan. 21, participants will meet with elected officials, tour the Holocaust Museum and the Smithsonian, and celebrate Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception — the largest Roman Catholic Church in North America.
On Jan. 22, the March for Life will start after a morning Mass. Following a tour of the memorials near the National Mall, the bus will head home and return to Iowa early the next afternoon.
Father Jeffry Belger, pastor of St. Mary parishes in Oskaloosa and Pella, said the group will take a peaceful approach during the march, choosing to witness to God’s love and mercy as opposed to protesting.
“We want to advocate for changing of laws and culture, but more than that we want to be witness to what God is inviting us to. … Anger isn’t going to change hearts, but we can help God to change people’s hearts, not by telling them they are wrong but inviting them to what is right.”
Kent Ferris, director of the diocesan Social Action Office, said the trip is an excellent opportunity to get involved with the pro-life aspect of Church teaching, and he lauded St. Mary Parish for planning the trip.
“With a small diocesan office staff, we rely on folks in local parishes who are creative and ambitious in planning, and show a willingness to invite others … Some parishes may never have enough people to fill a bus, but because of (the) invitation, many parishes can merely ‘plug in’ to the opportunity to be part of this important, life-affirming trip,” Ferris said.
Cost for the trip is $250 per person, plus meals. The 50 available spots are first-come, first-served. A $100 deposit is due by Nov. 15, with a final payment due by Dec. 15.
For more information or to register, or to make a donation for food or to sponsor an attendee, contact Donna DeJoode at (641)780-7505 or firstname.lastname@example.org.