BISMARCK, ND — There’s a storm brewing in Washington D.C. Some are forecasting about a million anti-abortion protestors at the March For Life 2016 Rally on Friday, January 22, at 1 p.m., in Washington D.C. That would be a record number of attendees — that keeps getting larger every year — and figuratively speaking, could cause blowing and drifting pro-lifers along Constitution Avenue.

Blowing into the nation’s capital from the west will be 60 pro-life pilgrims from the University of Mary in Bismarck, ND, along with hundreds more Catholic high school students from Shanley (Fargo), Minot Ryan (Minot), Trinity (Dickinson) and St. Mary’s Central (Bismarck).

University of Mary students receive blessing from Father Robert Shea in the Our Lady of the Annunciation Chapel on campus before boarding buses for March For Life 2016 Rally in DC

University of Mary students receive blessing from Father Robert Shea in the Our Lady of the Annunciation Chapel on campus before boarding buses for March For Life 2016 Rally in DC

The contingent from Mary took part in mass at 10 a.m. (today) Wednesday, January 20, followed by a blessing at 10:30 a.m. in the Our Lady of the Annunciation Chapel on campus before boarding two buses and making the 26-hour or so journey to D.C.

“Our number of students making this trip is growing every year and we anticipate it growing for years to come,” said Reverend Kerry Bender, organizer of the trip and director of the Christian Leadership Center and Chaplain at the University of Mary. “We have Catholic students and Protestant students, so it will be a very uplifting and rewarding ride. We will get to know each other, pray and also learn pro-life chants and cheers along the way.”

Leading those chants and cheers on the bus will be senior accounting major Anne Dziak (Di-ZHAHK) of Villa Park a suburb of Chicago, IL. This will be her 11th March For Life Rally and her second as a Mary student. Dziak, her sister and their friend started the pro-life group at their parish back home when she was 16 years old.

With her hands full of personal items, University of Mary student Anne Dziak smiles as she boards a bus on campus headed for the March For Life 2016 Rally in Washington DC.

With her hands full of personal items, University of Mary student Anne Dziak smiles as she boards a bus on campus headed for the March For Life 2016 Rally in Washington DC.

“We wanted to get young adults involved and have them be aware of what it meant to be pro-life and understand all life issues,” remarked Dziak, who transferred to Mary from a community college because of its Catholic identity and affordability. “We started this monster in Chicago. The group grew to 200 members then to over 800 and is now called The Crusaders for Life in Chicago. Without life there is no other issue to care about. If we can’t protect those who are unborn how are we going to protect those who are born? March For Life provides a good witness for what we believe in and allows us to rally with likeminded people.”

The University of Mary convoy has a full schedule planned once they arrive in D.C. including, taking part in the Life Is Very Good Conference, and attending Mass presided by The Most Reverend John T. Folda, Bishop of the Fargo Diocese and concelebrated by University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea. After the rally, it’s tradition for students and Shea to all gather at Bullfeathers restaurant for lunch just a few blocks from the Supreme Court.

“The students look forward to the lunch with Monsignor every year,” added Bender. “The University of Mary is already unique because our students interact freely with our president regularly on campus and when he says Mass. But with this march there is a unity and it demonstrates to the students that this is a commitment by the whole university. It’s also an opportunity to participate in America’s political process that is a huge deal — along with voting. Our students will come back and share their experiences with others.”

Pro-Life and Pro-Woman Go Hand in Hand is the theme for this year’s March For Life Rally. The event’s list of guest speakers can be found on their March For Life 2016 Rally website along with the schedule.

A schedule that will go on as planned. Literally speaking, there is also a real winter storm brewing. CNN, NBC and other media outlets are forecasting rain and one to two feet of snow for Washington D.C. starting Friday and ending on Saturday. According to Pastor Bender, that could alter some of their post March For Life Plans on Saturday, but Friday’s plans will go on.

“Come hell, high water — or snow, we will march,” said Bender.

“We can handle anything, we’re from North Dakota,” emphatically stated Dziak, the newly transplanted North Dakotan.

 To keep up with their journey, follow the hashtag #LifeAtMary.