By Lou Baldwin
Special to The CS&T

Thousands of witnesses to the value of all human life from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, led by Cardinal Justin Rigali, will gather in Washington, D.C., on Monday, Jan. 24, for the 38th annual March for Life.

The March, which is preceded by a noon Rally for Life attended by tens of thousands of pro-life advocates on the National Mall at Fourth Street NW, proceeds down Constitution Avenue past the Capitol and ends before the U.S. Supreme Court Building.

Most years it is held on Jan. 22, the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Decision that legalized abortion throughout the nation. This year, because the anniversary occurs on a weekend when government offices are closed, the Rally and March have been shifted to the 24th. {{more}}

At this point, 73 buses representing parishes, schools, colleges and St. Charles Borromeo Seminary have registered with the Archdiocese for the March for Life, according to James J. King, an administrator with the Archdiocesan Secretariat for Evangelization.

The buses will park at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Some other groups that are going have not registered with the Archdiocese, King noted.

Cardinal Rigali will join with other cardinals, archbishops, bishops and many priests on the evening of Jan. 23 in the Great Upper Church of the Basilica for the 6:30 p.m. opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston will be the principal celebrant and homilist.

Cardinal Rigali will be the principal celebrant and homilist of a 10 a.m. Mass in the Basilica preceding the Rally and March for Life.

Local events to mark the Roe v. Wade anniversary include a Jan. 21 Interfaith Prayer Vigil from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. before Warminster Planned Parenthood on Louis Drive in Warminster.

On Jan. 22 there will be a 7:30-9 a.m. prayer vigil before the Philadelphia Women’s Center, an abortion facility at Eighth and Cherry streets. The vigil, sponsored by Generation Life and the Pro-Life Union of Southeastern Pennsylvania, will be followed by a 9:30 a.m. Mass at St. John the Evangelist Church.

The next day will feature a 2:30 p.m. March for Life from St. Agnes Church in West Chester to the Chester County Courthouse, also in West Chester. On Jan. 27 there will be a Life Chain from noon to 1 p.m. at the Chester County Courthouse.