Last Wednesday morning, 20 Pope John XXIII Central Catholic students anxiously watched their phones and email. They were waiting to hear if they were going to be able to make their pilgrimage to Washington D.C. to participate in the March for Life. The students were planning on traveling to Norfolk to join with other area students on a charter bus headed east. Unfortunately, their plans to travel across the country to defend life were cancelled due to the 10+ inches of snow that fell in the area on Tuesday and Wednesday. Many of the students remembered their trip in 2016, during which they were stranded on the Pennsylvania Interstate for 20 hours due to snow.
Trip Chaperones, Becky (Steve) Kerkman of Elgin and Sandy (Chris) Moser of Clearwater, along with Bus Captain Terry Reicks of Elgin and Father Kevin Vogel of St. Boniface/St. Bonaventure parishes decided to do what they could to be there in spirit and explain why being a pilgrim is often a challenging task. They planned a 3-day retreat at Tintern Retreat & Resource Center near Oakdale for the marchers. The retreat gave the students an opportunity to still be able to prayerfully defend life. The retreat started with all of the students and adult chaperones writing down their frustrations and disappointments about the canceled trip, burning them and handing them over to God.
The group had daily Mass, Reconciliation, prayed the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet. They also gathered around a big screen television to watch the March live in Washington D.C. as it was happening. Students spent time together playing games, sledding, building snow sculptures and writing messages in the snow.
Pope John junior Sydney Kerkman summed up her experience, “This retreat was really inspiring to all of us who went, and we came to learn that you can turn a disappointment into something great. God’s plan is always better than our own plans. ”