Thousands of parishioners across the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will rise early on the morning of Friday, Jan. 19 to board buses and take part in a pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. for the 51st annual National March for Life.
This march is the world’s largest annual human rights demonstration, which promotes the beauty and dignity of every human life by working to end abortion.
“There’s lots of enthusiasm out there,” says Steven Bozza, Director of the Office of Life and Family in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Last year, approximately 3,000 individuals from the five-county region attended the march and Bozza says he expects another large showing of Philadelphia pilgrims this Friday.
“The enthusiasm is still there, even with the frigid temperatures,” says Bozza. “It doesn’t deter people.”
Bozza says many buses have been organized around the Archdiocese by various groups, including the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia, Catholic Social Services’ Project Rachel ministry, Pennsylvanians for Human Life, and archdiocesan Catholic high schools including Bishop Shanahan, Cardinal O’Hara and Roman Catholic.
Sixty-five students from Cardinal O’Hara High School in Springfield will be attending this year’s march, says Father August Taglianetti, Director of Campus Ministry, who will be a chaperone on the trip.
Most O’Hara students will board the bus at their school at 6:30 a.m. the day of the march, though 16 students will travel down today to participate in a prayer vigil. Twenty-four students will stay in D.C. for the weekend to attend a Pro-Life Leaders’ Summit.
The Philadelphia pilgrims will begin at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for a 10:00 a.m. Mass with Bishop John McIntyre, Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, as the Principal Celebrant. Bishop Joseph Coffey, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese for Military Services, USA, who was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1996, will be the homilist.
Following Mass, all will meet up and march behind seminarians from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. They will meet at 7th Street and the National Mall, towards the Smithsonian Institute. Participants are to look for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia branded flags.
The theme of this year’s march is, “Pro-Life: With Every Woman, for Every Child.” In last November’s announcement of the theme, March for Life President Jeanne Mancini emphasized, “It is right to choose life.”
Though the 2022 Dobbs decision overturned 1973’s Roe v. Wade, striking down the nation’s federal abortion law, the pro-life effort continues in 2024 with the battle shifting to the states.
In addition to the national march, individual states under the March for Life umbrella have their own marches throughout the year. The Pennsylvania march will be held in Harrisburg on Sept. 23, 2024.
The March for Life was started by Catholic convert Nellie Gray (1924-2012) in 1974 in response to the Roe v. Wade ruling the previous year. It has grown to become the biggest pro-life event in the world, drawing crowds of more than 100,000. It is televised live each year by EWTN.
Speakers at this year’s march include former NFL player Benjamin Watson; Jim Daly, President and CEO of Focus on the Family; and Dominick Tolentino, Penn State University senior and president of Students for Life Club.
Danny Gokey – a top three finalist on season eight of American Idol and three-time Grammy Nominee – will perform a Pre-Rally concert starting at 11:00 a.m. He will also sing the National Anthem.
You can help the March for Life effort even if you can’t travel to D.C. You can attend Mass that morning, or pray a Rosary that afternoon, dedicating your prayers to an end to abortion and to the safety of all those attending the March. You can also pray while watching the coverage on EWTN.
For more information, visit the website, MarchforLife.org.
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