Teens take a "selfie" photo with Cardinal O'Malley at the 2015 March for Life in Washington D.C. Pilot file photo/Gregory L. Tracy
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BRAINTREE -- Hundreds of people, many of them youths and young adults, from the Archdiocese of Boston are preparing to attend the 42nd annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., Jan. 22, joining Cardinal Seán O'Malley on a pilgrimage to witness the sacredness of human life.
Over 500 people registered with the Office for the New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults (ONE) for the event, and the archdiocese will be busing many of those registered to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 21.
Those registered through ONE will travel in four groups, called tracks: middle school students, high school students, young adults, and families. This is the first year that the family track has been available.
The itineraries for the middle school and high school tracks include a Life is Very Good Rally at George Mason University on Jan. 21, Mass at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart and the march on Jan. 22, and Mass at the University of Maryland Chapel on Jan. 23. Other activities, including sightseeing, are scattered throughout the schedule.
An annual tradition, Cardinal O'Malley will celebrate the Mass at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, and all pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Boston who attend the March for Life will be invited to join him.
The cardinal is also scheduled to concelebrate the Vigil Mass for Life held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception the evening before the march.
Group leaders have been attending training sessions at the Pastoral Center this month. Several spoke to The Pilot about their preparations for the march.
This will be Andrea Alberti's eighth year leading a group of high school students from St. Mary's High School in Lynn on the march, and in a phone conversation with The Pilot, Jan. 9, she said that 38 students will be going this year.
She said this is the 12th year St. Mary's will be attending the March for Life, and the administration is fully supportive of the event. She noted that a pro-life stance is "really imbued in the culture of the school."
Alberti said that in the past, students have said their favorites parts of the event include "the homily at Mass," or "looking back on the hill during the march and seeing the hundreds of thousands of people."
"We love the program they put out, and we're happy to be a part of it and follow it," she said of the itinerary.
Meghan Lovett, the Assistant Principal at St. Augustine Elementary School in Andover, told The Pilot at a Witness to Life Leadership Team Training event at the Pastoral Center, Jan. 12, that this is her second year bringing a group of students to the March for Life.
This year, six students from St. Augustine will be going, and Lovett said she will not allow her students to bring cellphones with them in order to make the trip a "prayerful journey."
She said the six students have been meeting two times a week, beginning before Christmas. Lovett said that the subjects of those meetings change, but she tries "to combine Scripture with more factual things about the trip itself."
To prepare around 25 middle school students traveling from Lawrence Catholic Academy for the march, Tyler Andradel, Director of Youth Ministry at the school, told The Pilot they have been instructed to pray at home.
"They're all taking their time basically get comfortable with prayer at home, because they know it will be a key part of the March for Life," he said at the team training event.