SJN Mass Sendoff for March for Life
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor and Margarita Mendoza El Observador Editor
January 30, 2020
ST. CHARLES—Father Jeremy Trowbridge celebrated the Jan. 22 send-off Mass at St. John Neumann Church here for pilgrims to the March for Life in Washington, D.C. 
Two full busses from the Diocese of Rockford traveled to the Jan. 24 event.
As spiritual director for the Life and Family Evangelization Office — which organizes the diocesan-sponsored trip each year — Father Trowbridge estimated this was the eighth time he was traveling to the nation’s capitol for the march. 
“Each year (on the diocesan trip) you see new groups develop,” he said after the Mass as everyone shared a pizza dinner. “One of the great attributes of the diocesan trip is that it permits communities in our diocese an access to the March for Life, so they can learn about the journey and build up that confidence and familiarity (in order) to take their own groups out someday. 
“This year, for example, the high school students at Marian Central are off on their own this year for the first time (after) they’ve been with us for the past several years. I’m looking forward to seeing them in D.C., along with Boylan and the many other schools and groups there from our diocese,” he said.
Father Trowbridge is pastor of SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Cary.
Marian Central Catholic High School is in Woodstock and Boylan Central Catholic High School is in Rockford.
“It’s always good to get that taste of our nation’s capitol, and the voices and witnesses to new life, so I’m very excited about that,” Father Trowbridge said. 
The Washington D.C. weather forecast, he said, “is supposed to be lovely. 50 degrees! So I’m stoked.” 
Among the pilgrims at the Jan. 22 Mass at St. John Neumann Church was Devin Vanwalleghan, who identified himself as a Brew City Catholic missionary from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. This was his fourth year at the March.
“My expectation is just to really experience the community and the love and respect that people have for life not only at the March for Life itself, but at the vigil Mass,” he said. 
The vigil Mass the evening prior to the March is held annually at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at the campus of the Catholic University of America. It welcomes not only an overflow of pilgrims but also bishops and priests from many dioceses, including for several years now, Bishop of Rockford David Malloy.
“Just gathering with 10 to 12,000 people for Mass and just really experiencing the beautiful love of the Lord and just how awesome it is,” is how Vanwalleghan describes it. 
At the St. Charles send-off Mass, he also was anticipating going “to the March for Life and have 500,000-600,000 people there who aren’t marching for themselves in any way. They’re marching for the unborn who cannot march. It’s such a beautiful witness and I’m so thankful to be a part of it. 
“I’m going to keep coming back until I don’t have to anymore, and then I’ll go in thanksgiving that it’s done, and that Roe v. Wade is overturned.”
The itinerary for the diocesan pilgrims included a pre-March exploration of the Pope St. John Paul II National Shrine and Mass with Bishop Malloy in the shrine chapel. 
After the March and dinner, an optional moonlight tour of the Washington monuments was offered.
Saturday’s schedule included several hours of free time for groups to explore the memorials, monuments and museums of the National Mall. Mass at Immaculate Conception Church was followed by an early-evening departure to return to Illinois by late Sunday morning.
“I am so proud of our young people,” wrote Collins in email from Washington. “They are such an inspiration!”