Archdiocese gears up for January March for Life

More than 150 young Catholics will travel to Washington for the Jan. 22 March for Life, joining tens of thousands of others protesting the 1973 Roe vs Wade Supreme Court decision that declared most federal and state laws limiting abortion unconstitutional.

“Ever since I got here, I have pushed the March for Life as a poor man’s World Youth Day,” said Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, speaking at a Dec. 1 meeting of leaders of Catholic programs.

The march is one of the largest annual gatherings of young people in the country, said the cardinal, who will also be marching. “It is important for young people to realize they are not alone.”

Cardinal O’Malley said the youth rally and Mass before the march at the capital’s Verizon Center, is an amazing experience and an important part of the march experience. Cardinal O’Malley will concelebrate at the Mass along with other cardinals and bishops.

The Verizon Center has a 23,000 seat capacity for the Mass, and in January there will be two overflow sites with an audio-video feed, he said. The center and the overflow sites are all within quick walking distance of the march’s speaking program and starting line on the National Mall.

Buses will leave the Pastoral Center in Braintree at 3 p.m. and arrive at their hotel in College Park, Md. by 1 a.m., the morning of the rally and march, said Kathleen M. Stebbins, who works in the Office of New Evangelization for Youth and Young Adults. Her office is organizing the trip with the Vocations and Pro-Life offices, as well.

Stebbins said after the march, the buses will pick up the group at the Supreme Court building and take them to a local parish for a holy hour and adoration. The next day, the group will attend Mass at the National Basilica followed by a tour of the National Shrine.

Before heading home, the youths will visit several historic Washington sites before setting out for home. The buses are scheduled to arrive back at the Pastoral Center late that night.

In support of the pro-life cause and in support of the marchers, Deacons for Life in collaboration with the Pro-Life Office and the Office for Clergy Support, are organizing holy hours and adoration on the night of Jan. 21, while the marchers are on the road to Washington, said Father William T. Kelly, the director of the clergy support office.

Deacons for Life was formed at the suggestion of Deacon John Burkly, said Father Kelly. There are now 25 to 30 deacons in training to be visible advocates for the Culture of Life in their own parishes and on call as speakers for other groups and gatherings.

Marianne Luthin, the director of the Pro-Life Office said The Holy Hour for Life will be the first undertaking of the new group.

Wherever possible, deacons will preside at the holy hours scheduled at more than 60 parishes, she said.

“The Holy Hours for Life will provide a unique opportunity for prayerful support for the dignity of all human life from the moment of conception to the time of natural death. Most people cannot travel to Washington to express their commitment to the Gospel of Life,” she said.

“This year, thanks to the Boston Deacons for Life and the enthusiastic support of pastors, thousands of Catholics across the Archdiocese will be able to join as part of a national commemoration of the tragedy of abortion to unborn children, their mothers and the wider society,” she said.

Former Boston mayor and ambassador to the Vatican, Raymond L. Flynn, who is recovering from recent health troubles, said he is very happy that he is healthy enough to march with the young Catholics from the archdiocese.

“I have marched every year since Roe v. Wade, except for the time that I was at the Vatican,” the ambassador said.

It is important that these young people be encouraged and recognized as the future leaders of our country, he said.

“I think it is an extraordinary time for young people in this country to show real leadership, care and compassion for their values and for the protection of the unborn,” he said.

More information about attending the March for Life is available by contacting Kathleen Stebbins at 617-746-5811 or