The March began in 1974, one year after the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade imposed permissive abortion laws nationwide, and has drawn tens of thousands of protestors to the nation’s capital for decades.
Pre-eminent among the colleges participating in the March is the Front Royal, Virginia-based Christendom College, which has participated in the demonstration since 1974. It will bus all of its students to Washington, and for the third time will lead the March with its school banner.
Magdalen College’s entire student body will travel about 500 miles from Warner, New Hampshire to march for the second straight year. Students solicited donations for the trip.
“We mourn the intentional killing of millions of innocent babies and the suffering of pregnant mothers from these killings, and we wish to show America our determination to defend life, and our unequivocal endorsement of the Culture of Life,” Magdalen President Jeffrey J. Karls said, according to the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS).
Hundreds of students will be housed at Catholic University of America’s (CUA) DuFour Center and the nearby Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Nearly 200 students from CUA have volunteered to assist the March and to serve as ushers at the pro-life Masses, such as the January 21 National Prayer Vigil for Life, which is expected to draw around 16,000 people this year.
“I have seen the hundreds of students who come to the Vigil and then stay on to sleep overnight in the crypt of the Shrine,” said Joseph A. Esposito, director of CNS’s Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education. “It is truly an awesome experience to see this outpouring of support from young people, and it makes you thankful for the high schools and colleges which help nurture this prayerful dedication.”
About 750 students from Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio will attend the March. Emily Espinola, Campus Students for Life vice president, described her university as “very pro-life” and explained that her organization’s main focus on campus is “educating students about the pro-life movement and how they can be pro-life.”
Espinola said her group’s activities include holding prayer ministry outside clinics, training sidewalk counselors, hosting prominent speakers and educational talks, and connecting with students from other schools to train pro-life leaders.
Benedictine College in Kansas will send about ten percent of its student body to the National March, a figure 60 percent higher than last year. Those students who remain in Kansas will hold a 24-hour prayer vigil at St. Benedict’s Abbey Church.
The West Coast March for Life, to be held in San Francisco on January 24, is expected to draw about two-thirds of the student body from Thomas Aquinas College, based 400 miles away in Santa Paula.
“We are heartened by the Catholic college officials, faculty and students who are standing up in defense of innocent human life, an important way of living out their Catholic identity,” said Esposito. “The enthusiasm of thousands of students, administrators and faculty for the March for Life and other pro-life activities gives us renewed optimism that the moral crime of abortion will eventually end.”
“The pro-life dedication of these and other Catholic colleges is part of the ‘springtime’ of spiritual revival in Catholic higher education,” he continued. “We are blessed to have this profound witness intensifying as we engage a disturbingly hostile culture.”
This year’s National March for Life will begin Thursday, January 22 at 12:00 p.m. on the National Mall in Washington D.C.