By Josephine von Dohlen, Catholic News Service     1/30/2020

WASHINGTON (CNS) — As the sun rose on the nation’s capital Jan. 24, about 18,000 teens and young adults gathered in joyful praise and worship, celebrating the sanctity of all human life at the Capital One Arena in Washington at the Youth Rally and Mass for Life, the largest annual event sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington. 

Two sisters, Caitlin and Ciara Baltazar, who are in the 11th and seventh grades at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Maryland, arrived just as the doors opened at 6:15 a.m. to save seats in the front of the arena for nearly 30 of their March for Life club members. 

Caitlin Baltazar said it was her family’s faith that rooted her passion for the pro-life cause, adding that as young women, “it’s important for us to be involved,” she said. 

The annual event, which takes place prior to the national March to Life, gathers young people from throughout the Washington area, from across the country and from around the world to begin the day in prayer for the protection of all human life. Participants came from as near as Catholic schools and parishes in Washington and Maryland and from as far away as Australia. 

“This Mass is an invitation for all of us to leave everything, to abandon our life totally to the Lord, to be witness to the fact that a life spent to do the will of God is the greatest life possible,” said Father Daniele Rebeggiani, a Washington archdiocesan priest who is a secretary at the apostolic nunciature, in his homily at the Mass.