Order of Malta

2024 Pilgrimage for Life

The theme of the 2024 March for Life, “With Every Mother, for Every Child,” profoundly resonated with our members. It was a poignant reminder of why we gather annually: to affirm life as a reflection of our devotion to Christ and His teachings. The theme underscored our commitment to the sanctity of life at all stages, intertwining our steadfast Catholic faith with a call to action that extends beyond the March itself.

The March for Life pilgrimage began with morning reflection, rosary, and music at the Washington Retreat House, which the Sisters of Life hosted. Katy Feeney sang and played original compositions on her harp, narrating the life of the Blessed Mother and her son, Jesus, and spoke to the assembled pilgrims about her life-affirming work caring for child immigrants. The reflection provided two examples of family-focused faith, in the power of the daily family rosary and the example of the Ulma family, two parents and seven children, aged eight and younger, including one unborn, for their martyrdom in Poland on 24 March 1944 as a result of protecting the lives of their Jewish neighbors during the Nazi Holocaust.

Following the morning program, pilgrims met with the sisters for a meal and fellowship, reaffirming our purpose and the power of faith in our mission. A short bus ride brought the pilgrims to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Pilgrims delighted in the many opportunities on offer, including more fellowship, a visit to the Ulma family relics at the John Paul II Seminary, Latin Mass, confession and the Basilica gift shop in the undercroft, and the opportunity to observe high school students asking religious about their vocations.

A particularly remarkable aspect of this year’s pilgrimage was the significant presence of youth members at the Basilica. Their participation brought a dynamic energy to the event and symbolized our mission’s continuity for future generations. Their involvement underscored the importance of educating and engaging the younger members of the Order in our core values and missions. The theme “With Every Mother, for Every Child” was especially poignant in this context, reinforcing our dedication to supporting life at all stages and highlighting our role in nurturing future defenders of faith and servants of the poor and sick.

The Vigil Mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception was a powerful demonstration of faith in action, grounding us in worship, prayer, and adoration. The homilies by Bishop Sweeney and Bishop Burbidge were touchstones of inspiration, emphasizing the resilience required in our journey. Reflecting on Cardinal John O’Connor’s words, “There is no such thing as a merely annual march for life. Every march is unique with its own excitement,” we recognized our pilgrimage as part of a larger, ongoing spiritual journey.

The day of the March saw a significant snowstorm throughout the Washington DC Metro Area. The city was covered in a blanket of white and school closures added to the feeling of festivity and special purpose.

Amid the solemnity and reflection, joyful camaraderie and lightheartedness set a unique tone for this year’s March. The pilgrimage began with an impromptu snow fight initiated by our President Emeritus, Dr. Peter Kelly, Board of Councilors Member Anne Peach, and one of our younger youth pilgrims, Valentino Nardo. The playful interaction, set against the backdrop of a snow-covered landscape, brought smiles and laughter, highlighting our members’ unity, fellowship, and joy. Anne Peach and Jean Molloy contributed to the spirit by making snow angels, adding a touch of hope to the event. These moments of joy amidst our serious mission reminded us of the beauty and wonder of life at all stages.

Order of Malta

American Association, U.S.A
St. Patrick’s Cathedral Parish House
14 E 51st Street
New York, NY 10022
(212) 371-1522