WASHINGTON--Over 10,000 pilgrims, many of them youth from schools around the nation, are expected to gather in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to pray for an end to abortion at the Opening Mass of the National Prayer Vigil for Life. The Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday, January 21, at 6:30 p.m., the eve of the annual March for Life. The vigil marks the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision on January 22, 1973, which legalized abortion nationwide. Since the decision was handed down, over 55 million abortions have been legally performed in the United States.
"Roe v. Wade has had tragic consequences for our nation. Roe catapulted us into a Culture of Death that has claimed the lives of millions of unborn children, leaving countless women, men, and families to suffer that loss, often in silence," said Deirdre McQuade, assistant director for policy and communications in the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). "The National Prayer Vigil will be at the heart of the bishops' nationwide '9 Days for Life' campaign of prayer, penance, and pilgrimage to restore respect and protection for human life."
Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, O.F.M., Cap., archbishop of Boston and chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, will be the principal celebrant and homilist at the Opening Mass, concelebrated by fellow cardinals and hundreds of bishops and priests. The overnight Vigil will continue in the Crypt Church of the Basilica with confessions, the National Rosary for Life, night prayer according to the Byzantine Rite, and holy hours led by seminarians from across the country from midnight until 6:00 a.m.
That evening, The Catholic University of America will host more than 1,200 pilgrims overnight.
On Wednesday, January 23, the Basilica will host Eucharistic adoration, morning prayer, and benediction starting at 6 a.m. in the Crypt Church, and a Closing Mass at 7:30 a.m. in the Great Upper Church. Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia will be the principal celebrant and homilist.
The National Prayer Vigil for Life is co-sponsored by the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and The Catholic University of America. The Opening and Closing Masses will be broadcast live by the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).