On the Eve Before the March

For those who have never been to Washington, D.C.‘s March for Life, they may not be aware of just how much pro-life activity is going on around the city in the days leading up to the actual March, which takes place following a noon rally on Monday. Several Register staff will be in attendance at the March, and various other events, blogging, Facebooking, and Tweeting live as possible. Register editors Tom Wehner and John Burger will be in attendance, as will writers Steven Greydanus and myself. In fact, believe it or not, while I’ve been a Catholic journalist for nearly 12 years, this will be my first time attending D.C.‘s March for Life. I’ve attended our local March for Life in St. Paul many times, but never the one in D.C.

To give you some idea of the scope of all of the supporting events taking place, here are just a few.


Today, the 12th Annual Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life takes place at Georgetown University, sponsored by Georgetown University’s Right to Life, Georgetown University’s Knights of Columbus, the University’s Catholic Daughters of America, and the University’s Faculty for Life. The Conference features an amazing lineup of speakers, including a keynote by Live Action founder Lila Rose, Register and National Review writer Kathryn Jean Lopez, Population Research Institute’s founder Steven Mosher, and others. A panel discussion will feature: Helen Alvaré, Mother Agnes Mary Donovan of the Sisters of Life, Diocese of Bridgeport Bishop William Lori, Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, and Rev. Joseph Koterski, S.J. 

In addition, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities has invited pro-life leaders to an afternoon Mass, celebrated by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, at the Catholic University of America, followed by a reception. This is the third year that the Committee has hosted this event specifically for pro-life leaders.

All day, the March for Life Convention takes place at Washington’s Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Between 3-5 p.m., a Mini-Rally takes place outside the White House. This was a new addition to the activities, beginning last year.

The National Prayer Vigil for Life begins in earnest at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception this evening with Opening Mass in the Great Upper Church at 6:30 p.m. Cardinal DiNardo will also be the principal celebrant and homilist at this Mass.

Following the Opening Mass, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is offered between 10 p.m. and midnight in the Basilica’s Our Lady of Hostyn Chapel. A National Rosary for Life takes place in the Crypt Church between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. Night prayer takes place in the Crypt Church between 11 p.m. and midnight, followed by Holy Hours for Life with pro-life seminarians from across the country from midnight until 6:30 a.m.


The day of the March, Monday morning prayer takes place in the Crypt Church at 6:30 a.m., followed by a Closing Mass in the Great Upper Church at 7:30 a.m., celebrated by Bishop William Lori.

Meanwhile, because not everyone can fit in the Basilica, which is usually filled to overflowing, the giant Youth Rally and Mass for Life takes place at the Verizon Center between 7:30 - 11:30 a.m. Most of the Catholic universities have hundreds of students who attend this. As an example, Franciscan University of Steubenville expects at least 800 students, faculty, and friends to attend the March. The students alone are filling seven buses and vans. At Christendom College, in Front Royal, Va. the entire college takes the day off so that students and faculty can attend the March.

Father Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, is delivering the homily at a pro-life service on Capitol Hill between 8-10 a.m. as part of “The National Clergy Conference for the Pre-Born and their Mothers and Fathers” at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in Room HVC 201. Visitors are welcome to attend, but should read the details regarding security procedures.

At noon, the Rally for Life on the Mall takes place, followed by the March for Life, which begins between 1-1:30 p.m. The March goes along Constitution to the Capitol building and ends at the Supreme Court.

Another first, for this year, is the National Pro-Life Youth Rally taking place after the March, between 2-5 p.m. near Union Station. This Rally will include the band Barlow Girl, and speakers such as Bella star, Eduardo Verastegui, Dr. Alveda King, former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson, 40 Days for Life director David Bereit, Lila Rose, and others.

At 6 p.m., the 29th Annual Rose Dinner takes place at the Hyatt Regency.

For a more complete listing of all of the activities taking place in D.C., visit the Students for Life of America website. I haven’t even mentioned all of the various Marches and Rallies taking place elsewhere across the country. Stay tuned to the Register’s website and blog, as well as Facebook and Twitter for more updates.