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Vigil for Life draws crowd despite snowstorm

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The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington was jam-packed Jan. 17 with pro-life tour groups, members of religious orders, student pilgrims and families despite snowy weather affecting the Washington area and beyond. 

One group traveled from Maine, where two feet of snow fell the night before the Vigil Mass.  Another group of 122 students from St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol, Conn., drove all the way from their home state to Washington on four buses for the long ride to the shrine and to participate in the upcoming March for Life.

What was the reason for this bold commitment? All participants in the vigil showed a strong dedication to the pro-life cause and enthusiasm to participate in the March for Life.

“I want to be a voice for those who don't have a voice,” said Madelynn Kunze, 15, attending the march for the first time with other students from St. Paul Catholic High School. Despite the inclement weather, she looked forward to participating in the march and predicted it would be “amazing.”

The Vigil Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities and archbishop of Kansas City, Kan. 

“Sometimes our opponents criticize pro-lifers for only caring about the unborn. But in such a broad-based movement there are obviously some exceptions. In my experience in the pro-life community, that simply is not true,” said Archbishop Naumann. “The pro-life Catholic challenges us to care about the sacredness of every human being across a wide spectrum. We’re called always and everywhere to protect the dignity of the human person.” 

During the Mass, special thanks were given to participating Orthodox bishops who have come together with Catholic leaders in strong support on the issue of pro-life. 

Also, the church sex abuse crisis did not fail to make its mark on services for the first time, as part of Archbishop Naumann’s homily was directed toward the issue of abuse and its effect on victims, which the archbishop characterized as spiritually contrary to the pro-life movement. The program also featured a Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse among its foremost pages. 

As temperatures dropped and steady snow fell outside the basilica, attendees expressed their convictions that Catholic journalism is key to sharing the message of the pro-life movement with fellow Catholics and others around the world.

 “I think that light needs to be shed on Catholic journalism and helping people be able to make those points back to those who are listening to all of that journalism that may not support what we believe in,” said Kate Foster, 21, a Catholic university student from Massachusetts. 

“I think, especially being an out-of-state student, that life should be preserved from the moment it begins to the moment it ends. And any way that we can help to preserve that, we would like to,” said Foster.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019