TRENTON, NJ - Catholics in the Diocese of Trenton will join their counterparts around the world in prayer for the unborn Nov. 27, the eve of the First Sunday of Advent.

The worldwide vigil for “all nascent human life” was urged by Pope Benedict XVI, who will preside over an evening prayer vigil in St. Peter's Basilica Nov. 27 and asked that parishes, religious communities, associations and movements around the world hold vigils of their own.

The Diocese of Trenton’s Vigil Mass will be celebrated by Coadjutor Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., in St. James Church, Pennington, Nov. 27 at 5 p.m. Parishes around the diocese will likewise be conducting their own vigils at some point over the next week.

In his call to the Church community, Pope Benedict asked the faithful to pray for the unborn and their parents, for an end to abortion and research that destroys embryos, and recognition of the dignity of every human life.

“The season of preparation for Christmas is an appropriate time for invoking divine protection over every human being called into existence and for thanking God for the gift of life we received from our parents,” the pope said.

In a mid-November letter to all pastors and parish administrators of the diocese, Bishop John M. Smith wrote, “Let us be united in prayer on this very important date.”

According to Linda Richardson, director of the diocesan Office of Family Life, the prayer vigil is an important opportunity for Catholics to join together in support of the unborn.  “Society has come to accept abortion as an acceptable option for unplanned pregnancy and ever since Roe v. Wade, people of good will have been crying out for justice for these unborn children,” Richardson said.

“We hope that many parishes will join with our Holy Father in a worldwide prayer for the defense of nascent human life so that society will once again recognize the dignity and rights of all persons, from the moment of conception until natural death,” she said.

All are welcome to attend the diocesan Mass, or one in their local parish. To learn more about the worldwide vigil, go to