By Lisa Bourne
The 39th March for Life will take place January 23, 2012.
The time to sign up for the annual trip to the March with Iowans for LIFE is now.
Often called a pilgrimage, making the trip to the March with the pro-life organization is not only a way to be heard and connect with hundreds of thousands of others in support of life, it also offers firsthand experience of the Spring of youth that continues to pass through and bolster the pro-life movement.
Ignored nearly in its entirety by the media, the March for Life is the annual pro-life exclamation point in Washington DC, and the Iowa pro-life community does its part with busloads traveling to take part, including many of those young people the media won’t show you.
West Des Moines resident Sydney Bishop made her first trip to the march last year in eighth grade. With most of the young people on the trip being in high school she was on the young side, but she comes from a family that’s very active in supporting life.
Parents Bo and Jeane have made the trip, as have most of her siblings. It is one of many things the family does in support of the life issue.
Despite her prior familiarity, the march was still somewhat of an unknown for Sydney Bishop ahead of time.
“First of all I wanted to go to defend human life,” she said. “But I couldn’t quite grasp being there with 300,000 other people who were all in this together, to experience that whole thing.”
It ended up being powerful for her.
When Sydney Bishop returned to her local parochial school some of her classmates asked why she’d missed school. She had some educating to do, as they didn’t know about the march, and she made the most of the opportunity to evangelize about life.
“They thought it was really cool,” Sydney Bishop said. “And they wanted to know more about it.”
Having then been there herself, she also fully “got” the media bias of the March coverage after seeing the national news publication in their hotel the morning after the march.
“It was buried on the third page with a little blurb, and just a picture of the few protestors of the March,” said Sydney Bishop. “So many people were there for life, so many faith traditions and so many backgrounds represented, and that’s what was printed.”
The march experience has further helped Sydney Bishop to be one more young witness for life.
“It was cool to see high school kids being gutsy with their message,” she said. “We were willing to do this for a greater cause.”
“I’m now going to have to be someone that shows younger kids, this is how we stand up for our faith,” Sydney Bishop continued. “We did it openly, and faithfully and peacefully. I really know my responsibility.”
Older brother Luke Bishop is making his fourth trip to the march this year.
Another product of his parent’s enduring pro-life witness, high school junior Luke Bishop is in leadership in the pro-life student group at his diocesan school.
“This year especially I feel like now is my time to lead my classmates,” he said. “Now I can help show people this great pilgrimage.”
Like his sister, he was influenced by his family, but wanted to experience the giant pro-life mobilization in the nation’s capital for himself.
Going into his fourth trip, he recollects that each is different from the ones before, with varying degrees of personal plusses.
His example of a trial is the sacrifice of being exhausted at the same time there’s the kid who won’t stop talking loudly in the back of the bus at three a.m.
“Either way, you’re still there because you support the unborn,” Luke Bishop said.
“Mass becomes more of a personal ritual, time to reflect on your personal beliefs,” he added.
Like his sister, Luke was profoundly moved in his early Marches by walking alongside throngs of others in support of the pro-life cause.
“It’s definitely a worthwhile experience,” said Luke Bishop. “It’ll strengthen your own pro-life beliefs.”
“Don’t be afraid to try it.” Sydney Bishop said. “Don’t be afraid to tell your friends you’re doing it.”
Luke Bishop added a most important perspective in how the March for Life factors in to the fight for life.
“It’s gives you hope and courage.”
Registrations received By Iowans For LIFE before 11/1/11 secure a spot on the bus and accommodations, and registrations will be taken after 11/1 until the buses are full.
Contact Maggie DeWitte at 515-255-4113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Thanks to Lisa Bourne for contributing this article to Quiner’s Diner.]