STEUBENVILLE,- Just after midnight Friday, hundreds of Franciscan University of Steubenville students will board buses and travel through the night to Washington, D.C., to witness and pray during the 40th annual March for Life.
"More than ever before it is important for Americans to see that those committed to life are not discouraged or demoralized in the fight for life," said the Rev. Terence Henry, T.O.R., Franciscan University president. "God, the source of life itself, will help us to stand up to a culture of death that seeks to undermine the foundations of our country and our Judeo-Christian heritage."
Seven buses will transport the students, while hundreds of other students and Franciscan University alumni, many with their families or parish youth group, will also participate.
The students will start the day at the Solemn Mass for Life at 7:30 a.m. at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
They will then join hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers at the rally at the National Mall.
The march will immediately follow, as pro-lifers walk up Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court Building on Capitol Hill, the site of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
As he has every year since becoming president in 2000 Henry will lead the Franciscan contingent, 800 strong, under the emerald Franciscan University banner that proclaims, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you... Before you were born, I dedicated you. "
"Franciscan students are here as role models," said Alex Swetz, a sophomore theology and pre-catechetics major, and president of Franciscan University's Students for Life. "We are blessed with a university environment that fosters the Christian values needed to approach the pro-life movement with the love it needs while standing firm in the truth."
"When you see thousands of pro-life youth flooding stadiums, churches, and streets of Washington, D.C., it gives you hope," adds Grace Daigler, a junior social work major and vice president of Franciscan University's Students for Life.
The following day, a contingent of Franciscan University students will attend the Students for Life of America National Conference where they will network with pro-life organizations and leaders.