January 28, 2016 by lmorgan · Comments Off
Snow and ice. Twenty-three pilgrims from Pope John XXIII Central Catholic High School were greeted with more snow and ice when they returned home Monday from an odyssey which would have made Homer proud.
They, and their adult sponsors, joined pro-life supporters from across the country last week to participate in the annual March for Life held in Washington, D.C.
On Tuesday, January 19, 23 students and four sponsors from Pope John XXIII Central Catholic High School in Elgin loaded a charter bus in Norfolk to join others in the Archdiocese of Omaha on the March for Life.
The March took place on Friday, Jan. 22, the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade verdict. In 28-degree weather and a winter storm bearing down on the East Coast, they marched down Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court building, joining Catholics, Protestants and other faiths who are pro-life.
The mission of the March for Life is to provide all Americans with a place to testify to the beauty of life and the dignity of each human person. In January, each year the March brings together pro-life leaders and groups to organize, unite and strategize around a common message, and to communicate this message to the government, the media and the nation in a way that is powerful and life affirming.
For Pope John senior Terri Seier, this marked the second year she has participated in the march.
“The previous year there were a lot more people because a lot of people had to turn back because of the snow. It was still just as powerful … My favorite part of the march was, towards the front of the Omaha Archdiocese line, they were saying the Rosary and there were tons of people, even people who weren’t part of the archdiocese, saying the Rosary. It was very powerful.”
Pope John students have been doing this for a number of years, being excused from school for several days, then returning home. This year was different, very, very different.
Wary of the snowstorm which would ultimately dump more than two-feet of snow in places like Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York as well as the District of Columbia, they boarded an Arrow bus and headed west. Three hours west of Washington, D.C., along the Pennsylvania Turnpike between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the bus stopped Friday evening and stayed there well into Saturday.
Steve Kerkman, one of the adult sponsors on the trip, himself making his third pilgrimage, said he heard semi-trailer trucks couldn’t make it up a hill on the turnpike and that started a chain-reaction.
Pope John’s pilgrims were stranded with no place to go until help arrived, not just for them but for hundreds of vehicles in the same situation. So began an event, not of their own choosing, but one which they embraced and made the best of the moment. To bide the time in the bus, students played card games, went outside the bus and made snow angels, did just about anything they could to make the time pass until help arrived.
“They were upbeat, warm and safe with plenty of water and snacks,” Kerkman told The Elgin Review Saturday morning, having been in the stopped bus for over 13 hours.
This was an event where social media exploded, not just for Pope John students but others on the turnpike as well. Students took to their phones to alert their parents, family and friends of their ordeal.
Near noon on Saturday, over 500 pilgrims participated in an outdoor Mass. One bus group built an altar out of snow. As word spread around, one priest had 300 hosts and offered to celebrate Mass. Soon there were six priests and 500 people at the Mass, Catholics and Protestants praying together.
Around 4 p.m. Saturday, the bus was moving again. It was turned around and went looking for another route. They ended up at a truck stop near Bedford, PA., and a motel was found.
Just after 11 a.m. on Sunday, parents learned that the bus was headed west again and would arrive in Norfolk sometime late Monday morning.
A group of parents were present when the bus arrived to take their children home.
As the students exited the Arrow bus, they looked tired, but happy to be home. If one could sum up their expression, they all looked like they just wanted to go home.
Summing up the feelings of all just moments after stepping off the bus in Norfolk Monday morning, Seier said, “I’m really glad to be home.”
Pope John students participating were Nicole Beckman, Karissa Dicke, Scott Moser, Terri Seier, Whitney Walker-Moore, Erin Beckman, Brody Hupp, Shantel Priester, Miles Schrage, Emily Seier, Heather Bauer, Taralyn Baum, Maddie Dilly, Grace Henn, Sydney Kerkman, Marie Meis, Paige Meis, Lizzy Mlnarik, Cameron Nielson, Nicki Payne, Wenting Yu, Maddie Schrage and Lauren Seier. Trip sponsors were Terry Reicks, Steve Kerkman, Gini Seier and Tami Schrage.
The Wolfpack boys find themselves as the number 9 seed in the upcoming NVC tournament. They will play #8 seed North Central in the first round this Saturday, Jan. 30 at 6 pm at the Elgin Public gymnasium.
The Wolfpack girls go into the NVC Conference as the number 4 seed, matching up against the 13th seeded Neligh-Oakdale team. First round game will be played at the Elgin Public gymnasium with a 2:30 pm tipoff.
Here are the brackets for the tournament games being played Friday evening and throughout Saturday at the St. Boniface Auditorium.
January 23, 2016 by lmorgan · Comments Off
The annual March for Life rally in Washington D.C. is always an adventure for youth. This year, that adventure went one step further with the bus load of students from the Omaha Diocese getting stranded in “snow-mageddon”. This bus includes the twenty-three Pope John XXIII Central Catholic students and four adult sponsors from the Elgin area.
On Friday, the students joined counterparts of all faiths from across the country in the March for Life held in DC. Immediately after the march ended, they boarded theirs buses to head home, hopping to beat the anticipated heavy snowfall. They became stranded between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on the interstate. According to adult sponsor (on the bus) Steve Kerkman, “we heard there are jack-knifed semis and buried cars ahead (on the interstate). I’m seeing some cars coming back on our side, they may be the ones that were stuck.” Early today, Kerkman sent this photo and said, “We’ve been sitting still for thirteen hours. Everyone is upbeat. We are warm, safe and have plenty of snacks. As of noon today (Saturday) they are still sitting but believe they we be able to begin moving soon. The Elgin Review will continue to update you on a regular basis via twitter (@theelginreview) and facebook (Elgin Review).