Patrick J. Reilly is president and founder of The Cardinal Newman Society, which promotes and defends faithful Catholic education. He also teaches at Aquinas Learning, a classical Catholic homeschool program led by his wife Rosario. They have five children.
Some of the nation’s best Catholic high schools will be displaying their strong Catholic faith by joining the March for Life in Washington, D.C., this Friday.
These are schools recognized by The Cardinal Newman Society and our Catholic Education Honor Roll. They agree to uphold key principles of Catholic identity, and participation in the March for Life is an excellent way of witnessing to human dignity and teaching a Christian worldview.
Many of the school groups are traveling significant distances to make it to this year’s March, including The Atonement Academy in San Antonio, Texas; Everest Collegiate High School and Academy in Clarkston, Michigan; Bishop Thomas K. Gorman High School in Tyler, Texas; John Paul the Great Academy in Lafayette, Louisiana; The Lyceum in South Euclid, Ohio; St. Francis Xavier High School in Appleton, Wisconsin; St. James Academy in Lenexa, Kans.; St. Joseph High School in South Bend, Indiana and West Catholic High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan
These schools make the most of their time in D.C. St. Francis Xavier, for instance, has an impressive agenda! Students will attend the pro-life youth rally and Mass before the March, visit and celebrate Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, visit the Holocaust Museum (a great pro-life activity), celebrate Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, visit the St. John Paul II National Shrine, pray outside of a Planned Parenthood center, participate in Eucharistic adoration and confession, and share their experiences and impressions during small-group sessions and talks. On the way home, they will stop at Mundelein Seminary for Mass, a tour and breakfast sponsored by the Diocese of Green Bay Vocations Office.
Students in the Schola Cantorum at The Lyceum will sing Palestrina’s Missa Brevis during an Extraordinary Form Mass at St. Dominic’s Church in D.C. before the March. They too will visit the Holocaust Museum and President George Washington’s Mount Vernon.
In addition to several sites in D.C., John Paul the Great Academy makes its long journey from Louisiana a pilgrimage, stopping along the way at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama; the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland; and the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg.
Students from schools closer to Washington are able to participate more easily, and their numbers are impressive. More than 250 students from Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, Virginia, will be marching this year, after attending the pro-life rally and Mass with Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Arlington Diocese that morning.
Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia, is closing its doors on Friday to allow a group of more than 150 students and chaperones to attend the March in person – and many more are with them in spirit. As part of their “March for Me Initiative,” students from the school’s Pro-Life Club visited parishes in the area and solicited names of parishioners unable to attend the March. The students carry the names with them and pray for their intentions while marching.
Other schools may not make it to the March for Life in Washington, but that doesn’t stop them from attending other pro-life events around the country. Students from St. Anne Catholic School in Rock Hill, South Carolina, partnered with the parish youth group to attend last weekend’s March and Rally in Columbia, South Carolina. And in Spring, Texas, Frassati Catholic High School’s Culture of Life Club will sponsor a daylong pilgrimage to the Texas Rally for Life in Austin on Jan. 26.
Faithful Catholic schools play no small part in the renewal of our culture, especially when they bear witness to the dignity of all human life. The sacrifice and witness of these students and their families is an inspiration and blessing.