High youth turnout expected at pro-life Mass in DC

Mass during the 2011 March for Life weekend at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Mass during the 2011 March for Life weekend at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

.- Organizers of a youth rally and pro-life Mass in Washington, D.C. say a growing U.S. movement in defense of the unborn will draw tens of thousands of young people to the events on Jan. 23.

Christa Lopiccolo, executive director of life issues for the D.C. archdiocese, attributed the expected high turnout to a “growing enthusiasm and dedication” to life among teens and young adults.

Lopiccolo told CNA on Jan. 9 that “the numbers of youth in attendance have been steadily increasing over the years” as society becomes more aware that abortion is not a simple solution a problem.

On Jan. 23, pro-life advocates from around the country will gather in Washington D.C. for a rally on the National Mall and march to the Supreme Court. The events will commemorate the 39th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the U.S.

The Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. will hold its annual youth rally and Mass on the morning of Jan. 23, before the march down Constitution Avenue.

To accommodate the large crowd, both the Verizon Center and the D.C. Armory will be used for the events. The combined venues hold 28,000 people, and tickets for both locations have run out. 

Lopiccolo said that there were many others who had wanted to attend but were unable to get tickets due to high demand.

Starting last year, organizers added five additional sites to accommodate the overflow of people wishing to attend because “there simply isn’t an indoor facility large enough to support the crowds.”

Of those in attendance, between 80 and 90 percent are expected to be young people.

The number of teens and young adults at the march are “remarkably evident,” Lopiccolo said, noting that “today’s youth have grown up with sonograms and other technologies that shed light on the wonder of human development.”

Because of this, they are rejecting the idea that a baby in the womb is a mere “blob of tissue,” she said. Young people are also “very aware that many of their generation are missing” due to almost 40 years of legalized abortion in America.

Lopiccolo said she anticipates an increased turnout for the march this year of people of all faiths – as well as nonbelievers – adding that that polls continue to show that more Americans are considering themselves pro-life.

“As more and more people are convinced of the sacredness of life in its most vulnerable stages, they desire to put that conviction into action and make an impact on the legislation in this country,” she said.

Attendance for the march has consistently been estimated at several hundred thousand in recent years.

Molly O’Connor, 23, a native of Tulsa, Okla., attended the March for Life in both 2006 and 2011.

O’Connor told CNA on Jan. 9 that in addition to noticing that the turnout seemed higher on her second visit, she also observed more diversity among participants. 

“I remember seeing a Yale pro-life group and Jews for Life” she said, adding that many individuals from Catholic organizations were also present.

“I talked with a number of groups from all over the country,” O’Connor said.

She recalled being “amazed” at the number of people who had sacrificed to travel to the nation’s capital in order to “show solidarity and support” for the unborn.

“I was really impacted by the remarkable sense of dedication from people of all walks of life,” she said.

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