The annual Mass for Life and Eucharistic procession Sunday, Jan. 19 is a chance for everyone in the Diocese of Little Rock to come together as a universal Church and stand up for a consistent ethic of life.
“It doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s for you to come and celebrate life together,” said diocesan respect life office director Catherine Phillips. “So we want to be inclusive.”
While the spirit of the events will mirror years past, there are some updates to the weekend activities. The Mass for Life, beginning at noon, will be held at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock, as Robinson Center was unavailable for Mass this year.
The Wally Allen Ballroom, the same venue where the annual Taste of Faith dinner is held in Little Rock to benefit seminarians, will hold 1,200 people.
Diocesan Vicar General Father John Connell will celebrate the bilingual Mass, along with any other priests and deacons who would like to attend. Bishop Anthony B. Taylor will be in Rome for his ad limina visit with Pope Francis.
Last year, the diocese held its first Eucharistic procession, carrying the Blessed Sacrament through Riverfront Park while hundreds of people stopped to pray at various stations. Starting again at 10 a.m. in front of the DoubleTree Hotel, faithful will process for about an hour through the park, stopping at about six stations for prayer, including those hosted by the Serra Club, Knights of Columbus Council #812, Hispanics from St. Anne Church in North Little Rock and the Igbo Mass community.
Phillips said for those who cannot walk the roughly mile-long procession, Team Jesus, the high school youth band from Christ the King in Little Rock, will be stationed in front of the DoubleTree, providing music and prayer. When the procession reaches that point, they will continue down Markham Street until reaching the Statehouse Convention Center, about a five-minute walk.
“That’s really cool because it gives us some real public visibility … that’s the whole purpose to witness to our faith,” Phillips said. “How we follow Christ in the world and how he brings the light to conquer the darkness, which is what we’re doing literally when we come together to celebrate the gift of life.”
Also starting at 10 a.m. in the ballroom will be music, a rosary and adoration.
The adult Hearts for Life Conference, held for the first time last year, will begin earlier, at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18 at St. John Center in Little Rock. Overnight rooms in Fletcher Hall are $40 per person, with a discount for families, and $20 for those who just attend the conference, with scholarships available.
“So many times when we talk about pro-life we tend to focus on all these things we’re working against … we’re fighting against the evil of abortion, the evil of euthanasia and we’re fighting against the death penalty and that’s all good, we should do that. But we should also work for something. We should do things to build a culture of life,” Phillips said. “Part of the thing I want to do and focus on this conference is what can we do, how can we be more involved?”
The conference will include short talks from community leaders about how to get involved in pro-life initiatives, a time for attendees to share about their pro-life work and speakers, including national speaker Cheryl Ward-Kaiser. She will also be the keynote speaker for the annual high school retreat Weekend for Life retreat Jan. 18-19 through the diocesan Catholic Youth Ministry Office.
Father Joseph de Orbegozo will also speak about being born premature and will provide vespers in the evening.
Catholics can attend the annual March for Life at 2 p.m. around the State Capitol grounds. Sponsored by nonprofit Arkansas Right to Life, the keynote speaker will be Ryan Bomberger, founder of the nonprofit Radiance Foundation in Virginia.
For more information or how to volunteer for the diocesan events, contact Phillips at or (501) 664-0340.
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