In a four-day trip to the nation’s capital that was expecting an impending blizzard, 25 students from Sacred Heart School embarked on what was described as a very meaningful journey last week.
The students went to Washington, D.C., to attend the March for Life on Jan. 22 in support of unborn children.
For two SHS students, Abby Smeltzer and Olivia Sobaski, the cancellation of the march because of the storm only strengthened their commitment to their beliefs to protect the unborn.
“It was disappointing that we were not able to hold the march and rally this year,” Sobaski said. “But, I think because it was cancelled it gave me more time to realize how many students did choose to attend to represent our generation and the over fi5 million individuals who could not attend because someone made the choice to have an abortion.
“Over one-third of my generation is gone and never had the chance to live because of that choice,” Sobaski added. “They could have become my neighbor, or best friend or the president, but they were never given the chance.”
Both Smeltzer and Sobaski said they think the decision to allow abortions in the United States, because of the 1973 Supreme Court Decision Roe v. Wade, will in time change.
“I really think we are becoming a pro-life generation,” Sobaski said. “So many individuals now realize that change will come.
“I think that our generation senses that it’s God’s place to choose when to end a life and a life shouldn’t end because it is an inconvenience to someone,” she added.
Sobaski, a senior, has attended the march each year she has been in high school. As a sophomore, this is Smeltzer’s second trip.
“It’s not only Olivia, but the trip made me realize how many people share our views on this issue,” Smeltzer said. “I really realized that we have so many others that we can lean on for support.
“I think it is important for others who may find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy to realize that they have others too,” she added. “There are so many places they can go for help and support and there are other options such as adoption for them to choose.”
Father Geoffrey Brooke, Junior Associate for the Catholic Community of Pettis County, also went on the trip and spoke of the support from the community.
“I can’t tell you the sheer number of people who expressed their payers and concern for our safety while we were gone and the gratitude and joy they gave all of us upon our return,” Brooke said.
“Personally, one of the most moving events of the trip was when we attended the pro-life mass that Cardinal Dolan officiated at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception,” Brooke said. “There were perhaps 20 to 30 bishops and hundreds of priests who also attended, many of whom are friends that I was ordained with and I hadn’t seen in years; it was a joy to be a part of the service and to experience the connection between faith and the cause that we were all there for.”
Last year an estimated 800,000 people attended the events.
“We know that the numbers were down this year because of the weather,” Sobaski said. “If anything I think next year the numbers will be even bigger; I really want to go next year because it is such a moving experience.”
Sobaski added that it shows the commitment to their beliefs of those who attended to go in the face of the impending storm.
“It was the dead cold of winter, like it is every year at this time, and the most miserable, worst part of the year,” Sobaski said. “But we chose to attend the event to represent something that we care about.
“There were a few times in the middle of the night when I would ask myself, ‘what are we doing?’” she added. “But then I answered myself and said I know that the cause is bigger than me; sleeping on a bus is no inconvenience compared to the loss of life from an abortion.”
Smeltzer has plans to attend next year and hopes she and others can inform more students about the event.
“I really want to encourage more people to attend,” Smeltzer said. “The trip is about $150 and we had several events to help offset the cost of the trip.”
Brooke too hopes more individuals will attend next year, but said others had also made sacrifices for those who were able to make the trip this year.
“It’s really not about those of us who went, but it is about those who made sacrifices to make this happen,” Brooke said. “Those who support us whether it is through their thoughts and contributions are appreciated.
“Their efforts may take a different look, but it is all very much appreciated,” he added.
Individuals who would like to attend the Midwest March for Life will have the opportunity Saturday in Jefferson City. The event is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. at St. Peter’s Church with a rally to be hosted in the Capitol Rotunda at 10:30.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484