A group of Marquette students arrived back in Milwaukee on Jan. 25 after being stranded in Washington D.C. following the arrival of winter storm Jonas on the east coast.
The 16 students spent last week in the nation’s capitol to participate in a March For Life demonstration. The group, sponsored by Campus Ministry and Marquette Students for Life, originally planned to fly home on Saturday and Sunday but flights were canceled due to the storm. Eventually, they flew back at 3:35 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Monday.
Campus Ministry’s Administrative Assistant Ann Hilbert was with the students and in touch with Marquette’s travel agent to coordinate the new flights and hotel stays.
Sarah Huber, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and president of Marquette Students for Life, said the travel delay allowed the group to strengthen their bonds with each other.
“We have found ways to entertain ourselves including spending nights around the hotel piano singing, playing out in the snow – including a snowball fight after mass and sledding by the Capitol Building – and joining together in some of the most powerful prayer any of us have ever experienced,” Huber said in an email.
Emily Kesler, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the delayed travel plans presented the group with the opportunity to bond in their hotel and have conversations about their commitment to the pro-life movement.
“We knew we had no control over the weather and the airport so we knew we couldn’t change when we could leave,” Kesler said. “It was a little disheartening to miss an extra day of classes on Monday but we are grateful for the opportunity to have such an amazing group to be with.”
Steve Blaha, assistant director of Campus Ministry, said the unexpected storm is one reason why the group calls their March for Life trip a pilgrimage.
“Part of the experience is, how does a group embrace moments of discomfort to learn more about themselves, their relationship with God and the work of justice,” Blaha said. “Working for justice is never easy.”
Huber said the group took the inconvenience well because they had good attitudes about it.
“It was worth being stuck in D.C. to have the opportunity to stand up for life in a very real, tangible way,” Huber said. “It was worth being stuck here to get to know the people who we encountered on the pilgrimage including the wonderful hotel staff, the nice woman who helped us pay for a meal and, most importantly, each other.”
Pro-life supporters have gathered annually on the National Mall to peacefully protest abortion since 1974. The march takes place around the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case legalizing abortion.
During the pilgrimage, students also attended the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine, the Jesuit Pro-Life Network Mass at St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church and the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life at Georgetown University.