Archdiocese Local

National March for Life invites virtual participation this year

People arrive for the National Prayer Vigil for Life Jan. 23, 2020, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 vigil will be broadcast-only on Jan. 28 at 7 p.m., and then bishops from across the country will take turns leading livestreamed Holy Hours throughout the all-night vigil. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

by Joe Bollig

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — This year, as in the past, there will be pro-life activities in Washington and Topeka in January to mark the anniversary of the two 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decisions that legalized abortion.

However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the presidential inauguration, there have been changes for the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.

In Washington, pro-life events have been scheduled for Jan. 28-29 to avoid conflicting with the presidential inauguration.

Since pandemic restrictions are in place, there are attendance restrictions for the National Prayer Vigil for Life and Masses in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.

Instead, Catholics at the National March for Life and those across the country are being encouraged to participate in events at the basilica via livestream or view a broadcast by the Eternal Word Television Network.

(The basilica’s livestream link is on its website at: Information about the bishop-led vigil can be found on the USCCB’s website at:

Bishops from across the country will lead livestreamed Holy Hours throughout the night, said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

“Now, more than ever, our nation is in need of prayer for the protection of the unborn and the dignity of all human life,” said Archbishop Naumann.

“I am happy to be joined by bishops in dioceses across the country who are hosting pro-life prayer events including the overnight hours of eucharistic adoration,” he added. “I invite all Catholics to spend time with Our Lord and join in this nationwide vigil for life.”

The National Prayer Vigil at the basilica will begin with a rosary at 7 p.m. on Jan. 28, followed by the opening Mass at 7:30 p.m. The principal celebrant and homilist will be Archbishop Naumann. (See below for a list of times and events.)

Kansans for Life made the decision to cancel the state’s March and Rally for Life at the Topeka Capitol this year. But IGNITE and the Kansas Mass for Life with the bishops of Kansas will still take place.

The IGNITE pro-life event for youth at 9 a.m. on Jan. 21 at Most Pure Heart of Mary in Topeka will be held, but attendance will be restricted.

“In-person attendance is by invitation only this year due to Shawnee County COVID restrictions,” said lead consultant for pro-life ministries Debra Niesen. “Representatives from the three other Kansas dioceses and representatives from [archdiocesan] high schools, youth groups and college Catholic campus centers make up that invitation list.

“In the past, we’ve had about 1,500 people in person, but this year we are limited to 100 in person. But we’re going to livestream so all of our students can join virtually.”

The 10:30 a.m. Mass on Jan. 21 at Most Pure Heart of Mary will have restricted attendance, too, but its livestream can be accessed by anyone, said Niesen. (The link is:

The main celebrant will be Archbishop Naumann. The concelebrants will be Bishop John Brungardt of the Diocese of Dodge City, Bishop Carl Kemme of the Diocese of Wichita, Bishop Gerald Vincke of the Diocese of Salina and several other priests from Kansas.

Plans may change due to weather, so Niesen urges participants to check for updates and details online at:

Niesen said it’s very important for people to pray this year because legislators will likely vote on the vital “Value Them Both” State Constitutional Amendment bill. It has to pass both the House and Senate so Kansans can vote on it.

“This is a new legislative session [in January],” said Niesen. “It is very possible the legislators will be voting on the ‘Value Them Both’ [bill] at the start of the session. No date has been set [for a vote], but it could come up very quickly.”

Kansas Mass for Life, Topeka

Jan. 21:

• 10:30 a.m. livestreamed Mass with the bishops of Kansas. The link is: Archbishop Naumann will lead a rosary after Mass, which will be included in the livestream.

National Prayer Vigil and March for Life, Washington

Jan. 28:

• 7 p.m. National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

• 7:30 p.m. opening Mass with Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann

The basilica’s livestream link is on its website at: Information about the bishop-led vigil can be found on the USCCB’s website at:

• All-night vigil after opening Mass

• 7 a.m. closing Mass with Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore

Jan. 29:

10 a.m. concert, rally and March for Life (virtual)

For information, go online to:

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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