March for Life 2018 Coverage

The sun shone bright on the National Mall as marchers from far and wide waited for the start of the 45th annual March for Life. This year’s march, the largest pro-life demonstration in the United States, had a notable first.

It was the first time that a U.S. president spoke to marchers live via satellite from the White House. President Donald Trump thanked the marchers for their dedication to defending life and promised to do the same in his administration.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge led a large contingent of pro-lifers from parishes and schools from throughout the Diocese of Arlington.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., Reps. Dan Lipinksi, D-Ill., and Chris Smith, R-N.J., spoke to the marchers on the mall.

Ryan credited the rise of the pro-life generation with the fact that truth, science and love are on their side.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash, told the moving story about her unborn baby who was diagnosed with Potter Syndrome, which prevents the fetus from developing kidneys. Beutler and her husband were told it was a fatal condition. Instead of giving up and turning to abortion, Beutler decided to fight for her baby. With the help of an experimental treatment, Beutler said Abigale became the first baby to survive having been born without kidneys. She later received a kidney donation from her father. Abigale, now 4 years old, joined her mother on stage to witness to the miracle of life.

Reproduced with permission from the Arlington Catholic Herald.


Life is VERY Good 2018 Coverage

Evening of Prayer

The EagleBank Arena in Fairfax was teeming with nearly 7,300 young people from across the country who believe Life is VERY Good. The January 18 rally, sponsored by the diocesan office of Youth, Campus and Young Adult Ministries, kicked off the annual March for Life events.

Cheers rang out many times during the evening. The band HawkNelson opened the evening with high energy. Ennie Hickman, president of the missionary organization Adore Ministries, welcomed everyone.

“Human beings caused God to say it is very good,” said Hickman. “You and I are very good and that is something to celebrate. We’re all created good. That’s what this night is about.”

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge gave opening remarks and used the letters of the word rally to reflect on the evening.

“What unites us tonight is reverence for the sacredness of all human life. I hope it reminds you of the sense of awe that you must have on a personal level, that God created you uniquely, a God who loves you and never gives up on you,” said Bishop Burbidge. “Listen to what God wants to say to your heart this evening.”

He told the young people to be a light in the world and say yes. “Be faithful to God’s command,” he said. “Please say, ‘yes, Lord, I come to do your will.’ We are filled with reverence for life. I am so proud of you. God bless you and watch over you always.”

Attendees heard from Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Sister Miriam James Heidland who gave the keynote address.

Using “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” as a backdrop to her message on the march theme “Love Saves Lives,” Sister Heidland talked about the deepest ache of humans when they want to be “seen, known and loved.”

“The deepest ache you and I have that our life is a gift,” she said. “That’s what I love about God is that God makes every person’s life a gift … a complete and total gift.”

Following Sister Heidland’s address was exposition and a Eucharistic procession. As Bishop Burbidge carried the monstrance and processed through the arena, many knelt on the concrete floor, heads bowed in prayer.

The evening concluded with songs led by the Ben Walther Band and Hawk Nelson.

Rett Hillman of Warsaw, who attended with his youth group, said his peers are the “new generation to fight the good fight and raise awareness.”

“This is probably the most important political and spiritual mission of our times,” said Hillman. “It’s impossible to ignore the slaughter of the unborn.” 

Toni Papp, director of youth ministry at Holy Family Church in Dale City, brought 32 youths with her for the evening rally and plans to bring 39 for the morning rally. “I always think it’s good to have our young people introduced to being active in the community, to stand up for something they believe in,” she said. “If they’re not sure what it is, (it’s important) to give an opportunity to learn about it with more people.”

Bishop Burbidge will celebrate Mass in the arena Jan. 19 at 10 a.m. before youths make their way to Washington for the March for Life.

Reproduced with permission from the Arlington Catholic Herald.


2018 LIVG Mass Homily

Morning Rally and Mass

EagleBank Arena in Fairfax filled with more than 5,300 people for the morning Life is VERY Good rally and Mass January 19. The crowd was greeted by Father James R. Searby, chaplain at George Mason University in Fairfax. Ennie Hickman, president of the missionary organization Adore Ministries, gave the keynote address.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge welcomed the crowd and read a letter from the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre.

During his homily, Bishop Burbidge shared examples of light dispelling the darkness.

“The power of God to transform hearts and lives, to dispel darkness with light and to conquer evil with goodness is the faith that unites us today,” said Bishop Burbidge. “I am sure all of us could give examples of how God has done that in our lives and in the world around us.”

Bishop Burbidge reflected on the opening of the Mother of Mercy Free Medical Clinic in Manassas in the place of a former abortion clinic. “The Mother of Mercy Free Clinic stands as a visible sign of the power of God to make all things new, a gift for which we pray as we sadly acknowledge the horrific reality that abortion is legalized in our country,” he said. “This is not God’s law and, as today’s Gospel teaches, it is the Lord to whom we are ultimately accountable. So, we go forth today in His Truth and march peacefully and confidently in our nation’s capital to proclaim what St. Paul reminds us: We are God’s beloved children, created in His very image and likeness and, thus, life at every stage and the dignity of all people must be celebrated and protected.”

Between the evening and morning rallies, 11,109 unique participants attended from 50 dioceses and 26 states.

The largest group attending the morning rally came from Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries with 461. Diocesan middle and high school students totaled 1,635 participants. Between the two events, the state with the most attendees this year was Virginia with 2,978 participants from the Dioceses of Arlington and Richmond combined. More than 2,600 of those were from the Arlington Diocese.

The state with the second-most attendees was Louisiana, with 1,195 for the evening rally from the Archdiocese of New Orleans, the Dioceses of Baton Rouge and Houma-Thibodaux.   

Reproduced with permission from the Arlington Catholic Herald.