Carlos Rueda '20 has earnestly participated in the annual March for Life every year of high school. Year 4 at the March for Life for Rueda occurred on January 24, when he was among dozens of Jesuit Pro-Life Club students who were among the hundreds of thousands to make the annual march from the National Mall to the Supreme Court in support of the rights of the unborn.
With the experience of those four years, Rueda is excited by the progress he has been a part of.
"This year felt really special because everybody was actively participating in every activity," Rueda said. "There was good conversation about the movement, everybody wanting to be involved, everybody wanting to bring the energy back to Tampa."
The 2020 March for Life marked its 47th year, since the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling concerning abortion. Led by school president Fr. Richard C. Hermes, S.J. and Pro-Life Club moderator Nathan Doerr, it was Jesuit's 12th straight year of participation and part of an incredible four-day pilgrimage for the 51 Jesuit students.
On Day 1 (Wed. Jan. 22) the group flew into D.C., prayed at Planned Parenthood, visited the National Archives, and celebrated Mass at Dahlgren Chapel at Georgetown University.
Day 2 included a visit to the U.S. Supreme Court and visit with Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a visit to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, celebrating the Mass for the Unborn, and dinner in Chinatown.
Day 3 – the day of the march – began with a visit to the St. Matthew's Cathedral, the seat of the Archdiocese of Washington, where they had a forum with fellows from the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Then they gathered with hundreds of thousands at the National Mall for the Rally for the Unborn before embarking on the March for Life to the U.S. Supreme Court, where they listened to Silent No More testimonies.
On the final day, Day 4, they visited the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America and celebrated Mass in Blessed Sacrament Chapel before traveling to Baltimore and flying back to Tampa.
"The fact that it was my last one as a Jesuit student made it personally special, and I tried to soak it all up and focus on the little things between the big events," Rueda said. "It gave me a new appreciation for everything that goes into it, all of the planning and details."
Rueda, who is an officer with the Pro-Life Club, was particularly moved by the numerous testimonials of his classmates on the final night in D.C.
"It was really heartfelt and vulnerable," Rueda said. "At first the seniors speak, then it opens up to everybody, anyone who wants to speak can. Some freshman and sophomores spoke really well and gave me a lot of excitement for the future. It shows a side to your peers that typically you don't see, that doesn't come up in normal conversation and day-to-day life."
The Jesuit contingent connected with students from other Jesuit schools while in D.C., among them Jesuit New Orleans and Strake Jesuit in Houston, and renewed friendships from past marches.
"Seeing all the people who march every year, it gave me that positive reinforcement," Rueda said. "There's a whole great community across the country behind this movement. Just seeing all the people there to support the same cause is really inspiring."
View a photo slideshow from the March for Life 2020 below: