Friday, January 22, 2010

Annual Pro-Life Mass at the Shrine...

The annual Mass for Life took place last night at the National Shrine across the street from me. As always, it was a moving event of public witness. I still think that it gets bigger every year. I timed the procession alone at around 45 mins. It was estimated that there were over 400 seminarians, 250-300 priests, something like 40-50 bishops, as well as 7 cardinals. This in addition to a crowd of somewhere around 8,000, which included a healthy number of consecrated religious and novices/postulants (a category that, with seminarians, has seen the largest increase in recent years).

It's not only a powerful pro-life witness, it is also somewhat of a reunion. I had the opportunity to chat with several former parishioners of mine who had made the trip from back home, which was very nice. Was able to catch-up with several priest friends as well. This year was also a first for me as I accompanied our Archbishop Kurtz to a Mass at the Franciscan Monastery earlier in the afternoon for leaders of pro-life and social justice ministries across the country. This Mass was begun last year as a way of bringing the various leaders of pro-life and social justice organizations together to foster their common goal of promoting the dignity of all life. Judging by the size and enthusiasm of the crowd there, I would say that it has been a success.

This morning there are various Masses being held around the city, the largest being the Mass for youth at the Verizon Center. This Mass has grown so much over the years that they now require tickets (free of course) to help manage the size of the crowd. It was reported that this year the tickets were gone in 45 minutes (we're talking thousands of tickets here!). This afternoon will be the march itself, which annually draws in excess of 150,000 (by far the largest crowd for a similar event in DC in any given every year). Let's hope the weather holds out for them (so far it's not as bad as the weathermen predicted - freezing rain and snow...).

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