Students receive blessing before pilgrimage

A group of Assumption High School students and members of their family were among those who attended a Pilgrimage for Life Mass Jan. 18 at St. Gabriel Church on Bardstown Road. Following the Mass and a blessing, the students boarded a bus where they traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the annual national March for Life. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

Student pilgrims gathered for Mass the evening of Jan. 18 at St. Gabriel Church — with suitcases, blankets and pillows in tow — before boarding a bus to Washington, D.C., where they said their voices are still needed on the issue of abortion.

Father Jithin Kalan, associate pastor of St. Gabriel, celebrated the Mass and gave them a blessing before heading to the national March for Life.

Though the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade — the landmark decision that legalized abortion 50 years ago — and made abortion a state-level issue, the students said it was important to attend the national March for Life Jan. 20.

Michael Johnson, a senior at Trinity High School, said this was his second trip to D.C. for the March for Life. Johnson said he wanted to return this year because he was concerned that not as many students would attend because of the recent court decision.

“I wanted to show that it’s still important to go and pray and hopefully have my voice heard,” Johnson said.

Maryanna Cockerel, a senior at Assumption High School, said she’d attended the march before and the experience was “very impactful.”

“This year it’s especially important to be able to (attend and) educate the other girls at school and in my life, about women in crisis pregnancies,” said Cockerel, who serves as president of the school’s Respect Life Club. With Roe v. Wade now overturned, she noted, it’s important to support women experiencing a crisis pregnancy.

Stuart Hamilton, pro-life activities coordinator for the Archdiocese of Louisville, spoke to the student pilgrims following Mass Jan. 18 at St. Gabriel Church. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

Maryanna’s mother, Tara Durbin, participated in the Mass but did not travel to D.C. Durbin said she’s grateful to the Archdiocese of Louisville and to Assumption High School for providing opportunities for her daughter to take a stand for life.

“I’ve tried to teach her to stand up for causes that matter to her,” Durbin said.

Two of Cockerel’s Assumption schoolmates traveled with her. Brinkley Todd, a sophomore, said “I wanted to go because I believe all life has value and I wanted to fight for a good cause.”

Emma Hicks, a junior, said she had attended the march one other time. “It’s a really impactful experience and it’s a great opportunity to get to stand up for life.”

Stuart Hamilton, who serves as pro-life activities coordinator for the Archdiocese of Louisville, served as the bus captain for the students who traveled to D.C. Hamilton spoke to the young pilgrims following Mass telling them it’s important they “speak for the unborn.”

“This pilgrimage is about finding compassion in us for every human life lost to abortion,” said Hamilton. He said the nation’s capital has various places — such as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum — that have documented the “way life has been denigrated in the past.” He urged the students to visit this museum and others like it while on this pilgrimage.

He also asked the congregation to pray for those who would be taking part in the annual local Walk for Life Jan. 20 to show solidarity with the event in D.C.

Twenty-five students boarded the bus from St. Gabriel Church and a group of about 75 from Immaculata Classical Academy traveled separately and would meet the others in D.C., he said.

Young pilgrims, including Assumption High School parents and students, including Brinkley Todd (second from left), Emma Hicks, center, and Maryanna Cockerel, shared a laugh while getting ready to board the bus taking them to Washington, D.C., Jan. 18. (Record Photo by Ruby Thomas)

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