Barry Mongeon of the Archdiocese of Boston and a member of the Class of 2024 traveled with fellow seminarians, faculty, and members of the Knights of Columbus to Washington DC for the March for Life 2022. Here is his reflection on his experience.
When we make plans to go on a vacation or some sort of trip, we initially concern ourselves with the preparations. What should we pack, how much should we bring, where will we stay, where will we go? Good preparations are expected to secure a good time and a “good time” helps to set memories. As I prepared my journey to Washington DC for this year’s March for Life, I couldn’t have imagined the impact this trip would have on me because though I had been to DC several times, this was the first March for Life I have attended. It’s a different type of journey for me. It’s one which, inspired by the Holy Spirit, had purpose and one that had the potential to change lives and hearts. We might be able to plan a journey, but we have no idea the effect that journey will have on us and on others.
As we approached the city Wednesday night, we started to see familiar state buildings, museums, and the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception all lit up against the night sky and the journey started to become real and exciting. After checking into our hotel and then a good night sleep, we head out the next morning free to explore. Later that afternoon we prepared for our first Mass at the Basilica. As we approached the Basilica we could see priests, seminarians, nuns, students, and families all making their way up the steps to the front door, all being called by the Holy Spirit. When I entered the Basilica, I was once again struck by the beauty of the art work and the space. What impressed me the most this time was the people, the huge amount of people from all walks of life, all there for one purpose; to pray for the unborn and for the women who find themselves in desperate situations.
After a night of liturgy, devotion, music and reflection, we had a bite to eat and then back to the hotel. The next day we were up early and off to the Basilica for morning mass. Cardinal Seán O’Malley was the celebrant that day. He said many inspiring and insightful things, but the ones that stood out to me were very much to the point. He said that all human life has the “right to life” and it is our obligation to defend that right. I most appreciated his understanding and compassion for the women who find themselves in difficult situations. He made it clear that it is our responsibility to help them through these times, while never judging or criticizing. He spoke honestly and frankly about abortion, and its impact on our society, and for me the most stirring thing he said was, “build a civilization of love or there will be no civilization at all.” How true. The only way for civilization to evolve and grow toward a peaceful existence is through our love for one another.
After the walk on Friday, up Constitutional Avenue to the Supreme Court, we loaded the bus and headed back to Weston. Grateful to have been a part of the walk, I sat back for the 7 hour ride and reflected on the event. I think I was most touched and moved by the people, the church of Jesus Christ, who gathered together reverently, devotedly and without reserve. We were all there together, one body in Christ. What a wonderful way to experience the way God works within us and brings us together in peace and love. Maybe Cardinal Seán will get his wish one day and the world will become a “civilization of love.”