March For Life 2013 Recap


From January 23 through January 27th, fifty-nine Joliet Catholic Academy students- the most of any school in the Joliet Diocese- embarked on a 14-hour pilgrimage to the nation’s capital to take a stand for life. The Respect Life Club is all about standing up for all aspects of life, from euthanasia to the death penalty. However, this important trip was for March for Life, where a record number of pro-life supporters came together on the national mall to end abortion.  This year’s March for Life marked the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision and in turn, brought over 650,000 people out to march in support of pro-life. Theology teacher and Respect Life Club moderator Jeremy Hylka led the charge for JCA’s 7th year participating in the March for Life.

Their first stop was the Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception for the Opening Mass of the Prayer Vigil for Life where about 10,000 Catholics unite, which was led by Cardinal O’Malley, who is the Director of Pro-Life activities for the United States. On Friday, the group took part in the youth rally in the Verizon Center, where 20,000 teens gathered to celebrate the Eucharist and have a “pre-rally” before the actual march was to take place. Afterward, they took to the national mall and listened to pro-life politicians and religious figures from various faiths until the start of the march. Students marched past the Capitol building and ended at the Supreme Court, where they heard women tell their stories of regretting having had an abortion and men lamenting their lost fatherhood.

Post-march, chaperones and students had a “celebration of life” dinner to reflect on their experiences. Hylka commented, “As an adult, it always moves me to see the young people, not only of Joliet Catholic and the Diocese, but in in the country, of all different ages, of all different races, all different backgrounds joining together as one body of Christ and one nation standing up for life.”

Senior Michael Kaminski, who is an officer in the Respect Life Club said this of his trip last year, which made him come back as a leader, “I’d say this…something just clicked inside me where it was kind of just like, ‘Boom, I have a relationship with God now. ‘ Being around so many people that are Catholic, is just honestly so amazing. Something just clicks and you know why you’re here and what you’re here for.”

Stefani D’Andrea, who is also a senior Respect Life officer, reflected on why it’s important for her to be pro-life leader, “This is the first step of standing your ground and believing in something. I know for us, going away next year, it’s extremely difficult to keep our morals and to stand our ground. This helps because we do face opposition and we do get that fire back at us for just choosing to go on the trip.”

As Mr. Hylka tells his students, “You have to walk the walk and talk the talk.” Joliet Catholic Academy continues to be a trendsetter in the Diocese of Joliet by requiring four years of religious studies. JCA is co-sponsored by the order of Carmelites and the Joliet Franciscan sisters.

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