The Catholic University of America

Jan. 20, 2010

CUA Students to Welcome Thousands of Pro-Life Pilgrims to D.C.

Teens prepare to sleep on the floor of the DuFour Center.

For the past five years, the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau in Missouri has sent buses of teens to Catholic University the night before the Annual March for Life.

This week, approximately 300 teens will board three buses for the 24-hour ride from Missouri to Washington, D.C., to spend the night sleeping on the floor of the Raymond A. DuFour [Athletic] Center. The next morning, they will travel downtown to join the hundreds of thousands of other pro-lifers expected to participate in the 37th Annual March for Life.

More than 200 CUA student volunteers make it possible for this group, and 1,500 additional visitors, to stay overnight at the university and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which adjoins the CUA campus. Students sign up to welcome groups, usher at the Vigil for Life Mass at the Basilica and stay overnight in the DuFour Center with the groups to ensure they have a safe stay. CUA has offered these arrangements for visiting groups for more than a dozen years.

“I came to CUA with a passion for life, eager to be active in the pro-life movement as I had done in high school,” says Lauren Roselli, a senior psychology major from Exton, Pa. “I had marched in the years past, so when I saw the opportunity to do more for the March for Life, instead of simply being in attendance, I quickly signed up to help with March for Life hospitality.”

In high school, Roselli was on the other side of March for Life planning as she helped coordinate her group’s trip to D.C.

About 1,300 teens will stay in the DuFour Center while 500 adults will stay in Memorial Hall of the Basilica.

“Our Bishop (James V. Johnston Jr.) was so impressed and liked the atmosphere” of the accommodations at the DuFour Center, said Kathleen Keesee, president of Voice for Life, who organizes the trip for the pro-life group from Missouri. “The thing we hear most from the kids is ‘Oh gosh. All these kids are just like us.’ It really makes a big difference in these kids’ lives.”

Many of those who stay at CUA and in the Basilica are among the more than 20,000 who will attend the National Prayer Vigil for Life at the Basilica on Thursday night.

The Mass is cosponsored by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Basilica and CUA. It will be celebrated in the Basilica’s Great Upper Church at 7 p.m. on Jan. 21, by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, who is chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

CUA students participate in the March for Life.


The following morning, more than 400 CUA students are expected to join the pilgrims on the march. CUA students attending the march will gather at 10:15 a.m. in Caldwell Hall Auditorium to prepare for the event downtown.

The annual March for Life, which marks the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, begins at the National Mall and winds around the U.S. Capitol to the Supreme Court building. Each year it draws hundreds of thousands of people to downtown Washington.

“Every year, it seems the voices at the march become stronger, more unified, and from that my faith in the pro-life movement is replenished and renews in me the belief that we will see change in my generation; that there will come a time when each American will be given the opportunity of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” says Roselli, who is serving her second year as president of CUA Students for Life. “And that is the greatest thing I experience every year at the march.”

The 2010 march will mark Roselli’s fourth year as a CUA student participating in the event. In that time, the number of student marchers has risen from 200 to more than 400 students.

“The pro-life movement is ever growing, and it is becoming stronger with each passing year,” Roselli says. “More people, especially our youth, are beginning to open their eyes to what our culture — a culture of death, as Pope John Paul II said — is offering them and to realize that they deserve more.

“The pro-life movement is so much more than simply ending abortion — it is ensuring each human, whether in the womb or on the bed of infirmity, will be seen as one with innumerable value, whose life is worth fighting for,” she says.

Following the Vigil Mass, there will be praise and worship at the DuFour Center at 11 p.m. Confessions will be heard there from 10:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. and the rosary will be prayed at 12:30 a.m.

Students can sign up to march or volunteer for overnight hospitality at

MEDIA: To cover the events at Catholic University, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.