Story and photos by Gregory A. Shemitz
Ominous weather forecasts predicting a blizzard of historic proportions heading toward Washington and its surrounding areas prompted the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s Respect Life Office to cancel its events at Friday’s March for Life. Parish pro-life ministries across Long Island also decided against making the bus trip to this year’s march, which marked the 43rd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the U.S.
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Groups from three local high schools, Holy Trinity (Hicksville) and St. John the Baptist (West Islip) Diocesan High Schools and Kellenberg Memorial H.S. (Uniondale), did manage to make the pilgrimage to Washington, arriving in the city on Thursday.
Father Nicholas Zientarski, a diocesan priest and dean of students at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, led a group of 87 seminarians, including 12 from Rockville Centre, to Washington, also arriving on Thursday. The seminarians participated in the opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Thursday night. See photos here. On Friday, they attended a Mass celebrated by New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan at a parish in Maryland before returning home ahead of the storm.
Holy Trinity and St. John the Baptist High Schools traveled together on one bus to D.C., with each school represented by 22 students, three chaperones and a chaplain. The group attended the annual pro-life youth rally and Mass at the Verizon Center on Friday morning before the March and then departed early for Long Island.
Meanwhile, 47 juniors from Kellenberg Memorial High School were escorted by six moderators to Washington. The group toured the nation’s capital on Thursday evening and visited the Basilica on Friday morning. Marianist Father Thomas Cardone, the school chaplain, celebrated Mass for the students in the Basilica’s Chapel of Our Lady of the Missions. Kellenberg graduates currently enrolled at Catholic University were also present at the liturgy. Electing to avoid travel issues related to the weather, Kellenberg returned to Uniondale before the March for Life commenced.
On Long Island, many parishes that canceled their pilgrimages to Washington hosted alternative events, including Mass, Eucharistic Adoration and the recitation of the rosary, on Friday.
Photos by Gregory A. Shemitz except where indicated.