WASHINGTON D.C. — Just after 1 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 29, Thomas Hackett stood in the middle of about 50 people crowded on a Washington D.C. street corner. With his eyes closed and fist clenched around wooden rosary beads, he led the group through a series of Hail Mary prayers.
It was the second time he led a group in prayer ahead of the annual March for Life. The night before, he, his wife, and a few friends held an overnight vigil with prayers, songs, and hymns outside the fence enclosing the Supreme Court building. They were joined by about 30 parishioners from a Latin Mass at St. Joseph’s on Capitol Hill, but Hackett said most tapered off as it got later and colder.
However, his core group never wavered and spent the entire night there without sleep.
“I think what we’re trying to do is follow in the footsteps of the saints. Reading about Saint Francis and his brothers where they were first forming communities, the vigils they would hold,” Hackett said. “Seeing how much the lives of those saints really transformed society, and I think we’re very much hoping to live out that witness.”
Hackett drove to Washington D.C. on Thursday from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he lives in a Catholic worker house part of the Catholic Worker Movement. This was his sixth year attending the March for Life.
The Catholic Worker Movement was founded by Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day in 1933, amid the Great Depression. According to its website, there are 187 Catholic Worker Movement communities worldwide that “live a simple lifestyle in community, serve the poor, and resist war and social injustice.”
Hackett is also the co-founder of the Catholic worker organization Tradistae.
“Something we’re really interested in as Catholic workers and part of the mission of Tradistae is, as Peter Maurin said, sort of blow the dynamite of Catholic social teaching,” Hackett said. “He really believed that Catholic social teaching has this dynamism, and it can influence society.”
In that same breath, he added that the March for Life “is a great event,” but he’s concerned that “more than 40 years have passed (since Roe v. Wade), and we don’t really see much change.”
Going forward, Hackett hopes people continue their advocacy for the pro-life cause beyond just the March for Life.
“We need to kind of just step up our game and live out the Gospel in a more intense and serious way,” he said. “We should definitely be doing political action, but we shouldn’t be putting all of our hope into worldly leaders who aren’t trying to live out a Saintly life.”