Editor’s Note: Briana Monsalve, a junior at Bishop Dunne Catholic School and member of the Texas Catholic Youth Advisory Board, traveled to Washington, D.C. Jan. 21-25 to attend the national March for Life and Rally. She chronicled her trip in a journal, which she has shared with TexasCatholicYouth.com.
We left Holy Spirit Catholic Church this afternoon at 3:30. After talking on the bus for a while and settling in, we played icebreaker games around 5 o’clock. Many of the teens had never attended the trip before, and they were very excited. At 7, we stopped in Texarkana to eat dinner. When we got back on the bus at 8, we prayed the evening Liturgy of the Hours. It was a beautiful thing to hear 40 people from different ends of the city to pray as we journeyed to fight for a common cause. After the prayer we had the opportunity to listen to each person reveal their motive for coming on the trip, and their thoughts about the trip in general. We then watched a 7 minute video that revealed the true evil of abortion and why there is such a need for it to stop. Once we visited a little while longer, we watched the movie – To Save a Life, which very accurately shows the importance of every life. Now it’s 10:30 — lights out!
We woke up at 7 on the bus – oh what a painful sleep! We stopped for Breakfast in Nashville, Tennessee. We loaded the bus at 8 and it was back on the road! First, we prayed the morning Liturgy of the Hours, and then the rosary. For the rest of the morning, we had visiting time on the bus. At 12:30, we stopped to eat lunch, then at 1, we continued our travels! We prayed the midday Liturgy of the Hours and continued to visit and talk about the trip. Six and half long hours later, we arrived into Chantilly, Virginia. We finally arrived to our host parish at 7. Once we unloaded, and claimed our sleeping spots, we graciously accepted dinner from the St. Thomas community. We made our sack lunches for the next two days and waited for our bus to return. From there, we took a mini bus tour into D.C. and saw the Washington monument and the Capital Building. Finally, after praying the evening Liturgy of the Hours, we arrived back to our temporary homes at 9:30. We’re all ready for bed now, its 10, and its lights out!
At 6 o’clock, the alarm went off and we started a new day! After praying the morning Liturgy of the Hours, the first thing on our agenda was to drive to the Catholic University and take a much needed shower. At 10, we loaded onto the bus and rode to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. We ate in the Basilica’s dining room and visited with each other. At 12:00, we all took a group picture at the front of the Basilica and left to catch the subway. We rode the subway to the Smithsonian Metro and were given one of three options: we could take the walking tour of the National memorials, go to the Holocaust Museum, or visit one of the three Smithsonian Museums. At 3:30, each group returned, and we took the subway back to Union Station. At Union Station, we ate dinner until it was time for the bus to pick us back up. Once we boarded back on the bus, we traveled to the Hylton Memorial Chapel back in Woodbridge, Virginia. When we got there, we waited for the doors to open at 6. Once, we were inside, we waited for the Sunday mass to start. There were 4,500 Catholics in the Chapel! There were seminarians, religious sisters, priests, deacon, and bishops all together with youth to celebrate the Eucharist. Once Mass had ended we anxiously waited for the Matt Maher Rally for Life concert. We rallied and sang to his amazing concert—hundreds of youth all singing and dancing together for one special cause. After his remarkable concert, we reconvened and prepared ourselves for the Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. While we prayed and adored the Eucharist, Reconciliation was simultaneously taking place. After we concluded the service, we got back on the bus at 10:30.
At 5:30 in the morning, we woke up, and packed everything for our trip back home. At 6:15, we reloaded the bus and then left the parish for the last time at 6:30. After praying the morning Liturgy of the Hours, we rode the hour bus ride to the DC Armory. We arrived to the Armory and rallied with 4,500 youth for Life. After the rally we all celebrated a Mass for Life. Once the celebration ended, we ate our lunch in the building and headed out to the catch the subway. We rode the subway that brought us in close proximity to the national mall. We walked to the mall at 12:30, and rallied until the march began. At 1, we began marching around the national mall. We chanted and sang, prayed the rosary and met youth from all over the country—even Canada! We carried our Texas banner and our Texas flags all the way to the capital. It was amazing to see thousands upon thousands of people fighting for the unborn. Once we circled around, we boarded the bus at 4 and began our journey back home. We spoke about the amazing rally and reflected on what we saw and how we felt. We bonded and grew closer to one another as we learned more and more. At 6:30, we stopped in Strausburg, Virginia for dinner and a stretch break. Then, it was back on the bus! We continued on into the evening, and after praying the evening Liturgy of the Hours, we watched the movie Bella and at 10:30, its lights out!
We woke up for the last time on the bus at 8. We stopped in Tennessee for breakfast, and then boarded again at 9. At 9, we prayed the morning Liturgy of the Hours, and traveled until we stopped for lunch at noon. Once we finished eating, we boarded the bus for the last time! After visiting with each other, and praying the midday Liturgy of the Hours for the last time, we pulled into the Holy Spirit parking lot at 4! We unloaded, said our long goodbyes, and went our separate ways.
The Youth Stand for Life is a pilgrimage. What was thought to be simply a trip is actually pilgrimage. It is a pilgrimage that strengthens one’s faith in every way possible. Traveling on a bus that is seemingly painstakingly long cleanses and prepares one’s mind much better than one travels in an airplane to the next air port. Praying every day in the morning, afternoon, and evening directs our hearts to God, and reminds us that there is a reason we are here. Traveling through three states, traffic, winding roads, and walking in and out through the cold is nothing compared to the cause we all came together to fight. It is no accident that we learn about ourselves, our country, and our full capacity in the span of 5 days. Something greater is at hand; God’s grace guides us over the course of the trip to not only fight for the voices that have been silenced, but to awaken the voices that have been sent to this earth and used as instruments of His love. The profound power Catholics have when we come together to fight for such a cause is inspiring and mind-blowing. 4,500 youth attend a mass to fight for the lives that have been unjustly taken. Rallying and marching alongside at least a quarter of a million Catholic and Christian brothers and sisters is an inspiration to become an active participant in causes that are unjust. My faith has been forever changed.
For more coverage of the March for Life, visit TexasCatholicTV.com.