Tales from a snow-stuck pilgrim bus: “Here in this place new snow is falling…”

I received an amusing note (and various SMS) from a friend in KC whose daughter is stuck on a bus in the snow after the March for Life.   A priest on the bus said Mass.  Here is a photo… grainy but good.

Also, he sent along a Parody Song which is said to have been sung on the bus.  Perhaps others, monitoring this blog from their busses, might do the same.  They have 4 bus-loads stranded.

Dedicated to our pilgrims stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Finally, a useful purpose for “Gather Us In

Here in this place new snow is falling,
now is the highway vanished away;
see in this bus our friends and our chaperones
brought here to you in the light of this day.
Please dig us out, the stuck and the stranded,
Please dig us out, the young and the not-as-young;
call to us now, and we shall awaken,
we shall arise at the sound of a plow.

We are the young, our lives now in chaos,
we are the old who want to escape;
we have been stuck through night into daytime,
Now we just wait for the National Guard.
Please dig us out, the rich and the haughty,
Please dig us out, the proud and the strong;
give us a plow, so we can get going,
give us the courage to finish this song.

Here we will grow in bonding and friendship,
here we will find His love in us all,
As the snow falls, each flake brings us closer
United as one we’ll bring life to the world.
Give us to hear God’s voice in the chaos,
give us to know His great love for us;
We have been called to do something special
Once we get home and get off this damn bus

Not in the dark of busses confining,
not on some snowplow, light years away—
here in this bus a new light is shining,
That’s cause I can’t turn my iPhone light off.
Please dig us and give us a pizza,
Please dig us out, I’m losing my mind;
Please dig us out, the bathroom is filling,
Send us a plow get us out of this bind.


A couple miles away, some pilgrims built an altar out of snow and a priest said Mass.


More…  HERE


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Siculum says:

    **Siculum’s PLATINUM Star of the YEAR. **

  2. benedetta says:

    Really funny the parody — and interesting the Christian joy which pervades this blizzard March for Life 2016. I too am in a snow stranded group of Marchers, however much comfortably so as we are in a hotel. Keeping those still inching home on the roads now in prayer.

    We all were among the loan souls walking around the Mall late afternoon yesterday in the white out. Our ebullient young intrepid Marchers kept their signs with them, and the vision of them running up the steps with their signs sticking out of backpacks or still in hand at the Lincoln Memorial made for a poignant photo. These courageous kids will remember this March for Life for the rest of their lives, that’s for sure . If polling is any indication of where the heart of this nation is headed, perhaps when they look back on it they will comprehend their commitment to the March and these extreme weather sacrifices as something of a turning point in a restoration of a nation’s character towards hope, mercy, compassion of letting our littlest exist and live on.

  3. Fiat Mihi says:

    I saw some pictures of high school kids from the Archdiocese of Omaha standing in the snow at an impromptu outdoor Mass.

    The students from the University of Nebraska were attending a Bus Mass….it being warmer on the bus.

  4. pelerin says:

    That is quite a picture of the Priest saying Mass out in the snow. I watched the programme on EWTN of the March for Life for the first time and was impressed by the courage of all those youngsters who took part bearing in mind the dreadful weather forecast.

    I watched the British news that evening to see if the March had got a mention here as I had been told my an American friend that it is always ignored here by the media and because of this I had no idea of its existence. Our news did indeed lead with Washington but only because of the weather. No mention was made whatsoever of those many thousandsof young Americans who had braved the elements. There was no mention either in the daily paper the following day. On the newspaper website there were many impressive photographs of snow scenes there but no mention of the march. Our media have once again completely ignored it.

    Love the version of the hymn and I do hope the ploughs get to all those stranded soon.

  5. Kathleen10 says:

    So impressed with these intrepid marchers who do the heavy lifting for all of us! What a superb feeling it is to do something like that, to stand up for God and feel that in your small way, you may have pleased Him. I really do thank these people and pray they are out soon.
    The lyrics are great. I’m only sad I’ll be humming Gather Us In for the rest of the night.

  6. a catechist says:

    The priest with the snow altar is Fr. Pat Behm of the dioc. of Sioux City, Iowa. After his priestly ordination he was assigned to the Cathedral of the Epiphany for a few years and transferred last summer to assist in a parish in a county north of the cathedral. A terrific preacher & priest on fire for the salvation of souls. One of the cathedral deacons, Dcn. Jorge, is there with him. Please remember them in your prayers, the priests who worked harder so Fr. Behm could go, and please pray for vocations in the Dioc. of Sioux City!

  7. That is a great parody of something worthy of parody. In a similar vein, I have often sung to myself “Pile High the Snow,” though its antecedent is far less worthy of parody. Today is another day, of course, when I have spent all day piling high the snow.

    Last Sunday, I attended Sunday morning Mass in Michigan before returning home. They sang “Anthem,” which I don’t hear too much these days as the liturgical tide truly has turned even if it hasn’t turned fast enough. All I could think to myself was, “we are eggs, we are butter, we are coffee, we are fork,” one of those indelible images that will stick with me the rest of my life, and which Fr. Z will probably remember from our Catholic Online days on CompuServe.

  8. Suzanne Carl says:


    This is a seminarian with a strong sense of irony!

    As someone with a nephew, Father Capadano, and a neice on the buses, I can’t say how happy I am they are being freed. After 20 plus hours of being stuck, they ae being taken to local hotels that have been re-opened for this purpose. You should know some intrepid young men scoured the countryside for wood to make a cross for the Mass outside. They young ones have also used their signs from the March as sleds. I’m okay with that!

  9. Suzanne Carl says:

    P.S. Father Capadano is in the black coat/red hood in the photo above.

  10. Lucas says:

    Not to be difficult, but is this really…….a good idea? I mean, if this Mass was celebrated on a beach, wouldn’t we be all up in arms about it? I’ve seen Masses in weird places as reason #14230948 for Summorum Pontificum, but this seems to be ok because its coming from the March.

    I dunno, maybe I’m just looking to much into it. [Could be.]

  11. Suzanne Carl says:

    Our buses got off the turnpike after 20 hours of sitting still. We are hunkering down for the night in Bedford, Pennsylvania. We plan to be on the road home to Omaha in the morning. Keep praying for no more delays. This pilgrimage has been full of delays, mechanical troubles, weather problems, etc. The kids are in good spirits but are growing weary. Prayer and sacrifice.

  12. frahobbit says:

    Perhaps they not only ignored them, but had to be careful where they took pictures to avoid accidentally getting some posters in the shots. I imagine that they had instructions to avoid certain areas.

  13. KarenN says:

    Lucas, in thinking about your question, it seems to me that the difference here is one of necessity. Mass should always be held at a church when a church is available. In this case – they are stuck – and yet they have the wonderful privilege of being able to worship God together because they have the exceedingly good fortune to have a priest with them. I think of the beautiful stories I have heard of priests gathering bits of bread and wine at prison camps, saving up so they could celebrate Mass.

    I think there is a kind of beauty here that speaks to the nobility of the human heart and the desire to worship the God who gives us breath and life.

  14. Rosary Rose says:

    Lucas, “Not to be difficult, but is this really…….a good idea? ”

    It reminds me of the pictures of Mass being said on the hood of a jeep during war with tired soldiers all around. These brave young soldiers of the Church Militant now have their memory of a Mass at wartime – a spiritual wartime.

    God bless them! St Christopher pray for us. Praying they are home safely & soon. Asking my Guardian Angel be with the people travelling home from the March.

  15. DavidJ says:

    There’s a world of difference between “We are three minutes drive from an available church, but heck, let’s do Mass here on the beach” and “we are stuck in a snow jam without recourse to a suitable church. Let’s do Mass here on the side of the road.”

  16. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Rosary Rose and DavidJ: I concur!

    There’s also a good lesson here. Because the people and clergy did their best with the altar and the liturgy, there is both dignity and noble simplicity in this Mass, which probably helped make the holiness of Mass manifest to everyone.

    And if people can try their best and do a good job setting up for Mass in a snowstorm, what is our excuse in a nice warm church?

  17. Pingback: To Pro-Life Pilgrims Stuck in the Snow Out East – The American Catholic

  18. Nicolas Bellord says:

    Everyone looks well wrapped up except for the poor priests. Should there be special vestments for such occasions?

  19. Cafea Fruor says:

    Was the altar dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows? ;-)

  20. Chiara says:

    My husband was on a bus with Students for Life and the Newman Center from St. Bernard Parish in Akron, Ohio. As a member of the parish K of C, he was graciously welcomed to their bus when they learned the bus he was supposed to ride was cancelled.

    They were present for the Mass celebrated by five priests on an altar made of snow built by the students. Lucas, I can assure you this was a very holy Mass. Everyone gave up their weekend to witness to the right to life, womb to tomb, and risked the treacherous weather to do it. These good priests and young people did not choose to be stranded for 24+ hours on the PA turnpike with a few bottles of water and a few granola bars. They did not stand in 2 feet or more of snow in 20 degree weather for the novelty of it. They prayed the Mass there because they needed Jesus, and these faithful priests willingly and reverently brought Jesus to them.

    My husband texted me (thank God for cell phones!) with what little battery power he had to let me know their status. I contacted the Secular Franciscans (I am of the OFS), the St. Bernard prayer chain, the St. Bernard Divine Mercy Cenacle, our excellent parish priests, and my Methodist boss. I let them know what was going on with Fred and the Newman students, and we all prayed our brains out for their safety and that of the others.

    At 9:30 PM Saturday night, after being at a standstill for over 12 hours, the PA state troopers inexplicably ordered their bus driver to maneuver the bus into the narrow plowed emergency ramp (for police and EMS) and drive to the US 30 exit. They have no clue why their bus was chosen – they had to pass dozens and dozens of cars, buses and trucks lined up ahead of them. They exited, stopped for sandwiches and a bathroom at a Sheetz, and eventually were able to get past the blizzard. They arrived home here in Akron (where we barely had a crust of snow) at around 2 AM Sunday morning. They were never so happy to see St. Bernard and the University of Akron as they were last night at the end of their long journey.

    They fully credit the grace and mercy of God, and the prayers of all of us at home, to their arrival. The beautiful Mass offered on the altar lovingly built of snow certainly strengthened all of these pilgrims spiritually. As my pastor noted, what a witness of the Faith. God bless these faithful priests who willingly sacrificed their personal comfort to offer Mass in the bitter cold.

  21. Matt Robare says:

    Lucas, in addition to all the other points raised, one has to see what’s actually going on. The famous picture of Mass being celebrated on a beach, which ChurchPop descibed as “Novus Ordon’t”, was marked by a vast indifference towards the Holy Sacrifice.


    In that picture, Father was improperly vested in Hawaiian shirt, shorts and sandals; the “altar” was barely recognizable; the faithful were wearing beach clothes (immodest and disrespectful) and sitting on plastic lawn chairs.

    In the Snow Mass, the priests were properly vested and it looks like everyone was much more properly disposed.

    Still, makes a good case for those Portable Mass Kits Father blogged about a while back.

  22. Sandy says:

    Mega blessings (if there is such a thing) to all of you who made these sacrifices! What soldiers of Christ; it brings tears to my eyes. With an army such as this, there is hope for the Church and the world! It reminds me to not be discouraged. God bless you too, Father Z.

    I waited to see this on the national news the evening of the march and not a word! :(

  23. NBW says:

    So awesome to see the Faith in action!

  24. Suzanne Carl says:

    Update from Father Capadano:
    Last night: around 5pm we gave up on waiting for people to come and clear us out. We followed the lead of other buses and used the shoulder to get out. In order to do this, we used empty pizza boxes and hands. Members of our group also helped dig out the buses and semi-trucks in front of us, so that we could have a clear path out. Around 630 we drove out of the mess. We went to hotels in Bedford PA. Those people were awesome. This morning: the turnpike we were stuck on is still closed. Our buses had issues due to being stuck for 23 hours in over a foot of snow. My bus: our breaks were frozen and our door was frozen shut. After an hour of work the bus driver got everything working. We then had mass in St. Thomas the Apostle’s gymnasium. After that we took a highway north to I-80 where we picked up a new 4th bus for the students who had a bus break down. While there, we ate food and someone payed for all of our meals! We are now cruising to Omaha on I-80. We should be back in Omaha mid-morning on Monday.
    As for being stuck. I can’t believe how well our students took the situation. We played in the snow, had mass in the snow, built a bathroom in the snow…. We watched movies, ate the snack food we had and ate leftover pizza from the night before. The volunteer firefighters eventually brought my bus water and hamburgers in the evening. Some buses that were ahead of us got pizza at lunch; we didn’t… We ate our leftovers from the night before (providence). Overall, I wouldn’t wish that experience on anybody, but it was incredible. Many graces were received and I believe there was a lot of growth by my students. As for some of the reports that the national guard came to help us…. They might have, but where I was located we never saw them. Major shout out to those volunteer firefighters! You guys helped save us and we are prayerfully grateful. Major shoutout to all those who prayed for us! Thank you. I believe your prayers are the reason we received so much grace and stayed so calm.

  25. Charivari Rob says:

    This has been a beautiful story – what these (mostly) young people and priests added when faced with the circumstance.

  26. I know well the priest pictured in the first photo above. ? I was on the same bus and I can assure you this Mass was celebrated in as worthy a manner as possible given the circumstances. Similarly. This who assisted did so with great and true piety. Similarly, I applaud the ingenuity of the pilgrims up the road who constructed the snow altar, it’s very construction is evidence of true piety responding to necessity, not mere novelty or silly caprice. As for the joy of the pilgrims, I can also attest to that. We were all in an uncomfortable position which, had things been even slightly different, could have disintegrated into a truly life threatening situation. With gratitude to Almighty God, I must share how impressed I was with the sense of sacrifice and selflessness exhibited by all the snowbound from the young pre-teens who shared their meager supply of snacks with motorists in neighboring cars to the octegenarian priest who refused the hotel room offered him (no doubt due to his advanced age) after our recovery, choosing instead to remain with the rest of us in the Legion Hall where we slept on the bare floor or propped up against the wall. A sublime sense of supernatural joy pervaded the entire group. To summarize, I will treasure this experience my whole life as a very clear and evident example of Christian joy in adversity!

  27. +JMJ+ says:

    A number of the students from the Des Moines Diocese at the #turnpikemass were from the school my two sons attend, and a few were from our Parish. Very happy to see this witness. Even happier to see that even though the media appear to have largely ignored the March, this has got some coverage. Stealth evangelization!

  28. kat says:

    Our church’s group also was stuck on the turnpike from 8:30 pm Friday to 2:30 pm Saturday, and Father said Mass on the bus Saturday morning. Once moving, they learned the roads were closed, so had to get a motel. They arrived home Sunday evening and Father said Mass for them all at the church before they all went their ways. Due to their helping dig out others, and clean off peoples’ cars, and the cheerfulness the pilgrims kept, apparently the bus driver praised them to his boss, and the news was contacted to meet them when they arrived home! Our young priest was still in cassock as he and the men were shoveling cars out!

  29. hwriggles4 says:

    A good part of this story was covered by Fox News. I watched early Sunday morning when the morning crew on Fox and Friends interviewed a priest from the Fathers of Mercy (a good order) who was on a bus helping to chaperone a group from a high school. Fox News even showed photographs showing “Defend Life” signs and the priest even mentioned “March for Life” on the air. The discussion entailed how well behaved the students were and how they got outside and helped stranded travelers. The bus was stranded on the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I have driven that Turnpike several times between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, and down to Philadelphia) for twenty hours. (I remember myself two years ago I was stuck in an ice storm in Texas, and it took me 9 hours to make what is usually a 3-1/2 hour drive, so I can relate).

    I’m sure the Fox News archives can be found. This story was on Fox and Friends, and Shannon Bream covered the March for Life for Fox News from the Supreme Court on Friday, January 22, 2016, in the snow.

    Thank Fox News. I did. The other national networks ignore stories like this.

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