DIOCESE—Bishop David Malloy celebrated Masses on Jan. 25 with students and adults traveling from Rockford and from St. Charles to the March for Life in Washington, D.C.
The mid-afternoon Mass at the Boylan Central Catholic High School chapel welcomed 59 Boylan students and 13 students from St. Rita School, both in Rockford.
Fathers David Finn and John Evans celebrated the Mass with the bishop. Both priests were set to travel east with the students and their chaperones on two coach buses.
Three hours later at St. John Neumann Parish in St. Charles, participants in a trip coordinated by the diocesan Diocesan Life and Family Evangelization Office gathered for Mass.
Pilgrims there included a number of students from the Newman Center in DeKalb along with Father Jeremy Trowbridge who was ready to accompany them.
Other pilgrims came from parishes and schools in Aurora, Crystal Lake McHenry, Richmond, Sterling and Dixon to finish filling the two coach buses.
Middle school students from St. John Neumann also came for the send-off Mass as did with their pastor, Father David Peck, and Father Jerome Leake, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Aurora.
At both Masses, Bishop Malloy gently teased the pilgrims with the predicted weariness that would likely settle in after several hours of riding the bus. He reminded them of the journey’s pilgrimage nature, adding that “I’m very proud of each one of you.”
The first event for both groups was to be the Vigil Mass on Jan. 26 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. Bishop Malloy described the Mass with its estimated 45-minute procession of clergy and wall-to-wall pilgrims. He told them he would be there and would also join them for the March itself on Jan. 27.
The bishop encouraged them to go down to the lower level of the basilica if they could to see the small chapel where daily Mass is celebrated. It was there that, while working at the USCCB, then-Msgr. Malloy was asked to substitute for someone at that Mass. After the Mass, he was asked by a pregnant woman if it would be okay with God if she had an abortion.
His story of that encounter and follow up had the bishop noting that none of the marchers can know who may be inspired by, or at least challenged by, them. He quoted Pope John Paul II’s words from The Gospel of Life spoken to women who had had abortions, which reminded those women of the hope they still could have in God and His Church.
“We also are marching to say to women as well, ‘There’s love, there’s mercy,’” said Bishop Malloy. “None of us knows who will be watching (or) who will be strengthened by watching you.”