Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl blesses a young woman during the 2011 Youth Rally and Mass for Life at the Verizon Center in Washington. Young people from across the nation packed the arena for the events held in advance of the annual March for Life.
Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl blesses a young woman during the 2011 Youth Rally and Mass for Life at the Verizon Center in Washington. Young people from across the nation packed the arena for the events held in advance of the annual March for Life.
The Archdiocese of Washington will again host its annual Youth Rally and Mass for Life at two venues on the morning of the annual March for Life in Washington. Tens of thousands of young people are expected to attend the Jan. 23 events at the Verizon Center and the D.C. Armory.

Traditionally held each Jan. 22, this year, because Jan. 22 is a Sunday, the annual Youth Rally and Mass for Life - and the march itself - will be held on Monday, Jan. 23. The rallies, Masses and march commemorate the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion on demand.

Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl will be the principal celebrant of a 10 a.m. Mass on Jan. 23 at the Verizon Center following a youth rally there that begins at 7:30 a.m. Other cardinals, bishops and hundreds of priests from around the United States will join in celebrating the Mass. Msgr. Charles Pope, pastor of Holy Comforter-St. Cyrpian Parish in Washington, will be the homilist.

That same morning, Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, will be the principal celebrant of a 10 a.m. Mass at the D.C. Armory, following a youth rally that also begins at 7:30 a.m. Father Greg Shaffer, chaplain at George Washington University, will be the homilist at that Mass.

A total of more than 28,000 young people are expected to attend the two events, some coming from as far as the Virgin Islands and Australia as well from 97 dioceses around the United States. Both events require tickets to attend, and no more tickets are available. As a matter of fact, there is a waiting list of 2,000 people seeking tickets for the Verizon Center and nearly 3,600 people seeking tickets for the D.C. Armory.

This is the second year in a row that overwhelming demand to attend the annual Youth Rally and Mass for Life has led archdiocesan organizers to add a second arena.

Doors will open at 7 a.m. at the Verizon Center and at 6:30 a.m. at the D.C. Armory. Both venues include a 7:30 a.m. rally, Confessions beginning at 8 a.m., recitation of the rosary at 9:30 a.m. and Mass at 10 a.m.

Between the two venues, more than 200 priests will be available to hear Confessions.

Performing at the Verizon Center prior to the Mass will be Catholic recording artists Jacob and Matthew Band and Jackie Francois. Performing at the D.C. Armory will be Catholic artists Ike Ndolo Band and Joia Farmer. Members of the group Apex will serve as emcees at each of the venues. This year, a satellite link will allow interaction between the two locations.

According to a statement from the Archdiocese of Washington, "even with adding the D.C. Armory as a second venue to accommodate nearly 10,000 more teens, demand remains high."

Because no more tickets are available for the Verizon Center and D.C. Armory, Masses for pro-life marchers will be offered between 8:30 a.m. and noon at five overflow sites around Washington. Those Masses will be offered at Immaculate Conception Church; St. Patrick Church; St. Stephen, Martyr Church; Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Church; and St. Mary, Mother of God Church. Tickets are not required to attend Mass at those churches.

Also on Jan. 23, an Adult and Family Rally and Mass for Life will be held at St. Matthew's Cathedral in Washington. The rally begins at 9 a.m. and the Mass will be offered at 10 a.m.

To register for that rally and Mass, visit http://adultrally4life.eventbrite.com.

Meanwhile, as it has done every year since 1979, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will host a national Prayer Vigil for Life, beginning on the evening before the National Rally and March for Life and continuing throughout the night.

This year's National Prayer Vigil for Life will begin Sunday, Jan. 22, at 6:30 p.m. with an opening Mass offered in the Upper Church. Cardinal DiNardo will be the principal celebrant of and homilist at the Mass.

After the opening Mass, the vigil will continue in the Crypt Church with the recitation of the National Rosary for Life at 10 p.m., followed by a Byzantine Rite Night Prayer at 11 p.m. Confessions will be heard from 9:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. in the Our Lady of Hostyn Chapel. The vigil continues overnight with Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament and a holy hour being held every hour on the hour from midnight until 6:30 a.m. on Jan. 23.

At 6:30 a.m., there will be Morning Prayer and Benediction. The Prayer Vigil for Life closes with a Mass for Life at 7:30 a.m. in the Upper Church. New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, will be the principal celebrant of and homilist at the Mass.

The Prayer Vigil for Life at the basilica is open to everyone, and no tickets are required for any of the events.

Following the all night vigil and the Youth Rally and Masses, many of the bishops, priests and the youth will participate in the National March for Life. The event will begin with a noon rally Jan. 23 on the National Mall, followed by a march along Constitution Avenue that will end at the U.S. Supreme Court. From there, participants are urged to meet with members of Congress to lobby on pro-life issues.