By Rachel Stevens
The March for Life, advertised heavily not only on campus and in D.C., but all over the country, has brought thousands of proponents of both sides of the issue of abortion to the nation’s capital. Due to the national scale of this March, Catholic University has taken on the task of hosting over 1,000 high school students overnight on Thursday, January 18th in the DuFour Athletic Center.
This event titled “Pro-Life Hospitality” was organized by Campus Ministry and took place from Thursday morning to Friday afternoon. Over 200 student volunteers completed tasks like checking in high school students, serving breakfast Friday morning, and even staying overnight in the DuFour Center as chaperones.
Anna Mazur, Associate Campus Minister for Women’s Ministry & Pro-Life Ministry, led the logistical aspects of the event. Mazur set the tone of the event with some advice during a volunteer preparation meeting earlier in the week
“We need to show that Catholic University is welcoming and ready to serve others,” Mazur said. “Hospitality means we need to be ready to serve with a smile.”
The volunteers responded with smiles, excited and ready to dive into their service. Students across different majors, graduating classes, and levels of experience participated, some of whom participated in the event as high schoolers.
Many students also volunteered during the National Prayer Vigil for Life held in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Thursday night. These students filled many roles including student nurses, guides, and bouncers during the event, which was broadcasted on EWTN and CatholicTV.
Freshman vocal performance major Julia Kelley was eager to help with the hospitality effort as a volunteer.
“Without this option, many of these high school students wouldn’t be able to participate in the March,” Kelley said. “Some of them are coming from across the country. It’s important that young people get involved in causes they are passionate about.”
With all of these positive reactions, there is a question as to what benefits the University is receiving from this event. Mazur said that the high schools do not pay a fee to Catholic for letting them stay.
“We don’t charge the high school students. The only way we’d make money off of it is if they decide to make a donation, and that’s completely voluntary. It’s up to them,” Mazur said.
Instead of making money, the University hopes to benefit by showcasing its campus to prospective college students and fulfilling the Church’s mission of service. Hundreds of high school students were seen on tours, eating at the Pryzbyla Food Court, and exploring campus.
It took a great number of volunteers, a number of weeks to prepare, and various efforts from Campus Ministry to make everything run smoothly. From preparing food and making staff t-shirts to making sure the DuFour Center is ready for so many students, this has been a challenging undertaking for Campus Ministry.
“I think big-picture wise, it’s part of our mission. We get to be part of the greater mission of the church,” Mazur said. “Many places wouldn’t be able to afford to come if we didn’t offer that. We really get to express that deeper part of hospitality.”