National Shrine hosts Prayer Vigil for Life

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Addressing a crowd of more than 10,000 pro-lifers, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan delivered the homily at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington Jan. 18 during the evening National Prayer Vigil for Life.

The opening Mass, the kick-off to the 45th March for Life, was standing room only with high schoolers and others filling many of the basilica’s aisles.

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A standing room only crowd gathered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington Jan. 18. GEORGE GOSS | FOR THE CATHOLIC HERALD 

“Jam-packed like the seventh game of the World Series at Yankee Stadium,” Cardinal Dolan said to rolling laughter from the congregation.

The concelebrants included four cardinals, 37 bishops and 262 priests.

Pro-life activists came from across the nation and Cardinal Dolan encouraged the congregation to reflect on their “act of solidarity in prayer and witness” for the unborn.

“Pastor (Martin Luther) King would often begin his stirring speeches, which still move us, by asking his listeners, ‘Why are you here?’ ” Dolan said, referencing the civil rights icon.

Some in the crowd, such as Norma Canedo, 29, did not have to travel far, but was nonetheless  inspired by the vitality of the crowd.

“The most meaningful part is seeing how many young people are here,” said Canedo, the social justice coordinator at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington. “I do not think the secular media is paying attention to the fact that the future of our country is pro-life.”

Two college freshmen, Claire Mullan, 18, and Madeline Porter, 18, also were in attendance. And while they experienced a more strenuous commute — traveling more than 1,400 miles from the University of St. Thomas in Houston — they came away with the same inspiration.

“A lot of things are going downhill in this country, but all of these Catholics are getting together to March for Life and it is amazing,” Cullen said. “Besides, if there are people dying you have to do something about it.”

Porter added, “I love my Catholic faith and I love being pro-life.”

In his homily, Cardinal Dolan gave four main reasons in answer to his own question as to why so many were in attendance: to advocate, to give witness, to be encouraged and finally to find the strength to persevere “in this place, a home that the powers of darkness are scared of, where Mary is our mother, Jesus dwells and we are with family.”

The cardinal also highlighted what Alveda King, a pro-life advocate and the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said about the march.

“As Rev. King’s niece reminds us, her uncle would be marching with us in the defense of unborn life,” Dolan said.

Goss is a freelancer in Washington.

 

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018