Young adults and youth take part in a rally before the 2016 Mass for Life at the Verizon Center.
CS PHOTO BY JACLYN LIPPELMANN Young adults and youth take part in a rally before the 2016 Mass for Life at the Verizon Center.
Because of the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump with its parade and festivities, this year’s archdiocesan Rally and Mass For Life and the annual national March for Life will be held Jan. 27, about a week later than usually held.

The Archdiocese of Washington this year will once again host a rally for adults and families in addition to the two youth rallies and Masses it traditionally hosts before the annual March for Life.

The Adult and Family Rally & Mass for Life will be held Friday, Jan. 27 at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, 1725 Rhode Island Ave., N.W. The rally begins at 9 a.m. and Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m.

Washington Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville will celebrate the bilingual Mass with Father Bill Parent, pastor of St. Elizabeth Parish in Rockville, serving as homilist.

“Beginning our journey on the March for Life with Mass reminds each of us that Christ is with us. He joins us as we March. He suffers with us, and He hears our prayers,” said Mary Forr, director of the Department of Life Issues for the Archdiocese of Washington. “As sons and daughters of Christ, we must witness to the dignity and worth of every human being from conception to natural death. We must stand up against the evils that attack the dignity of the human person. There is no better way to begin this witness than with the Mass where the Author of Life is truly present.”

The adult and family rally will include husband and wife Kevin “Seamus” Hasson and Mary Rice Hasson as the featured speakers.

Seamus Hasson is the founder and president emeritus of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, known for its successful Supreme Court cases on behalf of Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor, among others, as well as its successful defense of “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. Mary Rice Hasson is a fellow in the Catholic Studies Program of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where she directs the Catholic Women’s Forum, an initiative that responds to Pope Francis’s call for Catholic women to assume a higher profile within the Church and to think with the Church in addressing the problems of today.

The event – sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington and organized by the Association of Ecclesial Movements and the New Communities – is open to the public and no tickets or reservations are required. It is scheduled to end at 11:30 a.m. so that participants can attend the noon start of the March.

The archdiocese will also host its Youth Rally and Mass for Life again at two locations: the Verizon Center and the D.C. Armory. Both venues require tickets and no one will be admitted without a ticket.

The youth rally has been an archdiocesan tradition for more than 20 years. A second venue was added several years ago when the event became so popular it became necessary to expand so that more young people can attend.

The Verizon Center opens at 7 a.m. on the day of the March for Life and the D.C. Armory opens at 6:30 a.m. Both locations feature concerts, testimonials, and an opportunity for Confession and Mass. 

Performers at the Verizon Center rally include Steve Angrisano, a musician, composer and youth minister; and the Josh Blakesley Band, a Christian rock band. The D.C. Armory rally will feature performer Paul Kim, a beatboxer and motivational speaker; and PJ Anderson, a Christian singer and songwriter.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the United States, will be the celebrant of the 9:30 a.m. Mass at the Verizon Center. Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the recently elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the former chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, will be the celebrant of the 9:30 a.m. Mass at the D.C. Armory.

Just as with the Adult and Family Rally for Life, the youth rallies are scheduled to end in time for participants to attend for the national March for Life.

Forr said the two youth rallies prove to be very popular because “we have a generation that has known nothing but legalized abortion and they see just how tragic it is.”

“This current generation especially has seen the pain and suffering caused by abortion and has seen the struggle women who have had abortions go through,” she said. “They want to protect the mother and the child.”

Shrine to host National Prayer Vigil for Life

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington will host the annual National Prayer Vigil for Life Jan. 26-27, the evening before and morning of the national March for Life.

The all-night pro-life prayer vigil held on the eve of the March for Life generally draws about 20,000 pilgrims from across the nation who pray through the night.

Events at the National Shrine begin Thursday, Jan. 26, as Confessions will be heard from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and again from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. in the Our Lady of Hostyn Chapel on the lower level of the National Shrine.

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, will be the principal celebrant and homilist at the vigil’s 5:30 p.m. opening Mass in the National Shrine’s Great Upper Church.

At 8:30 p.m. in the National Shrine’s Crypt Church, there will be a recitation of the National Rosary for Life led by Pittsburgh Bishop David A. Zubik. At 10 p.m., also in the Crypt Church, Byzantine-Rite Night Prayer will be prayed with Bishop Kurt Burnette, bishop of the Byzantine Eparchy of Passaic, N.J. Father Elias Carr, a canon regular from the Canon of Klosterneuburg Austria, will be the homilist.

From 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., seminarians from across the country will lead Holy Hours for Life in the Crypt Church. 

At 6 a.m. on Jan. 27, the morning of the march, the National Shrine will host Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament in the Crypt Church. At 6:30 p.m., Morning Prayer, Benediction and Reposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament will be offered by Dominicans from the Dominican House of Study.

At 7 a.m., the National Prayer Vigil for Life will close with a Mass in the Great Upper Church celebrated by New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond.