GRIFFITH | In what has become a January tradition, a group of students and adults from St. Mary Roman Catholic Church and its school will set off today on a road trip to Washington, D.C., to speak out against abortion.
Wednesday is the 41st annual March for Life, an anti-abortion gathering and march in Washington.
The Rev. Theodore Mens, pastor of St. Mary in Griffith and director of pro-life activities for the Diocese of Gary, has been attending off and on since the mid-1970s.
This is the eighth year students from St. Mary are going with him.
"We're happy to be part of that movement," Mens said. "It's always a motivating, renewing, invigorating, inspiring trip."
Mens said the March for Life crowd has become more youthful over the decades.
"Over the years, middle-aged people became less and less apparent, and we got more and more young people," he said.
Students prepared for this year's trip by visiting the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie, Ill.
"We wanted to begin by emphasizing the dignity of human life at any stage of life, from conception to natural death," he said. "From a scientific point of view, you are a human from the first moment of conception. Who you will be in the future is already determined from your DNA, right from the beginning."
During the four-day trip, the group of about 50, which includes 31 students, will pray for the respect of dignity for all human life.
"To celebrate God's love with 300,000 other people, mainly young people, it's an exciting, meaningful, motivating experience," Mens said. "Each year that all of us go, we're always uplifted."
The group will march from the National Mall to the Supreme Court, according to the event website.
"Our whole hope is a prayerful hope that, in the future, our country, legislators and society will accept women who are pregnant," Mens said. "Honor, revere and support them, and welcome every child who is conceived."
The group also will take time to tour Washington.
"Even though it's a sacred pilgrimage, after we march and see our representatives and senators, we see the beautiful monuments and museums," Mens said.