Father James Grogan, then-parochial vicar of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Moorestown, and Claire Howson, parish bus captain, join other diocesan faithful at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., in 2017. This year’s march will be Jan. 19. Jennifer Mauro photo

Father James Grogan, then-parochial vicar of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Moorestown, and Claire Howson, parish bus captain, join other diocesan faithful at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., in 2017. This year’s march will be Jan. 19. Jennifer Mauro photo

From staff reports

Faithful of the Diocese of Trenton will have numerous opportunities to be part of the 45th annual March for Life, the world’s largest pro-life demonstration, through Masses and other events being held within the Diocese as well as the march Jan. 19 in Washington, D.C.

The March for Life and the events around it mark the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton, legalizing abortion.

Under the theme “Love Saves Lives,” more than 100,000 are expected to descend on the nation’s capital for the noon march, which will begin on the National Mall between Madison and Jefferson Drives and proceed down Constitution Avenue. The march will head toward the U.S. Capitol and the Supreme Court of the United States. Unlike years past, this year’s march will not be on the grounds of the Washington Monument due to a National Park Service refurbishing project.

Pilgrims from across the Diocese of Trenton wanting to participate can depart locally on buses from various locations.

Rachel Hendricks, diocesan Coordinator for Respect Life Ministries, urged faithful from the Diocese to “be a voice for the voiceless” and called the atmosphere at the March for Life welcoming and joy-filled.

“This year’s theme so beautifully captures our mission as Catholics, to reach out in love to one another so that we may have the abundant life for which we are all made,” she said.

“I would also encourage parents, Catholic schools and youth programs to get more of our teens involved in the March for Life,” she continued. “For many young people, attending the March for Life deeply affects the way they see the abortion issue, and often moves them to be more active in pro-life activities.”

Events Within the Diocese

Closer to home, faithful in the Diocese of Trenton may show their love for life in all its forms at events slated for Jan. 18 and Jan. 22.

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., will be principal celebrant of a Mass set for 7 p.m. Jan. 18 in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. The Mass, in years past held early the same morning as the March, was transferred to the evening prior to enable buses of pilgrims to arrive in Washington in time to hear the speakers.

Msgr. Sam Sirianni, Co-Cathedral rector, advocated both marchers and those unable to attend the Washington rally to come together to pray for life at the Mass, stating, “It’s important to remember that the March for Life is not a demonstration. It’s a public act of faith. We need to pray for all levels of life. The dignity of life is under attack at every stage,” he said.

The Bishop will again serve as principal celebrant at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 22 for the diocesan Mass for Life in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, 151 N. Warren St., Trenton. Hendricks called the shepherd’s leadership and homily “always a great learning experience… Bishop O’Connell will reinforce our beliefs about the sanctity of all human life and renew us in our pro-life efforts.”

Those willing and able may join a procession after the Mass for a public rally outside the State House Annex at 145 West State St., where the annual N.J. Rally for Life will be held outside from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The rally, sponsored by the N.J. Right to Life organization, will feature speakers from the pro-life movement, elected officials and clergy hailing from throughout the state.

Speakers Set for D.C. March

Those who descend on Washington will be greeted by numerous planned speakers.

This year’s lineup includes Pam Tebow, mother of NFL/MLB star Tim Tebow; former NFL player and Catholic speaker Matt Birk and his wife, Adrianna; Democratic Congressman Dan Lipinski of Illinois; Congressman Chris Smith, a Republican representing New Jersey and hailing from Hamilton Square’s St. Gregory the Great Parish, and Sister of Life Bethany Madonna. Additionally, best-selling Christian music artist Plumb is set to perform.

March for Life organizers also invited White House officials to speak but gave no indication of whether they would attend. Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the event last year. 

A day before the rally and march, the March for Life organization will host a conference and an expo, as well as a session with instructions on how to track legislators’ votes and provide “tools to lobby.”

“The March for Life is nonpartisan, or bipartisan. We’re also nonsectarian; we always try to get people from both sides of the political aisle to speak at the March for Life,” said Jeanne Mancini, March for Life president, adding that it’s not always an easy task. 

Rhina Guidos of the Catholic News Service contributed to this report.

2017 March for Life Coverage

• Local faithful journey to Washington for March for Life

March for Life an opportunity for witness in young adults 

Diocese's faithful gearing up for annual March for Life in Washington