ďI was very happy with the number of youth from Boston who participated in the March for Life this year.Ē Pilot photo/Courtesy Office for the New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults
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Last weekend (Jan. 15 through Jan. 18), I participated at the Sixth World Meeting of Families in Mexico City and then flew to Washington, D.C. Wednesday for the March for Life.
The World Meeting of Families took place in a very modern convention center in Santa Fe -- which is a new area of Mexico City. More than 10,000 participants from all over the world, including 300 bishops and cardinals, attended the Meeting of Families, which was organized by the Holy See.
This Conference was Cardinal Antonelliís first as the new Prefect of the Pontifical Council for the Family. He replaced Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo who passed away last spring, and who did an outstanding job particularly in promoting the Gospel of Life.
It was a very important event to energize all of those working in family life ministry and in pro-life offices throughout the world.
I gave one of the talks on Friday morning during the Lectio Divina, meditating on the Gospel of the Good Samaritan.
On Saturday, we had a very moving vigil service at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe -- it was the most beautiful testimony I have ever heard from families throughout the world.
Then we had the closing Mass on Sunday morning. We had a huge crowd of people outside of the basilica and we received a message from the Holy Father and received his blessing at the end of the Mass. It was then announced that the next conference will be held in Milan in 3 years.
As I mentioned in last weekís blog, one of the more comic experiences for me was that, all throughout the week, people kept on asking for my autograph and telling me how much they enjoyed my books, because they all thought I was Father Raniero Cantalamessa!
From Mexico City we had planned to fly to Washington on Tuesday, but our flight was canceled due to mechanical problems, so we had to stay an extra night in Mexico City. Fortunately, however, I was still able to arrive in time to participate at the traditional Vigil Mass that takes place at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception the evening before the March for Life.
The Basilica was, of course, very, very crowded for the vigil. The procession of seminarians, priests and bishops took about 20 minutes to get us all into the basilica.
Thursday morning we were supposed to go to the Verizon Center for a pre-march rally and Mass with the youth, but by 7:30 it was already filled.
So the Boston group was unable to get in. We had over 100 seminarians there from Boston as well as several bus loads of young people from parishes but our group couldnít get in. So we went to nearby Holy Rosary Parish and had Mass for them there.
Afterwards, I met the Blessed John XXIII seminarians for lunch, and then went to the march. We had a beautiful day for it. People were very enthusiastic.
The rally on the National Mall ended with Cardinal Justin Rigali -- the chairman of the USCCBís pro-life committee -- introducing the bishops who were there. Then Bishop Knestout, the new auxiliary of Washington, concluded with a prayer.
At the march, we did not get a call from the president this year. We were all praying for that miracle, but that didnít happen.
Everyone is praying that the new administration will come to realize how important the pro-life cause is, and will begin to understand the obligations of government to protect the most vulnerable of our society, especially the unborn.