By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published January 8, 2016
ATLANTA—On the Jan. 22 anniversary of the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, Catholics will gather in Atlanta and in Washington, D.C., for a day of prayer for the legal protection of unborn children.
A Mass for the Unborn will begin at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral of Christ the King, 2699 Peachtree Road, NE, in Atlanta. Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory will be principal celebrant of the Mass, which will include a commissioning of Respect Life leaders from across the archdiocese. Deacon Dennis Dorner, chancellor, and Deacon Richard Tolcher will assist at the Mass.
The Office of Life, Dignity and Justice and the Respect Life Ministry are the sponsors of the 27th annual Mass. Afterward, Stand for Life participants will hold prepared signs proclaiming the sanctity of life along a two-mile stretch of Peachtree Road between 12 and 12:30 p.m. Those who wish to take part in the silent demonstration must register in advance with the Respect Life Ministry director, Brendan Dudley.
Dudley expects a large group of Catholic school students to attend the Mass at the cathedral.
“We also have a number of parishes and schools attending the events in Washington, D.C.,” said Dudley.
Some of the parish and school groups traveling to the nation’s capital for the annual March for Life and related events sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington include: St. Pius X High School, Atlanta; Pinecrest Academy, Cumming; Our Lady of Mercy High School, Fayetteville; Blessed Trinity High School, Roswell; Holy Spirit Preparatory School, Atlanta; St. Bernadette Church, Cedartown; St. Brendan the Navigator Church, Cumming; St. Marguerite d’Youville Church, Lawrenceville; St. Michael the Archangel Church, Woodstock; St. Michael Church, Gainesville; and St. Pius X Church, Conyers.
‘500,000 people … for life’
Ten teens from St. Bernadette Church will be accompanied by youth minister Maria Rodriguez and pastor Father Timothy Gallagher to Washington.
“Our Right to Life pilgrimage will include our participation in the Youth Rally and Mass, the March for Life, as well as visits to the St. John Paul II Shrine, Franciscan Holy Land Monastery and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception,” said Rodriguez.
Tony Maturo, Respect Life chairman at St. Michael Church in Gainesville, said this is the parish’s fourth year of organizing the bus trip to Washington.
The group has 34 people making the pilgrimage, with six spots still available on the bus. Parishioners from St. Andrew Church in Roswell, St. Jude the Apostle Church in Sandy Springs, and St. Pius X Church in Conyers will join the St. Michael trip.
St. Andrew’s contingent includes an American Heritage Girls troop. American Heritage Girls is an organization that emphasizes Christian values and encourages family involvement.
Maturo said the pilgrims are mostly 25 or younger, which reflects the demographics of those participating in the national March for Life. The group will depart from Gainesville at 5 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21, and return on Sunday, Jan. 24.
“I attend and lead groups to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., because being around 500,000 people who are all for life gives me such a feeling of excitement, exuberance, and most of all, hope,” said Maturo in an email.
He added that this hope comes from the number of young people attending and his belief that this generation of future parents, leaders and lawmakers will help to make abortion unacceptable in society.
“The atmosphere in Washington, D.C., at every March for Life turns a sad day into a celebration of life,” he added.