St. Mary’s students participate in 47th annual March for Life

A group of 42 students, chaperones, seminarians, and one priest, the Rev. Luke LaFleur, from St. Mary’s School assemble outside the steps of the United States Supreme Court in Washington D.C. as they wait for the 47th annual March of Life to begin. In addition to participating in the March, the group also heard President Donald Trump speak at the rally, visited several historic sites in Washington and visited the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where they met up with two St. Mary alumni currently attending the Academy.

By Jeannie Petrus

More than an estimated 800,000 pro-life supporters marched in 47th annual March for Life in Washington D.C. Jan. 24. Among them were 29 students from St. Mary’s Catholic School. “It was absolutely amazing!” said first-time marcher Anna Kate Jackson, an SMS sophomore.

“It was so exciting to see so many young, passionate, pro-life people – from all walks of life, from every part of the country, and from so many different faiths – all walking in the support of saving the lives of the unborn.”

Jackson said she believes that so many people mistakenly have the idea that the pro-life movement is made up of only a bunch of ‘religious’ people, or that it is a “Catholic” thing. “That was definitely not the case,” she said. “We saw so many different groups like ‘Atheists for Life,’ ‘Climate Change Activists for Life,’ ‘Feminists for Life’ and ‘Vegans for Life!’ We even saw a ‘Nazis for Life’ guy out there that was kind of strange, but interesting.” “For me, this year’s march was a little more spiritual for me,” said junior Luke Zeagler, who has made the trip the past three years.

“I was sick for most of the trip, so when we visited the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception near Catholic University, I was attracted to the spiritual protection of Our Lady of Guadalupe, an iconic symbol of strength and perseverance. When I felt like I may not make it through the day, I prayed and found strength. In the end, it was all definitely worth it.” Tracie Key, an SMS high school religion teacher and Director of Religious Education, was impressed by the maturity and peacefulness of the marchers.

“The media portrays this event as a confrontational place of protesters and unrest,” said Key. “It was nothing like that. I saw very few protesters. I was amazed at how calm, peaceful and united the march was.” A highlight of the march for many was having President Donald Trump as the guest speaker at the rally. It marked the first time in history that a president has ever attended the rally and gave an address. “When I found out Trump was speaking, I knew I wanted to be up and center of where he was,” said senior Mary Anna Scruggs, and a second-year marcher.

“While waiting for the whole group to make it through security, a few of us made it through the crowd, all the way to the front. It was awesome to hear Trump speak!” Scruggs said she will always remember his words, “Every life is special. Every life matters. Every life has potential.”

In the days before and after the Friday March, Key said the St. Mary’s 43-member group, that also included 10 chaperones, two seminarians and Fr. Luke LaFleur, spent time around Washington touring the sites. The group was given a private tour of the White House Jan. 23 by three interns from U.S. House of Representative Steve Scalise’s (LA 1st District) office. They also visited the Smithsonian’s National History Museum the same day. On the day of the March, the group celebrated Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception of the campus of Catholic University.

“It was breathtaking to see such an absolutely beautiful church!” said Scruggs. “I was in awe the whole time!” On the day after the march, the group toured the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where two SMS alumni are currently enrolled. Naval cadets Matt Thibodaux and Jeremy Friedel led the tour of the Academy and visited with their siblings, Jessica Friedel Spear and Sarah Thibodaux, who were also part of the Pro-Life group.