It was a gloriously sunny Saturday afternoon in St. Augustine, Florida, and tourists were enjoying the sites. Suddenly, something disturbed their tranquility. It was the 2022 March for Life St. Augustine passing in their midst, and what a sight it was with an estimated 5000 participants.
Among those participating were members of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP). The TFP statue of Our Lady of Fatima, carried by volunteers, made a grand entrance into an open field near the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche. The speeches were already in progress when the statue parted the crowd like Moses and the Red Sea. Hushed voices whispered to those nearby, “Oh, look how beautiful she is.”
After placing her on a table for veneration, many people came up to thank TFP members for their work. They had seen the videos of TFP street campaigns and the violence of the opposition against the TFP.
One lady introduced her husband, a Knight of Columbus, in Orlando, Florida. “I promise I won’t throw any bottles at you,” he jokingly said in reference to the videos.
After the talks, pro-lifers marched down San Marcos Street to the Old City Gate, which marks the entrance to the historic downtown area. The passing of Our Lady’s statue through the stone pillars was like that of someone coming to conquer.
As she processed through the downtown, one marcher noticed a couple looking for directions on a map. They were oblivious to what was coming their way. The wife’s jaw dropped when she looked up and saw the statue. She was left speechless and backhanded her husband’s shoulder to get his attention at the heavenly sight that was passing.
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“What do you want,” he said as he looked up. He, too, was taken by the sight of a statue surrounded by devotees praying the rosary. He slowly and reverently removed his hat as Our Lady passed.
Similar scenes occurred along the parade route. People were visibly comforted by the religiosity of the event and the presence of such a beautiful representation of the Virgin of Fatima. They seemed concerned by the current situation in our country and looked upon her with prayerful confidence to help them in their needs.
This attitude was in stark contrast to others who did not like what they saw. Some were shocked when, after the rosary, Dave Coffey and the young men of the Ocala, Florida Troops of Saint George intoned the song “We Want God.”
The impact of the singing marchers, statue and joyful pro-lifers seemed to be just too much for some to handle. One store owner was apoplectic as she screamed at the march participants, “Pro-Choice.” She was drowned out by the hymn lyrics that proclaim, “We want God who is our King, we want God our Father.”
A lady with two toddlers repeated the same trite slogan. She did not see how odd a statement it was coming from a person with children who were obviously given a chance rather than condemned by a “choice.” A couple sitting in a patio area could not constrain themselves either, as they repeatedly yelled “Separation of Church and State.” They were drowned out by the hymn proclaiming, “God is our King.”
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One first-time participant of the St. Augustine Pro-life March commented on the stark contrast between the polarizing issue of abortion and the optimistic atmosphere of tourists enjoying an idyllic Saturday afternoon in one of America’s most historic cities. It was as if the march had interrupted a cruise.
It truly was a clash of two mentalities. On the one side were the far more numerous observers who desired a “Return to Order,” so well explained in the book of the same title authored by John Horvat. On the other side were those whose “cruise ship” had been disturbed by a sticky issue they would prefer to ignore.
Indeed, it was a very exhilarating event since it represented a great promise of assistance from Our Lady for America…even if it disturbed some people’s “cruise ship.”