Katie Cerni, diocesan digital and social media coordinator, takes a selfie with students from Red Bank Catholic High School at the March for Life.  Katie Cerni photo

Katie Cerni, diocesan digital and social media coordinator, takes a selfie with students from Red Bank Catholic High School at the March for Life.  Katie Cerni photo

By Katie Cerni | Diocesan Digital and Social Media Coordinator

Washington D.C. during the March for Life is probably the closest thing that I have ever experienced to being in Canada; the niceness, I mean.

Only after being assigned to report on the 2019 March for Life did I realize what I had gotten myself into. I seemed to forget that hundreds of thousands of people pack into less than one square mile of space for a rally before bottlenecking into a monolithic procession up to the Supreme Court building.

Except, they’re all so, so nice about it.

Seriously, I was walking around (more like squeezing through tiny pockets of air between groups of people) trying to find different parishes to report on and every time I bumped into someone, anyone, they would apologize to me.

As I was pushing past thousands of people I didn’t know, nor will likely ever see again, their niceness struck me. These people, they don’t know me. They don’t know where I’m going or why; they just let me by, with a few additional “God bless yous” from the occasional nun that I would pass.

As I was trying to weave through the crowds, I, by total happenstance, ran into my collegiate campus ministry. I have known the priest that was leading their pilgrimage since I was 16, but have not seen him in over four years. To my surprise, despite the long absence of interaction, he was still able to greet me by my first and last name.

After the March ended, as I was making my way back to my bus, I was walking behind four Knights of Columbus members, one of whom was in a wheelchair. As we approached a large amount of snow that had frozen into an ice block over the whole width of the sidewalk, the Knights in front of me slowed down and tried to help their brother Knight over the ice in his wheelchair by pushing. It didn’t work. Almost immediately, each of the three Knights who were with him took a side of the wheelchair, hoisted their brother up and carried him, wheelchair and all, over the ice. I almost cried witnessing their steadfast care.

What I realize now, after my return  home,  is that it wasn’t so much the niceness of everyone I had met which moved me most. Rather, it was their humility.

There’s something that happens to us when we decide to choose life. We are able to bring humility into our everyday words and actions because to “choose life” means that we are saying “I am not the only one who matters.”

To choose life is to seek forgiveness and reconciliation, even when things might not be our fault. To choose life is to help lift up our brothers and sisters over the difficult and often unexpected terrains of life. To choose life can even be as simple as remembering someone’s name, even though we may never see him or her again.

When we “choose life”, we’re not just choosing legislation. We’re choosing these little, everyday ways to help stir up the joy of the Lord in someone else’s reality.

As I was speaking to some people on my bus during the ride to the March for Life, a woman said something to me that I cannot stop thinking about.

“I was once pro-choice and I’m not anymore, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a choice.”

That really resonated with me. Am I what modern politicians would like to call “pro-choice”? Not even close. But I do have a choice. And I am choosing life.