TRENTON, NJ - Catholic men, women and teens from Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean Counties will join the pro-life community across the nation Jan. 22 in marking the somber anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision by the United States Supreme Court which legalized abortion. Whether walking through the streets of Washington to Capitol Hill, or standing outside the New Jersey State House in Trenton, pro-life supporters will peacefully and prayerfully demonstrate their support for human life in all its stages, in the face of an ever-growing number of threats.

It is estimated that more than 56 million babies have been lost to abortion since the decision. The Catholic Church teaches that every human life, from the moment of conception to natural death, is sacred because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God. All believers are therefore called upon to protect human life and uphold human dignity.

Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., invites the Diocese’s faithful to join him in the nation’s capital Jan. 22, where more than 600,000 people from around the world are expected to peacefully and prayerfully stand in defense of human life. The march begins with a rally on the National Mall, and continues along Constitution Avenue up to Capitol Hill to the Supreme Court and Congress.

More than 1,000 representatives of many of the 107 parishes and 39 Catholic schools in the Trenton Diocese are expected to come out for the 43rd annual march. Buses, sponsored by local Knights of Columbus councils, have been arranged to transport marchers from more than a dozen locations across the Diocese (see updated listing at www.dioceseoftrenton.org/respectlifeministry.)  Local representatives are also expected to travel to Washington via autos and trains.

Those who are unable to travel to Washington are encouraged to take part in events in the Diocese Jan. 22, including a Mass for Life to be celebrated in St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, at 9:30 a.m. followed by the Rally for Life held on the State House steps on West State Street, Trenton, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The annual rally is scheduled to feature a number of speakers including pro-life legislators, leaders of pro-life groups and clergy.

Other events on or around the Roe v. Wade anniversary will take place in parishes across the Diocese’s four counties. (More information to come.)

Participation in the March for Life in Washington is one among many ways that the Catholic Church in the United States emphasizes the responsibility of all people to protect innocent human life.  In anticipation of the Jan. 22 anniversary, the U.S. Catholic Bishops are sponsoring “Nine Days for Life: Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage,” set to runr Jan. 16-24. The initiative is part of the 2015-2016 Respect Life Program with the theme “Every Life is Worth Living.”  Each day of the program raises awareness on issues such as domestic violence, post-abortion healing, pornography addiction and end-of-life matters.

Donna Goodwin, coordinator of the Diocese of Trenton’s Respect Life Ministry, observed, “The March for Life in Washington and the Rally for Life in Trenton play important roles in the Diocese of Trenton’s work to promote human dignity at every stage of life.  The march gives encouragement to those supporters of the pro-life movement who may feel they are the only ones who hold pro-life views.”

Goodwin continued, “The march and the rally allow our legislators both on the state and national level to see the large numbers of their constituents who care passionately about human rights and the right to life from conception to natural death. This is especially important right now in Trenton where the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act [S382,] which would legalize physician-assisted suicide, may be listed for a vote in the State Senate in January.” 

The Diocese of Trenton has created a hashtag so that pilgrims in Washington and Trenton might share their experiences via social media. Pictures, short videos and messages may be shared at #DoTMarch4Life for real-time coverage of the events.

For further information on events planned around the Roe v. Wade anniversary, visit www.trentonmonitor.com and click on NEWS>RESPECT LIFE, or contact Donna Goodwin, coordinator of the diocesan respect life ministry, at 609-403-7192.