Thousands of people braved a snowstorm to show their support for the beauty and dignity of human life from conception to natural death at the 51st annual National March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Fri., Jan 19.

Faithful from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia took part in the march with many buses organized by parishes and schools including Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield and Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood.

The Respect Life Club at Cardinal O’Hara traveled to D.C. by bus the evening before the march.

“This year’s March for Life was a little different compared to the year before,” said Senior Alexandra Lombardo. “A huge snowstorm rolled in,” she said, and despite “snow, ice, and chilly winds,” many people still marched “to stand up for the unborn.”

Seminarians from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary also traveled to D.C. the evening before the March and attended the National Prayer Vigil for Life that started with a Mass in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Most Reverend Michael Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, was the principal celebrant.

“The march has always been very special for me,” says Seminarian Declan Cole, whose home parish is Our Lady of Good Counsel parish in Southampton, Bucks County. Cole attended the march with his mother when he was young, saying he’s only missed two marches “since I was about 10-years old.”

“God calls me to Washington, D.C. every year to remember, be strengthened, and persevere,” Cole said. He believes the march calls all people to “remember that Christ has overcome all evil,” and he additionally finds strength by the faith of the other marchers around him.

“Whether it be those from Louisiana or Alaska, the witness others give strengthens this important fight in my everyday life,” he added.

On the morning of the march, O’Hara students first attended an event called “Life Fest,” held by the Sisters of Life and the Knights of Columbus at the 10,000-seat D.C. Armory in southeast Washington. It was the second year both organizations teamed up to host Life Fest in conjunction with the National March for Life.

At Life Fest, students had the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before celebrating Mass with the Knights of Columbus Supreme Chaplain Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore.

Life Fest attendees also had the opportunity to venerate first-class relics of the Ulma family, who were recently beatified in their native Poland.

That same morning, Saint Charles seminarians served at an opening Mass celebrated for the Philadelphia delegation at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Most Reverend John J. McIntyre, Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, was the principal celebrant. He was joined by Most Reverend Joseph L. Coffey, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, who offered the homily. Bishop Coffey was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1996. Following the Mass, marchers assembled at the National Mall at noon for a pre-march rally.

“With Every Woman, For Every Child” was the theme of this year’s march. Speakers at the pre-march rally spoke of the need to empower women facing unexpected pregnancies, emphasizing that these women are not alone — and that the pro-life movement is ready and waiting to help them choose life for their babies.

The march kicked off around 1:00 p.m. and had a slightly different marching route than in years past, with marchers finishing between the Capitol and Supreme Court buildings.

O’Hara students additionally stayed in D.C. for the weekend to attend The National Pro-Life Summit at the Grand Hyatt Washington.

“We received a lot of valuable information that we’re able to take back to our communities and help defend life and the human dignity of each person as part of our missionary discipleship,” said Senior Maura Kane of her experiences at the March for Life and the Pro-Life Summit.

Senior Jimmy Coppock agreed with Kane’s sentiments adding, “The Summit was full of powerful speakers and amazing advocates who enlightened me with much information.”

“I was overall filled with a sensation of joy to be a part of something so compelling.  I’m very excited to continue to take action and fight for life.”

“I’m so grateful for this experience and the opportunity to learn more about my faith and the pro-life movement,” said Lombardo. “This weekend left me with the knowledge and determination to be unstoppable and put an end to abortions.”