WASHINGTON (CNS) — They had come from across the country, a crowd of about 10,000 strong, mostly teens and young adults, filling the DC Armory for a Youth Rally & Mass for Life sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington for out-of-town participants attending the Jan. 22 March for Life.
The archdiocese also again sponsored another rally and Mass at the Verizon Center in downtown Washington mostly for local youth.
Moments before he offered the closing prayer at the DC Armory Mass, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who was the main celebrant there, scanned the crowd from his vantage point near the altar set up at the stage, and said, “It’s really a beautiful sight, to look out and see so many young people saying ‘yes’ to life. How beautiful it is!”
A couple of hours earlier during the rally that preceded the Armory Mass, Cecilia Riepenhoff, a freshman from Lima Central Catholic High School in Ohio, sat in the top row in the farthest section from the altar with about 40 fellow classmates and members of St. Rose Parish in Lima who had ridden a bus for about eight hours to attend the March for Life.
She too, enjoyed the view from her vantage point, as sections of the arena were filled with young marchers wearing an array of bright matching colors, including blue, green, orange and red.
“It’s great to see there are so many people (who are pro-life). … It’s really cool, all these people are here for that,” she told the Catholic Standard, Washington’s archdiocesan newspaper. “They believe what I believe in.”
Alana Babineau, a junior from Holy Family Academy in Manchester, New Hampshire, was part of a two-bus caravan of pro-life marchers from that diocese who made the 10-hour drive to Washington for the rally, Mass and march.
They wore handmade, matching hats and scarves with a black and white checked pattern, and jokingly referred to themselves as “checker-heads.”
Babineau, sitting with her group in a front section near the altar, said it was moving to see so many thousands of people of all ages, coming together to pray and march on behalf of life. “They come to one place, and they are witnesses to life. It’s so amazing!” she said.
During the rally, sections of the boisterous crowd chanted, “I stand,” which was answered with, “For life,” by their peers. Musicians on stage encouraged the participants to wave blue signs reading hashtag #iStand4Life,” and then tweet that message in a social media campaign organized by the archdiocese.
—By Mark Zimmermann, Catholic News Service.