In a time when the pro-life cause is vital for society’s survival in every stage of life with the continuous threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, abortion, death penalty and euthanasia, the Diocese of Little Rock will gather for the annual Mass for Life Jan. 16 to pray for change.
“We hope that people have been vaccinated and boosted, but we realize that some people have not been able to do that. And we want to make it as safe an environment for everybody as possible,” said diocesan respect life director Catherine Phillips.
The Mass will not be livestreamed. “But we also still want to have this Mass and Bishop Taylor’s very excited to preside at this Mass so we can all come together and celebrate the gift of life that we've been given and to pray for an end to everything that promotes a culture of death, all the evils in our world.”
It is the 49th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the U.S.
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor will celebrate the Mass at noon at the Statehouse Convention Center in downtown Little Rock, where masks and social distancing will be encouraged.
Phillips said chairs will be spaced more than usual between rows and seats, with people or families easily able to move chairs to space out more. Parking is accessible for a small fee at the DoubleTree Hotel and in the parking garage across and down the street from the convention center at 201 Main Street. Metered parking is free on Sunday.
Because of the surge of the omicron variant, the annual youth Weekend for Life retreat was canceled.
The annual eucharistic procession will start at 10 a.m., with the faithful processing for about an hour led by the bishop with the Eucharist. Music at the start will be provided by the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Little Rock led by Beau Baldwin.
The route is less than a half-mile, starting in the front of the DoubleTree Hotel and winding through part of Riverfront Park. There are six stations along the procession that will include prayers and music, led by various groups and ministries.
“Some choose to bring other elements into it. For example, the Igbo community is hosting a station, and they plan to have some of their lively music and cultural clothing which proclaim that we're one Church united in faith with proclaiming a consistent ethic of life that every life is valuable, at every stage, in every circumstance,” Phillips said.
The procession will end at the Statehouse Convention Center where participants will gather for adoration before Mass and music from the Our Lady of Good Counsel bilingual choir. While the procession is handicap accessible, those that cannot participate in the whole procession can participate in the stations toward the end close to the center. There will also be music inside for those who wish to sit in praise and prayer during the procession. Extreme weather will move the procession inside.
Youth group volunteers from St. Mary and Immaculate Heart of Mary churches in North Little Rock and students from North Little Rock Catholic Academy will lead the faithful in a rosary before Mass.
The 44th annual March for Life, hosted by Arkansas Right to Life, will take place in downtown Little Rock at 2 p.m. starting behind the State Capitol at West Capitol and Wolfe Streets. Father Taryn Whittington, associate pastor at Christ the King Church in Little Rock, will be a speaker.
If a person is sick or immunocompromised, they are advised to stay home.
“Cases are spiking, omicron is causing more anxiety and making us more aware that the pandemic is still real and with us, and we want people to guard their own health and take precautions to guard the health and safety of our brothers and sisters out there,” Phillips said, calling it “a pro-life issue.”
If a person is unable to attend in-person, other activities like the livestreamed National Prayer Vigil for Life Jan. 20-21 in Washington, D.C., National Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children Jan. 22 and Nine Days for Life Novena Jan. 19-27 can be opportunities to pray for pro-life causes.
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