WASHINGTON, DC - The National Prayer Vigil for Life will be held from Thursday afternoon, January 26 to Friday morning, January 27, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Over 20,000 pilgrims from around the nation will pray there for an end to abortion before the annual March for Life. The Vigil marks the 44th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion nationwide. Since those decisions, over 57 million abortions have been performed legally in the United States.
The principal celebrant and homilist at the Vigil Opening Mass will be Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities. It will be concelebrated by his fellow cardinals and many of the nation's bishops and priests in the Basilica's Great Upper Church. The Vigil continues overnight in the Crypt Church with confessions, a National Rosary for Life, Byzantine Rite Night Prayer, and holy hours led by seminarians from across the country from 11 p.m.- 6 a.m.
"Each year, the National Prayer Vigil for Life is a joyful, if sober, event, with thousands of young people from around the country. Led by our bishops, we are working to end abortion through prayer, education, advocacy, and acts of mercy," said Deirdre McQuade, assistant director for pro-life communications at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
"This beautiful night of prayer also falls within the bishops' annual prayer and action campaign, 9 Days for Life, which covers a range of life issues," McQuade continued. "Ours is an abortion-wounded nation, and so we pray, too, for healing for mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, and others who are suffering in any way after abortion."
On the day of the March for Life, January 27, the Basilica will host Morning Prayer in the Crypt Church at 6:30 a.m., and then the Vigil's Closing Mass at 7:30 a.m. in the Great Upper Church, with Archbishop Aymond of New Orleans as principal celebrant and homilist.
The National Prayer Vigil for Life is co-sponsored by the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and The Catholic University of America.
Media are welcome to attend the Opening Mass and speak with and interview pilgrims throughout the 14-hour Vigil.
Media should check in at the Basilica's Great Upper Church sacristy and present press credentials to Jacquelyn Hayes or a designated Basilica press representative to receive a press pass. Advance registration is preferred. Footage from the Mass may also be obtained by satellite feed courtesy of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). For coordinates, or to register, contact Jacquelyn Hayes, director of communications for the Basilica, at 202-281-0615 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more details on the overnight National Prayer Vigil for Life and other Washington, DC, Roe v. Wade events, visit www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events. To join thousands nationwide in prayer and action during the U.S. bishops' annual pro-life novena, January 21-29, visit www.9daysforlife.com.