Blizzard won't stop march, but safety concerns cancel some trips to D.C.

By Jennifer Brinker

(CNS) — Sometimes being pro-life means making difficult decisions.

of a predicted snowstorm in Washington, the St. Louis archdiocesan Catholic
Youth Apostolate canceled its Generation Life pilgrimage to the March for Life.

About 2,200 teens, adult
chaperones, volunteers and staff were expected to participate in the 43rd
annual march Jan. 22.

The youth apostolate
consulted with several area meteorologists, who were “95 percent
confident” the Washington region would receive approximately 15 to 18
inches or more of snow over a few days, beginning the day of the march,
according to executive director Brian Miller.

Participants will be
refunded the cost of the trip, minus a small non-refundable registration fee. The
apostolate planned to host a local event at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis
the afternoon of Jan. 23.

“This is not a
decision that was taken lightly,” Miller told the St. Louise Review, the
archdiocesan newspaper. “The likelihood was so high of a major weather
event in D.C. As a father, I considered if those were my children on the bus,
what would I want to happen? We have a moral obligation to prioritize the
safety and well-being of our youth.”

As of late afternoon Jan.
21, the Capital Weather Gang was reporting that starting at 3 p.m. (EST) Jan.
22, a blizzard warning will span the entire Washington region until 6 a.m.
(EST) Jan. 24. About 2 feet of snow was forecast for the area.

“Everything is still
on schedule,” Jeanne Monahan-Mancini, president of March for Life, told
Catholic News Service mid-day Jan. 21. She said that so far only one speaker
had canceled.

“The March for Life will go
on no matter the weather,” noted the organization’s website,

Is Pro-Woman” is this year’s theme.

Because of the ongoing
refurbishment of the National Mall and strict new regulations that require
temporary flooring to protect the grass, the Jan. 22 rally will be held at noon
on the Washington Monument grounds.

Others schedule to speak
included retired Baltimore Ravens football player Matt Birk; Republican
presidential candidate and businesswoman Carly Fiorina; Sen. Joni Ernst,
R-Iowa; Rep. Chris Smith, R-New Jersey; and Jim Daly, president of Focus on the

Daly also was headlining the first
major pro-life conference for evangelicals to be held in conjunction with the
March for Life.

After the rally, participants planned to march up Constitution
Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Many groups that still planned
to come to the event marking the anniversary of the 1973 Roe decision included
busloads from the Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota.

“They’re a bunch of tough
folks,” said Suzanne O’Connor, an office assistant at St. Peter’s Catholic
Church on Capitol Hill, where the North Dakotans expected to arrive in the
early morning Jan. 22 before the rally and march.

Also not canceling as of the
afternoon Jan. 21 were groups from the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, and
the dioceses of St. Augustine and Venice, Florida.

AP quoted Monahan-Mancini as
saying that “most marchers do tend to come from a strong religious
background” that makes them willing to sacrifice their comfort at what
usually is the coldest time of the year.”

She added that anyone who is
pro-life and “a peaceful protester is welcome to join us at the March for

The Missouri Life Caravan was
moving forward with its travel plans to attend the march, according to Connie
Eller of Missouri Right to Life.

pilgrims from St. Louis arrived in Washington a week earlier last week and were
expected to go ahead with plans to participate in the march. And more than 500
St. Louis teens separate from the Generation Life group had tickets to attend
the Rally and Mass for Life at the Verizon Center, organized by the Archdiocese
of Washington.

Diocesan groups in Ohio,
Virginia, Indiana and Michigan canceled their trips to Washington, but the Philadelphia Archdiocese indicated no change in plans as
late Jan. 21. Some Philadelphia parishes were canceling their trips, and the archdiocese
left the call up to individuals.

Bishop John J. McIntyre planned to lead the Philadelphia contingent traveling
by bus, train and car to Washington. Hundreds of parishioners, clergy and
religious from the Philadelphia Archdiocese normally travel each year for the

Dubbed Winter Storm
Jonas, some 74 million Americans from Nebraska to New York City will be
affected by blizzard conditions of the mammoth storm.

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is a staff writer at the St. Louis Review, newspaper of the Archdiocese of St.
Louis. She and photojournalist Lisa Johnston of the Review arrived in
Washington Jan. 19 to cover the march but the impending blizzard cut their trip
short. Contributing to this story was Kurt Jensen in Washington and Matthew Gambino in Philadelphia.

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