January 23, 2022 (Edward J. Barr) – On January 16 a holy alliance was formed when St. John Bosco visited St. Augustine. This wasn’t a heavenly meeting of the two actual saints. In fact, you could say that St. John Bosco took St. Augustine by force. It happened at the March for Life in the City of St. Augustine. On that day we who attended were offered a glimpse of a glorious pro-life future in our nation.
St. John Bosco Academy sent several busloads of students five hours south of their home in Cumming, Georgia, north of Atlanta. The day’s events began with a Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche. The Most Reverend Felipe J. Estévez, bishop of the diocese of St. Augustine (the oldest diocese in Florida), celebrated the Mass. It was held in a field a short distance from the site of the first Mass celebrated in what is now the United States, by Father Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales on September 8, 1565.
The students from St. John Bosco made their presence known at Mass by their reverential and focused attitudes. They quietly stood near the back of the congregation, which numbered a few thousand faithful. During communion they waited patiently to partake in the Eucharist; it appears the organizers didn’t anticipate such a robust turnout and had to return to the main church for additional hosts. Our small group couldn’t help commenting on the inspiring character of the students.
The March kicked off shortly after Mass some motivational words from a few speakers. The route follows the main road in the city and then transitions to the old town, through the heart of the historical tourist area. The street narrows significantly after the transition. A few of us were separated from our group and found ourselves in the middle of the students from St. John Bosco. We quickly learned they had saved their energy for the March. They demonstrated their youthful enthusiasm through a number of motivating chants (“Hey, hey, ho, ho, Roe v. Wade has got to go), yet were always charitable and respectful to the somewhat bewildered tourists whom we passed.
When we had reached the Plaza de la Constitución, near the Basilica, we turned around to look for our friends. It was then we noticed that we were right in front of the large banner emblazed with the main theme they were singing throughout the walk. Crossing the street to the park, the students’ shouted that banner for their final chant. With hopeful enthusiasm and joy for the witness of these young missionaries of life, we were proud to scream with them, “We – are – the Pro-Life generation.” Let us pray that the students of St. John Bosco Academy are correct!
Edward J Barr is a Catechist, attorney, and public speaker in Florida. He earned a Master of Theology degree from the Augustine Institute. Mr. Barr is a contributing writer for the Roma Locuta Est blog (www.RomaLocutaEst.com)