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Life is indeed VERY good

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This article has been updated.

More than 8,000 youths, many who traveled great distances, took time to celebrate life at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax Jan. 17, praying for the success of the March for Life. Many of the same youths were back Jan. 18 for the morning rally and Mass, singing and praying with joy and hope for an end to abortion.  

The 10th annual Life is VERY Good evening of prayer was sponsored by the diocesan Office of Youth, Campus, and Young Adult Ministries. 

The band I Am They, singer Steve Angrisano, and author and speaker Chris Stefanick kept the crowd energized with music and presentations. 

Chris Craft, a youth minister from Bismarck, N.D., came to Life is VERY Good on one of 10 buses from North Dakota. He is attending the March for Life for the first time. 

“It’s a great honor and privilege (to be here) with the Bismarck Diocese and support the right to life and dignity of the human person,” he said. “Each person has a dignity that we all should seek to uphold. It’s such a joy to be part of this thing, but it also fills me with sorrow that we have to have such a thing, a march to win over the country to give the basic right to life to our little brothers and sisters.” 

Traveling with the youths gave him an opportunity to see something deeper. “Getting to know some of the (youths) we came with and recognizing in them a beautiful innocence is something I want to defend and something I want to stand up for,” Craft said.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge welcomed the travelers and told them that life is very good because God loves them. “Remember, you are never alone, even when life is very difficult, you will be able to say life is very good,” Bishop Burbidge said.

“Life is very good because of what will happen in this arena,” said Bishop Burbidge. “Because our God comes to us in the Blessed Sacrament, in the Eucharist.”

Stefanick spoke about joy during his presentation.

“Joy for us Christians doesn’t come from everything in life going perfectly, it comes from being loved perfectly, even when everything in our life is a mess,” he said. “That’s the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we live in that joy, who we are spreads the fragrance of God everywhere, who we are sends the message to the world that life is very good.”

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Angrisano said he believes the message in Genesis of being made in the image and likeness of God is a self-evident statement. “We are not like the elephants or chimpanzees. We are clearly created differently,” he said. We have an awareness that’s different, and a capacity for creativity.” 

The exposition and Eucharistic procession brought the arena from a rock concert atmosphere to a silent, reverent space. As Bishop Burbidge carried the monstrance and processed through the arena, many knelt on the concrete floor, heads bowed in prayer. 

“Right from the beginning we want to make it about prayer,” said Kevin Bohli, director of the Office of Youth, Campus, and Young Adult Ministries. “If we want to change the culture, we begin by changing ourselves. And God is calling each one of us to change ourselves.”

Victoria St. Romain, who traveled from Baton Rouge, La., attended the Life is VERY Good rally last year. “This year I’ve grown so much, and I wanted to grow more in my faith and get closer to God,” she said. “The event feels open and welcoming, and you (feel) the love we have for each other here.”

People came from 53 dioceses and 27 states as well as Sydney, Australia. The largest group — nearly 1,000 people — came from Louisiana.   

Speaking on the 10th anniversary of the rally, Assistant Director Christine Najarian said the event began to provide young people in the area and those traveling to Washington for the March for Life a place to gather and pray.

Morning rally and Mass

 

 

Nearly 6,000 youths returned to Eagle Bank Arena Jan. 18 for a morning rally and Mass celebrated by Bishop Burbidge. 

Early arrivers played trivia with diocesan seminarians before Steve Angrisano and his band livened up the arena and started the Life is VERY Good chant, asking students to stand on each word with their cellphone flashlights raised. 

Father James Searby, Catholic chaplain at George Mason University in Fairfax, welcomed the crowd. He said in God’s great love, God wanted to give the world an image of himself, so he created woman and man. “When he made man and woman, he said they are very good,” he said. “So today, we celebrate the creation of humanity, the creation of humanity now.”  

Sister of Life Bethany Madonna offered the keynote address, reminding the youths that their love is worth fighting for. She talked about God’s gift of love. 

“I love fingerprints because they identify you and only you forever,” she said. “If God took the time to create that invisible pattern, how much more time did he take to create the love on your heart? No one can love like you do. No one.”

More than 475 students from Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries had the largest group in attendance.

“It’s great that we can all come together as a community and stand up for what we think is right,” said Laura Fenske, a student at John Paul the Great. 

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated Mass. During his homily, Bishop Burbidge reminded those in the audience from last year that he visited the Mother of Mercy Clinic in Manassas and how it expanded this year. He thanked the youths for their pro-life efforts. 

“Thank you, my young friends, for your zeal and your courage,” he said. “Soon you will come forward to receive Jesus, the Source of Life. May he lead and guide you as you go forth today — serenely, consciously and courageously.”

Ella Reither, a youth from DeSales School in Columbus, Ohio, said coming to the March for Life is a way to share the message of life. “It’s an important cause and you need to share your causes with people, so they’ll get the message,” she said.

“It was very moving and inspiring,” said Garrett Phipps, a youth of Akron, Ohio. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before.”  

Guests left for the March for life with Chick-fil-A lunch and a renewed spirit of love for life.

 Follow March for Life coverage here. 

 

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