Office of Advocacy and Justice Updates





National Migration Week will be observed in dioceses around the country January 6-12. This year’s theme, “We are Strangers No Longer: Our Journey of Hope Continues,” includes a postcard campaign that calls for comprehensive immigration reform.

This year’s theme also celebrates the tenth anniversary of the joint pastoral letter, Strangers No Longer: Together on a Journey of Hope, issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Conferencia del Episcopado Mexicano in 2003. In the pastoral letter the bishops reflected on migration between Mexico and the United States as a “sign of the times” that is necessary and beneficial, with promises and challenges. “Catholics have a responsibility to welcome newcomers into our communities and parishes, help them integrate and provide material and spiritual support that will allow them to flourish,” said Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration. “National Migration Week is an opportunity for the Church to remember and reflect on these obligations.”

As part of this year’s National Migration Week celebration the USCCB Migration and Refugee Services will launch a postcard campaign that calls on Congress to pass fair and comprehensive immigration reform that would: 

  1. Provide a path to citizenship for undocumented persons in the country.
  2. Preserve family unity as a cornerstone of our national immigration system.
  3. Provide legal paths for low-skilled immigrant workers to come and work in the United States. 
  4. Restore due process protections to immigration enforcement policies. 
  5. Address the root causes of migration caused by persecution and economic disparity.

Catholics are also urged to support this campaign. “The Administration and Congress should work together to secure legislation that will provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, provide legal means for migrants to enter our nation to work, and reform the system to allow family reunification,” Archbishop Gomez said.  

The observance of National Migration Week began over a quarter century ago by the U.S. bishops to give Catholics an opportunity to take stock of the wide diversity of peoples in the Church and the ministries serving them.  For the U.S. and Mexican Catholic Bishop’s Joint Pastoral Letter, go to:  For more resources on National Migration Week, see: .

National Prayer Vigil For Life Held in Washington, D.C., January 24-25

The National Prayer Vigil for Life will be held from Thursday afternoon, January 24, through Friday morning, January 25, 2013. The schedule includes the Opening Mass on Thursday, January 24, at 6:30 pm followed by the National Rosary for Life at 10 pm in the Crypt Church. Evening Prayer (Byzantine Rite) begins at 11 pm. Holy Hours begin at midnight and conclude at 6:00 am on Friday, January 25 with Morning Prayer and Benediction. The Closing Mass begins Monday at 7:30 am. A detailed schedule is here.

Opening Mass Seating

Please note that there is no reserved seating. Additional seating is provided in the Lower Level Memorial Hall during the Opening Mass. Television monitors and communion distribution will allow those seated in this area to fully participate in Mass.

Concelebrants, Deacons and Seminarians

Bishops and priests are invited to concelebrate the Opening Mass on January 24 and the Closing Mass on January 25. Deacons are invited to vest and process. Seminarians are welcome to participate in the processional of the Opening Mass; however, they will not recess out after the closing prayer.  All participating clergy and seminarians should register at this Basilica web page which includes important information on arrival times and vesting.

Holy Hours for Life

Seminaries are encouraged to lead an hour of the Holy Hours for Life, held in the Crypt Church from midnight to 6 am. The holy hour schedule is already full, but interested seminarian groups may be able to join in collaboration with already scheduled seminarians by contacting Mr. Matt Shoemaker at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary at

Regularly-scheduled Masses, January 24-25

All of the other regularly scheduled Basilica Masses will be celebrated. Visit here for Mass times. For planning purposes, please let the Basilica staff know if your group plans to attend any of the regularly scheduled Masses by e-mailing Groups may also schedule privates Masses in the side chapels of the Upper and Lower Levels.

Adopting a Holy Hour

As noted above, seminaries lead holy hours throughout the night. Their commitment provides the laity with an opportunity to participate in the 39-year-old tradition of prayer throughout the night to promote a culture of life. The holy hours are a beautiful way to spend time in the patronal church of the United States.  Pilgrims who arrive in the middle of the night to pray will be ensured safe and controlled access to the Crypt Church through the lower level front entrance by the gift shop. Please notify parish respect life coordinators, especially those in the Washington region, of this special invitation to prayerfully consider spending time with our Lord in Eucharistic Adoration and “adopt an hour” during the Vigil. Dioceses, parishes or school groups may contact Mary McClusky at to adopt an hour from midnight to six a.m.


Closed Captioning and live coverage from EWTN will be provided for both the opening and closing Masses of the Vigil.

Bus Parking & Drop-Off Times

Bus parking permits are no longer available for the Basilica parking lot. Open parking will be available on Harewood Road during the 2013 National Prayer Vigil for Life and related events. 

Please note that the new policy for 2012 will be continued into 2013! Buses may begin dropping pilgrims off for the 7:30 am Closing Mass at the Basilica at 5:30 am. Only pilgrims heading to the Crypt Church for Holy Hours will be allowed into the Basilica before this time. Groups dropping off pilgrims are encouraged to contact their bus company and arrange an appropriate arrival time.


Related Area Events  

See “Washington Area Events” for information on other activities commemorating Roe v. Wade. For regular updates and more information on other events, please visit this page often.

Archdiocese of Washington Youth Rally and Mass for Life

Once again the Archdiocese of Washington will host the Youth Rally and Mass for Life on the morning of the March for Life.  The event will be held at the Verizon Center in DC and – new this year – the University of Maryland Comcast Center.  All tickets have now been reserved.  If you would like the opportunity to be put on a waiting list, please contact Michelle Carper at or 301-853-4555.  For more information about the event, visit or

Diocese of Arlington Youth Morning Rally and Evening Prayer

The Diocese of Arlington will host two events in Fairfax, VA at the Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason University for young pilgrims attending the March for Life. A Morning Rally (including Mass and confessions) will be held on Friday, January, 25 from 9:00 a.m. to 12 noon. Later that day, an evening prayer service from 7:30 to 10:00 pm will provide pilgrims the chance to examine the events of the day and celebrate the culture of life. For more information visit: or contact

March for Life

The March for Life and Rally will take place at noon on the Mall in Washington on Friday, January 25, 2013. Please check for more information on the March for Life and to register your buses.

Mark Your Calendar!  

The 2014 National Prayer Vigil for Life is Tuesday evening, January 21 to Wednesday morning, January 22.

The 2014 March for Life and Rally is Wednesday, January 22, 2014.

“The Death Penalty in 2012: Year End Report”

Florida now sentences far more people to death than any other state.  In 2012, Florida has 21 new sentences of death out of 78 nationally…that’s more than ¼ of ALL new death sentences in the U.S.  One small corner of our state, the Jacksonville area, had ¼ of all new Florida death sentences.

While death sentences have dropped dramatically in other states, Florida is expanding use of the Death Penalty.

Florida has long held the national record for most exonerated Death Row prisoners (at least 23 so far). It is both tragic and ironic that the state that has sent the highest number of wrongfully convicted people to Death Row is now the one sending the most people there.

We have a lot to pray over and more work to do.  There will be some challenging legislation this session so stay tuned!

Advocacy Efforts

2008 Farm Bill Extended; No Reforms for the New Year

Included in the deal to avert the “fiscal cliff”, federal legislators extended the 2008 farm bill — despite efforts by Senate and House Agriculture committee leaders to make reforms and progressive changes. In a word, the simple extension of the farm bill was a disappointment. The opportunity to improve agricultural policies was lost; we now must wait until the new Congress takes up the bill later this year. The current extension runs until September 30, 2013.

Granted, it was necessary to pass some kind of legislation to avoid a dramatic rise in milk prices and give some certainty to farm and food policies after the farm bill had expired more than three months ago. But the extension agreement ignored many of the provisions proposed by Agriculture Committee leaders in both the Senate and House. In effect, policy makers not familiar with the intricacies of the farm bill set the terms of the extension.  Read more here from the blog of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.


Calendar of Events