March for Life

As I write this, I am in Peru visiting with the Missionary Society of St. James the Apostle, as they celebrate their 50th anniversary. Accompanying me on the trip are a number of Boston priests who are either currently serving or have served the Society in the past, including Bishop Bob Hennessey. Since I have only recently arrived, I will wait and share the full experience with you in my next week’s post.

– – –

Before I begin this week’s entry, I’d like return briefly to the subject of last week’s post. If you recall, I wrote last week about a retreat I gave for Denver seminarians at the St. Malo center in the Rocky mountains. This group photo we took at the end of the retreat just arrived earlier this week and I wanted to share it with you.


– – –

From Denver I flew to the Washington D.C . area to meet up with the Boston archdiocesan pilgrimage to the 35th annual March for Life.


The “Pilgrims for Life” group left Brighton Sunday morning
after celebrating Mass at Bishop Peterson Hall


Our first event together was on Sunday. I celebrated an evening of prayer, praise and adoration with the pilgrims from Boston and Fall River at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia.


The Boston group, all high school students, were accompanied by several priests: Father Dan Hennessey, Father Michael Harrington, Father Michael Nolan and Father Matt Williams. In all, around 450 high schools students and their chaperones participated at the vigil.

The group included students from Catholic Memorial in Boston, Pope John XXIII in Everett, St. Mary in Lynn, Presentation of Mary Academy in Methuen, Arlington Catholic, Malden Catholic, Fontbonne Academy in Milton, Nazareth Academy in Wakefield, Cathedral High school in Boston, Trinity Catholic in Newton. Traveling with them were members of the young adult group from Immaculate Conception in Marlboro, the Franciscan Sisters Minor in Bellingham, a group of adults from Sacred Heart in Malden and a group of musicians from the LIFT program. A reporter from the Pilot also traveled with the group. You can read her article on the trip in this week’s Pilot by clicking here.




I gave a talk to the young people about the importance of their presence there and reflected about the experience of being Catholic in today’s world.

The Arlington Catholic Herald, the newspaper of the diocese, printed a nice story about our gathering. You can read it on the newspaper’s website.


I have always encouraged young people, both when I was the bishop in Fall River and now in Boston, to be a part of the March for Life. It is an opportunity for them to live their faith and to experience the testimony of thousands of other young Catholics who are there with them, all enthused about being Catholic and defending the Gospel of Life.



The following day, the group visited some of the historic sites of Washington as well as some of the places of interest for our Catholic faith.


The group at the Lincoln memorial

In the evening, we joined in the Vigil Mass that was celebrated at the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Bishops, cardinals, priests, permanent deacons, seminarians and thousands of religious and lay people participated in the Mass. This event is always a very important part of the March for Life.



The Basilica was packed

The Knights of Columbus from Boston were there accompanying us and, I am proud to say, they sponsored the trip for all our seminarians.


The Mass was presided over by Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, who also preached at the Mass. The choir was, of course, spectacular. The presence of so many young people was very, very encouraging.



The next day we participated at the rally that took place at the Verizon Center sport arena.




The center holds about 20,000 people and it was full. Archbishop Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, presided at the Mass and a young black priest from Washington preached, which I thought was a very appropriate way of marking Martin Luther King Day. He gave a lovely reflection on the pro-life theme.



In the center of the arena, organizers placed all the seminarians present at the rally, around 600 of them, coming from all over the country. That was a wonderful witness. At one point, Archbishop Wuerl asked all the seminarians to stand up and they received a standing ovation from all the young people. It was an affirmation of our seminarians and, at the same time, an invitation to young people to consider a life of service and ministry in the Church.




From there, we went to a stage prepared on the National Mall to accommodate the speakers and community leaders at the March for Life.


President Bush sent a recorded message and there were messages from several politicians, including presidential candidate John McCain.


Many politicians were also present, including Senator Brownback whom I recently met in Boston at this year’s Red Mass. There were also many religious leaders — Jewish rabbis, Greek Orthodox prelates and ministers from different evangelical communities as well as many Catholic bishops. After the speeches, the group marched to the Supreme Court.



The march was very well attended, around 200,000 people. The day before the march, the Washington Post printed an article about the Catholic college students who come from around the country to participate in the march. It seems that some in the secular media are beginning to recognize the fact that the young Catholics are on board with the Gospel of Life and that this issue is not going to go away.

– – –

For the photo of the week, I have chosen this group photo of the Boston seminarians and youth pilgrims taken at the Verizon Center before the March for Life. Their witness is encouraging. I also thank all of you who offered your prayers of support for the march. Let us all continue to pray that every life is respected from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.


Cardinal Seán

15 thoughts on “March for Life”

  1. WOW! What a beautiful website. I just quickly glanced at all of the beautiful pictures of the places you have been and what you are doing. I know that I will be coming back to read more. Actually Archbishop Sean, I was concerned about Fr. Frank Pavone, of the Priest’s For Life, making public his support for John McCain for President. I realize that he has a right to give his individual support for any candidate that he wants. I’m concerned because this information could infuence a lot of people to vote for McCain, who I believe is not the best candidate in the ’08 election. I really do not think McCain stands a chance against OBama or Clinton in this election. But there is one whom I believe can put up a good fight and possibly win against either Obama or Clinton, regardless of what the polls and media show. Have you had time to examine the library on Dr. Alan Keyes website? Would you please give me a few words on what you think about Alan Keyes that I may share with others and publish on my blog?

  2. Cardinal O’Malley,
    I was one of the 300+ pilgrims from the Fall River Diocese!! Your message to us at the youth rally on Sunday night really struck me… indeed, we are champions – champions of and for Christ, His Church, and Life!! It was a great blessing to be able to worship and pray with our brothers and sisters in the archdiocese. It was my second time at the March. You’re in my prayers!! Pax tecum!!

  3. would have loved to have been a “fly on the wall” in Washington DC…. too old……must have been great.

  4. Thank you, Cardinal O’Malley for your zeal and committment to the Gospel of Life. I praise the Lord for having come across this blog! Wow, I would have never guessed to read a Cardinal’s blog. What a tremendous way to spread the faith!
    I thank Him for you, and for all that you do.
    It would be a great honor to meet you in person some day! If you are ever in New Hampshire, please visit Magdalen College. God bless you.

  5. Every year I think that I should take the day off from work and make the trip to Washington and somehow I never do. My gratitude to all who do more than I.

  6. Excellent witness for life, and being Catholic. Even still, not enough volunteers stand at the door of Planned Parenthood on Commonwealth Ave (Babcock Street – B Greenline T stop), So I hope more young people of all ages will stand at the gate of the slaughter, and witness to the sacredness of the unborn. More people are needed every day.

  7. Dear Cardinal Sean, Your enthusiasm for promoting vocations is wonderful and you never fail to acknowledge seminarians. I understand that men and women of all ages and at any possible time in life might be called by the Lord. It is not only “young” people (an undefined age group), as you stress, who follow Christ. May we raise awareness of the gift of discernment among all people, regardless of age. In fact, it might be more fruitful to emphasize that the men and women others do not consider to be young should most listen for the call. The bias towards “young” sends the message that those who exceed this age need not apply. I pray that is not the case.

  8. I enjoy your blog and find it so wonderful. The media is so selective in what it chooses to print, your web site helps me to realize how many wonderful things are happening in our faith. We are active members of Saint Mary’s Star of the Sea Parish in Beverly and we are celebrating Catholic Schools week at our parish school were my daughter Sarah is a 6th grader. It is a wonderful place and I am so blessed to have this community in our lives. I am looking forward to the Popes visit in April and wish I could attend this special Mass with my family.

  9. Since the first Anniversary in 1974 the Right to Life March has now embraced another generation. I pray that this generation abjure the errors of that generation of Catholics, the majority of which, disregarded HUMANAE VITAE in regard to the intrinsic evil of contraception, and embrace the whole, integral culture of life.

    Fr. John A. Peek
    Society for the Latin Mass
    West Roxbury, MA

  10. Dear Cardinal Sean,
    With Lent approaching, I wonder if you would broach the subject of fasting. I typically fast during lent, sometimes advent and at various points throughout the year depending on my prayer intention. I usually fast two or three days a week on bread and water. My aunt, who is a lay Franciscan of a primitive order has told me not to fast this year because I am currently nursing a newborn.
    Obviously, the health of my baby comes first and I am not intending to fast this year but how do I keep my prayer effective without fasting? I’m afraid if I don’t make fasting a part of my Lent then I would tend to ignore this special time of year.
    Thank you for reading this! Christine

  11. I praise God for you, Cardinal Sean and I thank you for your untiring support in defending life and encouraging the youth to do the same. I was fortunate to watch on EWTN : the West Coast Walk For Life, the Washington March For Life and the awesome Vigil Mass at the Shrine. Your pictures tonight also include the 20,000 youth gathered at the rally in the Verizon Center sport arena. You also mention the standing ovation for the 600 seminarians present there. I am so encouraged to continue to pray for them and for you good Cardinal Bishop of Boston diocese. Would you kindly pray for the prolife movement in Canada and for our country. Proud to be a prolife,
    Sr Cécile in Moncton NB Canada

Comments are closed.

January 2008