Teens from the Diocese of Superior pose for a Washington D.C. selfie with Chris Hurtubise (front, right), associate director of Catholic formation. Hurtubise led his first trip to the March for Life Jan. 24-29. (Submitted photo)

Anita Draper
Catholic Herald staff

A  pilgrimage “densely structured with prayer and formation” is how Chris Hurtubise, associate director of Catholic formation, describes the trip to the 2017 March for Life.

It wasn’t a vacation, but 25 youths and chaperones still enjoyed the Jan. 24-29 journey to Washington D.C. to represent the Diocese of Superior in the annual pro-life rally.

Bused with 100 Catholics from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, the Superior crowd stayed at a hotel in Falls Church, Virginia; visited the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, St. Thomas More Exhibit and the Lincoln Memorial; and attended daily Mass at a series of churches, including the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington D.C., and the National Shrine of Therese of Lisieux in Darien, Illinois.

The Jan. 27 March, set every year on or near Jan. 22 to mark the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion-on-demand, drew hundreds of thousands of protestors, media outlets reported.

“This was the first year I was able to go to the March in D.C. I’d been before in different cities, but seeing the overall scope of it in our nation’s capitol was a bit mind-blowing,” Hurtubise commented. “The thing that stood out and made the biggest impact on me was the joy and vitality that our group radiated – and really that was true of all of the groups we encountered. The constant smiles and the purity of the message said ‘we are here to speak love’ to a confused and twisted world. We’ve all seen the culture try to define this movement as ‘anti-this’ and ‘anti-that’, but if you witnessed the March for Life with an open mind, you couldn’t possibly draw that conclusion.”

Students from Clear Lake, Superior, Hayward, Rhinelander and Medford attended the March. High school senior Maria Novak, Clear Lake, marched for the second time, this year joined by her sister, ninth-grader Julia Novak.

“For me, a particularly impacting event on the trip was being able to march with thousands of people at once. It was like thousands of little flames joining together to start a fire; and yet, we were not coming together to destroy, rather, we came there out of love,” Maria said.

“I would have to say one of the biggest things that impacted me on this journey was being able to hear one of the other student’s testimony,” added Julia. “It felt so real, the way he described what he was feeling and how one person really did save his life. I was also quite touched by the Holocaust Museum. I knew about the Holocaust, but to hear people’s stories and to relate it to abortion was very powerful.”

“It was such a privilege to spend so much time building relationships with a bunch of the young people that went from around the diocese,” Hurtubise said. “Their pro-life passion is so beautifully rooted in their love for Christ and His love all of His children.

“I loved how earnestly they all entered into the pilgrimage aspect of the trip: sacrificing their own comfort (and sleep!) and genuinely and enthusiastically participating in spiritual components, from the liturgy of the hours and daily Mass to adoration and confession,” he added. “It was really inspiring for me.”