Three weeks ago, I traveled to Washington, D.C. with over 300 people from Boston, mostly young people, for the Annual March for Life, where hundreds of thousands gathered as witnesses to the sacredness of human life beginning in the womb. This well-organized, peaceful, joyful March through the streets of our nation’s capital was to remind all of us that every human life is of the greatest importance.
It was overwhelmingly joyful walking among these young people – the vast majority of whom were middle school, high school, and college age – as they were publicly bearing witness to their Christian faith. Throughout our time together, there were numerous opportunities for them to go deeper into their Catholic faith. Conversation after conversation revealed that many young people are asking questions, seeking answers, and struggling at times, but continually searching for more.
In their honesty, they shared that they are a generation yearning for love, real love, gospel love. They each can share in their own words that they don’t always know or believe that GOD the Father loves them, that Jesus Christ is alive and present in the world or that there is a Divine plan for their life that will make them happy. Their sincerity reveals that when a personal relationship with Jesus is not nurtured by parents, priests or caring adults in their lives, the negative cultural influences of doubt and anxiety begin to set in, and they lose hope.
In just three days together, the youth were introduced to the love of the Heavenly Father and the possibilities of knowing Jesus and His plan for their lives. They were invited to consider the possibility of living their lives with purpose and gratitude. They were inspired to ‘not be afraid’ of living pure and heroic lives with great courage and conviction. These hope-filled encounters with GOD were fostered through simple celebrations of daily Mass with homilies directed to their life circumstances, time for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Confession, beautiful praise and worship music that moved the heart to ponder how much the Lord really loves them, and countless opportunities to learn more about their faith through the many great adults who accompanied them, including those at Life Fest, a three-hour dynamic program created by the Sisters of Life and sponsored by the Knights of Columbus.
There were also plenty of times for the development of fraternal friendships through fun, interactive games that allowed them to simply be themselves in incredibly safe ways. Most of all, though, it was the times of sharing, when the young people were invited to reveal to their peers what the LORD had done for them in just 72 hours together. The many adults accompanying them heard how these young hearts were touched, converted, built-up, and filled with hope for the future and so, felt greatly ‘rewarded’ for their months of planning, for giving up three of their days, and for taking time away from family.
For those of us who knew little Christina Dangond, the inspiration of Build the Faith, and her incredible Catholic faith, we begin to look forward in hope, for not all is lost for the next generation. Christina’s deep trust in GOD helped her to not only live several years longer than any doctor thought possible, but she became a tremendous intercessor for her own peers, who are now entering into the challenging years of life. We need only recall her precious words, “Jesus, I Trust in YOU!” and we will join a new generation of believers who will change the world. Let us pray for our young people, accompany them on their journey to know the LORD, and praise GOD because He is Building the Faith, one young person at a time.
P.S. If you have never been to the Annual March for Life, I definitely recommend you consider it next year!
Fr. Ed was ordained to the priesthood in May 2000 for the Archdiocese of Boston. He held three different parish assignments in the Archdiocese from 2000-2010 before his appointment to the Faculty of Saint John’s Seminary, where he was Dean of Men and Director of Pastoral Formation from 2010-2022. Fr. Ed is currently the Administrator of Sacred Heart Parish in Waltham, MA and Spiritual Director & Liaison for the Office for Homeschooling of the Archdiocese of Boston. He is the Spiritual Director for the World Apostolate of Fatima in the Archdiocese and a perpetually professed member of the Institute of Jesus the Priest of the Pauline Family.