Conditions were mild at March for Life

Participants in the 2016 March for Life in Washington, D.C., turned out in the thousands despite threats of snow and a blizzard warning for the area. Photo courtesy of Dominic Borchers

Despite the impending winter weather and blizzard threat over the D.C. metro region, a few individuals in the area were able to make it to the 43rd annual March for Life last Friday.

Buses meant to take parishioners from local Catholic churches and Christendom College in Front Royal decided not to risk the approaching conditions, but many who were determined to go drove in themselves.

Christendom senior Dominic Borchers said he left for the march with two friends from New York at 9 a.m., prepared to leave once they started to see significant snowfall. He said the snow began just when the march kicked off at 1 p.m., and his group was able to drive back after the march but before conditions became serious – only fishtailing a few times on the return journey.

Borchers said he knew of around 20 Christendom students whoat were able to make the drive and that he wasn’t aware of anyone from the school who ended up stuck in the city. Having attended three marches in the past, he said attendance numbers were down from years past, but still impressive.

“It was neat to still just see thousands upon thousands of people there, regardless of the fact that there was this blizzard warning there,” he said. “I think we’re kind of united in the fact that it was not an easy drive to D.C. or an easy drive back home, but we were committed to be there. You had to really, really consider going to it because it was possibly dangerous.”

Back in Front Royal, Christendom students who stayed behind prayed for march participants and Borchers said friends updated him on conditions coming through.

The Rev. Kevin Beres, parochial vicar at St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Front Royal, said the bus company that would’ve taken parishioners to the march decided to cancel plans on Thursday. The church held Mass at 9:30 a.m. and a holy hour from 11 to 10 a.m.

After Mass, St. John the Baptist parishioner Stuart Nolan set off for the march with five other passengers in his minivan: his children and their friends, members of scouting organizations Trail Life USA and American Heritage Girls. He also said they were able to make it to the march and leave before conditions became dicey and ended up with two more passengers for the return journey – one other march attendee who would’ve been stuck in the city and a driver who had totaled his car heading east on Interstate 66.

Keeping a safe speed on the near-deserted roads in the snow, he said he was able to make it back home by 6:30 p.m. with no major scares.

“Conditions weren’t really awful…the roads started to becoming a little tricky when we hit Markham on the way back,” he said. “We got home just in time for the snow to really start falling.”

According to the Rev. Steve Clifford, deacon at St. John Bosco Catholic Church in Woodstock, parishioners decided to play it safe by staying in at home and praying at the 8:30 a.m. Mass for Life.

Youth leaders from the church traveled with parish staff and other adults to the Catholic Diocese of Arlington’s “Life is VERY Good” evening of prayer and morning rally on Thursday and Friday at George Mason University. Rather than continue onto the march on Friday, the group returned to Woodstock as a cautionary measure.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com