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Pro-life events to attract thousands to Lincoln and Washington, D.C.

People from across the archdiocese will travel near and far this month to take a stand for the unborn at two pro-life events.

More than 5,000 people are expected to gather at the annual Nebraska Walk for Life Jan. 14 in Lincoln, and about 500,000 – including nearly 250 high school students and more than 50 priests, religious sisters, adult chaperones and others from the archdiocese – could participate Jan. 27 in the 44th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C.

"The purpose of the Nebraska Walk for Life is to show solidarity and fellowship with the national March for Life as we share their mission ‘to provide all Americans with a place to testify to the beauty of life and the dignity of each person,’" said Jeff Kanger, associate director for pro-life and family with the Nebraska Catholic Conference (NCC).

"I hope participants and observers recognize the sizeable and diverse group of Nebraskans constructively advocating for a culture of life and witness the love, mercy and compassion of the pro-life movement," Kanger said.

A Mass organized by the NCC will be offered before the walk at St. Mary Church, 14th and K streets in Lincoln, across from the state capitol. Archbishop George J. Lucas will preside at the 9 a.m. Mass and the homilist will be Father Scott Hastings, judicial vicar of the metropolitan tribunal and vicar for clergy.

The walk – sponsored by Nebraska Right to Life – begins with a 10 a.m. rally on the steps of the capitol, followed by a seven-block, prayerful walk to a keynote address at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln student union.

This year’s speaker is Rebekah Buell, a California woman who, experiencing an unplanned pregnancy in 2013, began a chemical abortion using the RU-486 pill. Immediately regretting her decision, she contacted a doctor who used a new protocol called abortion pill reversal to save her baby. She now speaks nationally on behalf of the pro-life movement.

Just two weeks after the walk in Lincoln, high school students and others from the archdiocese will join the March for Life in Washington.

The pilgrims will depart Jan. 25 in two buses from St. Mary Church in Norfolk and four buses from St. Gerald Church in Omaha, said Whitney Bradley, coordinator of the Respect Life Apostolate in the archdiocese’s Center for Family Life Formation, which is sponsoring the six-day trip.

As a pilgrimage, there is a spiritual dimension to the trip.

"The March for Life pilgrimage makes a point of bringing God into our daily work of building the culture of life," Bradley said. "And pilgrimage is a time to visit holy places of the faith and to search for God."

Events immediately before the march will include music and a rally on the grounds of the Washington Monument, and afterward, testimonies outside the U.S. Supreme Court and an opportunity to visit congressional representatives and senators.

The group also will attend Mass at the National Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington and a prayer service the night before the march called the Life is Very Good Evening of Prayer, Bradley said.

The return trip includes a stop in Philadelphia to visit the shrines of St. John Neumann and St. Katharine Drexel, and other historic sites, and to pray at a Planned Parenthood facility, Bradley said.

"I hope pilgrims come back home having experienced God in the pro-life movement and with the overall sense of having been a part of something greater than themselves," she said.

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