Farmington pilgrims are March for Life blizzard-busters

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Late in the evening before of the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court building stood silent. The air was frigid, with just a slight breeze ruffling the American flags flanking the steps.

Hundreds of thousands of people were expected to descend upon the nation's capital and the Supreme Court the following day for the 43rd annual March for Life, despite the potentially historic Winter Storm Jonas tracking its way into the area. The storm was expected to dump up to two feet inches of snow through the weekend.

Among those who braved the elements to go to Washington, D.C, were more than 50 people from St. Joseph Parish in Farmington. Led by pastor Father Rickey Valleroy, the pilgrimage left Farmington Tuesday evening, traveled through the snow nearly the whole way through, and arrived in D.C. Wednesday evening. They planned to scoot out of town just after the midday march, hoping to avoid the heaviest of the snowfall.

But for this night, the eve of the historic anniversary, the Farmington group came to the foot of the Supreme Court building to pray the Rosary by candlelight — actually battery-operated tea light candles — and prepare their hearts for the pinnacle of their trip.

"We're here but for no other reason but to ask God to end abortion in America," said Father Valleroy. "Tomorrow is a day of darkness in the world until Roe vs. Wade is overturned. Let us be the light as God's people."

As they prayed, they offered their intentions: for the president, vice-president and other elected officials; for mothers carrying human life in their wombs; for the Church; for homeless individuals; for safe travels — and the list went on.

The annual pilgrimage has been a source of many blessings — parishioner Mike Kelso said he's proof of that. He married a Catholic 19 years ago, but still felt something was missing. He started making the trip to D.C. with the parish — which led him to eventually become a Catholic three years ago. He's one of five people from the parish who have become Catholic over the years as a result of attending.

"The spirituality of it and the sacrifices we make are what pushed me over the edge," said Kelso, who came this year with his wife and two teenage children. "My life has changed completely. It's the sanctity of life we need to instill in our children, so in turn when they grow up (abortion) will no longer be an issue for them."

This was Keegan Wade's second year on the Farmington pilgrimage. The fourth-grader at St. Joseph School was pretty bummed he was going to miss the blizzard — he was excited about going home and telling his friends about being in up to two feet of snow — but nevertheless he was looking forward to sharing with others what he experienced on the trip.

Going on the march is hard work, he said, but it's worth it, "because we're saving babies' lives." 

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