January 29, 2016
With the winter storm Jonas promising to blanket Washington, D.C. with two feet of snow just in time for the annual March for Life, hundreds of thousands of people across the country were faced with the choice of taking a chance and heading for the nation’s capital or deciding discretion was the better part of valor.
Although most of the groups from the Nashville Diocese planning to attend the March on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion on demand decided not to risk being caught by the storm, 20 students and four members of the staff at Aquinas College decided to make the trip, hoping to avoid the worst of the storm.
While in Washington, the Aquinas group attended a rally and protest at the construction site of a new abortion facility and the Vigil Mass at the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception.
“That’s really cool,” said Veronica Kitzhaber, who made her seventh trip to the March for Life. “The church was filled to capacity with hundreds of priests, dozens of bishops and cardinals. It’s all young Catholics who are there for the March for Life the next day.”
After the Vigil Mass, the Aquinas group went to the Dominican House of Studies across the street for dinner and prayers, Kitzhaber said. “We were able to meet students from other Dominican campuses across the country,” said the Aquinas junior majoring in elementary education. “It was really cool.We go every year and it’s a nice opportunity to meet other students who have a similar educational experience as us.”
On Friday morning, the Aquinas group headed to the Verizon Center for the annual rally sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington. This year, the weather forecast kept many people away and the Verizon Center was about half full, Kitzhaber said.
“Even though it was small, the energy was higher than it had been in past years. People were more excited, more engaged,” Kitzhaber said. The energy was higher “partially because it was the hard core people,” she said. “Also it was a kind of resilience. We’re here because we’re pro-life and we want to support this cause. We might be the few but we are the proud.”
The Aquinas students were pressed into duty helping with the social media promotion from the Verizon Center because the group originally scheduled to help had cancelled because of the weather.
After the Verizon Center rally, the Aquinas group decided not to press their luck and left for Nashville rather than stay for the March, Kitzhaber said. They headed north through Ohio to try to skirt the storm, but as they were driving through West Virginia the snow started to fall.
They arrived in Columbus, Ohio, about seven and half hours later, about an hour and half longer than it should have taken, Kitzhaber said. But the Aquinas students apparently just missed the worst of the storm. Another group who left Washington after the March for Life got caught in the snow on the highway and arrived in Columbus 11 hours after the Aquinas students, Kitzhaber said.
Saturday morning, the Aquinas group had a smooth trip home until they got to Nashville, which was still digging out from its own snow storm.
“The trip was worth it for me. Most of the people felt the same,” said Kitzhaber. “It was disappointing we didn’t get to march but I’m glad we got home safely.”