For 16 years, the students of Thomas Aquinas College have made the annual, 375-mile trek to San Francisco, where they have participated in each and every Walk for Life West Coast. This year, for the first, time, the College’s students also participated in the National March for Life in Washington, D.C., thanks to the opening of Thomas Aquinas College, New England, last fall.
Last Thursday evening, every available student on the New England campus boarded a coach bus to embark on the 400-mile, seven-hour journey to the nation’s capital. First, however, they made a quick stop at Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in nearby Turners Falls, where they fortified themselves spiritually with Adoration, Confession, and Mass. They then continued on their way, arriving in Washington early the next morning.
At 7:30, the students — joined by several tutors, administrators, alumni, and members of the local Board of Regents — made their way to the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception for the Closing Mass of the 2020 National Prayer Vigil for Life. The College then hosted a breakfast for friends in the area at The Catholic University of America, after which the group took the Metro to the National Mall for the Rally and March for Life.
Upbeat and joyful, albeit underslept, the College’s students cast an outsized impression. They could be seen singing and praying all along the Mall, easily identified by their crimson TAC ski hats. “I think it’s really important for us to be here,” freshman Niamh McCann told a reporter for EWTN News. “It’s good to show that there are people who are learning and who are seeking the truth, and that this is what we find: that life is precious and worth protecting. And so we are here to show that today.”
Newcomers to the East Coast, the College’s students found themselves graciously welcomed throughout the day. “Thomas Aquinas College’s New England campus is very likely the only college in Massachusetts where virtually the entire student body and faculty is attending the March for Life,” remarked Thomas W. Carroll, Secretary of Education and Superintendent of Schools for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. “Their level of commitment to the Catholic faith is an inspiration.” The Cardinal Newman Society likewise described the College’s first-time participation in the March as a “historic day for Thomas Aquinas College in New England and great news for the pro-life cause!”
Of course, 2020 marked only the first time that the College’s students took part in the March. Alumni, faculty, and other friends have participated for years, marching under the banner of the Board of Regents. A regular presence at past marches was Col. Paul W. White, M.D. (’95), Consultant to the U.S. Surgeon General for Vascular Surgery. Deployed to the Middle East, Dr. White wasn’t able to make this year’s March. “I’m praying for an end to abortion with everyone marching,” he wrote in an encouraging note to this year’s March contingent. “Hope to march next year.”
In many ways, the prayers of Dr. White and others, combined with the efforts of the Regents, paved the way for the students’ success. The College also owes a debt of gratitude to St. John the Beloved Roman Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia, which provided accommodations for students and faculty on Friday night after the March.
Looking to make the most of their short time in the Capitol, students took in as many sights as they could before their departure on Saturday afternoon, including a tour of the National Gallery of Art. They arrived back in Northfield, Massachusetts, late that night, exhausted by the experience, yet thrilled to have made their mark as members of the pro-life generation. Already they look forward to returning for next year’s March — and every March thereafter, until, by God’s grace, the scourge of abortion has come to an end.