‘Virtual’ March for Life still a special experience for Peoria Notre Dame group

Some members of the Peoria Notre Dame Teens for Life group take a turn walking on the school track on Jan. 29 in solidarity with those at the national March for Life in Washington, D.C., and local observances around the nation. (Provided photo)

Owen Lynch had made three pilgrimages to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., and the senior at Peoria Notre Dame doubted a virtual experience in the high school gym could measure up.

Isaac Strickler, a senior at Peoria Notre Dame High School, urges younger members of the Teens for Life group to continue “fighting for the basic human rights that are granted by God,” beginning with the right to life. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

He was proven wrong.

“It’s not what we hoped for, but I think this has been as special, if not more special, than any other march I’ve been on,” said Lynch, one of nine students to give witness talks at the close of the Jan. 29 virtual experience. About 40 members of Peoria Notre Dame’s Teens for Life group watched rallies and concerts from the nation’s capital on a big screen. They also participated in their own Mass, adoration, rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet and confessions, and took turns marching outside around the school track.

Normally, Catholic high schools and Newman Centers in the Diocese of Peoria send busloads of pilgrims each January to the national March for Life and its related activities. The pandemic kept them at home this year, but did not silence their voices and prayers seeking an end to abortion and in defense of the dignity of all human life.

“Thank you for standing for life, for being here, for your prayers, and for being that voice in our school and world today that is much needed,” said Sister Lucia Marie Sol, SCTJM, moderator of the Peoria Notre Dame Teens for Life.

“We hope next year we can take three buses again to D.C., but in the end may the will of God be done,” she told the group. “I think today was a very powerful day.”

Father Corey Krengiel, chaplain of Peoria Notre Dame, blesses members of the Teens for Life group at the close of their Jan. 29 virtual March for Life experience at the school. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

The seniors in the group encouraged the younger students to continue to band together and to look forward to future pilgrimages to the national march.

“We have a very strong pro-life community here and I hope all of you realize that,” said Nathan Dunn, the first of the seniors to speak. “We care for each other in Teens for Life, so don’t ever let that go — that bond, that love, those memories.”

Maddi Cave, co-president of Teens for Life with her sister Maci, especially encouraged the freshmen who have yet to attend a national march to have the experience.

“You will realize we’re not as much in the minority as some try to make us think we are,” she said.

While the virtual march at the school was a “brand new experience,” said Maci Cave, “I think this is one of the most amazing ones I’ve had yet. This is a powerful group of people.”

Father Corey Krengiel, chaplain, agreed.

“I have hope for the future of America, for the culture of life in our country, because of you,” he told the group before closing the day with a blessing.

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