On January 17, the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother in Jacksonville went on a pilgrimage, with twenty girls, to attend the annual March for Life in Washington DC.
Traveling all day Thursday, the girls enthusiastically prepared themselves for the long journey ahead, many of them opening their hearts to be ready to receive the surprises and graces that the Lord had in store along the way.
That night, arriving at Mother Seton Catholic Church in Maryland, the travelers took part in the Catholic Underground rally. They participated in some praise and worship, as well as night prayer. Many of the girls found the rally beautiful and truly touching, and some of them got to meet the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFRs) who were hosting the event.
The Jacksonville travelers spent the night at Mother Seton Catholic Church, then headed to Washington, D.C. early the next morning. After exploring a bit and seeing some beautiful monuments (such as the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, and the National World War II Memorial), they headed over to catch the ending of the March for Life Rally. Shortly afterward, the 2019 March for Life started in earnest, and an estimated 300,000 people from all over the United States and the world began marching through the streets of Washington, D.C. for the sake of the hundreds of thousands of babies that die every year due to abortion. “We are the pro-life generation!” was the chant that could be heard from the gargantuan crowds that had gathered there that day.
The experience was truly incredible, and many of the girls were deeply impacted by the peaceful, prayerful, and loving nature of the March. It was also amazing to see just how many people that were there to support the noble cause. That night, the Jacksonville girls and Sisters stayed at the convent of the Sister Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matara (SSVM). They participated in a youth event that the SSVM were having, and that evening was filled with a lot of fun and joy for our Lord and our Blessed Mother. There was a holy hour, after which a festival took place (the group from Jacksonville participated in this event Saturday night as well).
The following day, they attended mass at the National Basilica in Washington DC, then explored the incredible cathedral, and the crypt beneath. The girls witnessed the beauty of Jesus and Our Lady there, and most were able to walk around to each of the small side chapels and pray to Our Blessed Mother in front of her many different statues, offering their intentions so that she might hold them in her gentle heart and intercede for them. Later, they visited the John Paul II Shrine, just a little ways away from the Basilica. There, they were able to learn about this wonderful Pope and the beautiful life that he led. They discovered that he had been a very charismatic, hardworking and brilliant man, that he contained the abounding mercy and abundant life of Our Lord and that he focused much on the youth, recognizing that they were the future of the Church. After, they were able to see his relic (which was a vial of his blood), as well as see the incorrupt heart of St. John Vianney, which was on tour in the US at the time and just happened to be at the Shrine. This was definitely a generous gift from Our Lord, and an amazing surprise.
The next day, they went to St. Francis, a Franciscan Monastery which had replicas of places from the Holy Land inside. The girls were able to see a reproduction of the spot where Jesus was anointed after death, and enter the replica of the tomb in which he was laid afterward.
The travelers from Jacksonville then made their way home, escaping from a blizzard that was supposed to hit that Sunday. The girls on the trip received innumerable graces when they opened themselves up to the Lord and allowed him to surprise them in fantastic ways. Some found the pilgrimage to be life-changing. The Holy Spirit guided them throughout the journey and showered them with many gifts, including strength, peace, and perseverance.
Truly, the journey to the March for Life was one that no one could forget!