By Seth Gonzales
The Texas Catholic
Organizers of the 2014 Roe Memorial Mass and Dallas March for Life are busily preparing for a major change in venue.
While both events are scheduled Jan. 18, the Mass will now be held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, formerly the Dallas Convention Center. The Dallas March for Life will also begin at the convention center and end with a rally at the Earle Cabell Federal Courthouse, where Roe vs. Wade was first filed before ultimately being decided in the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973.
“I am heartened by the fact that, due to the overflow crowd, we have outgrown the cathedral,” said Bishop Kevin J. Farrell, who has participated in the events each year since his installation as bishop of Dallas. “I hope that this new venue will encourage even more people to join us at this important Mass and March for Life. It is imperative that we join together to pray that hearts and minds will be changed so that all stages of life will be protected and treated with dignity.”
Organizers said the move is necessary in order to accommodate a growing number of participants.
“We loved having the Mass and starting the march at the cathedral, but as time went on, accommodations have been very difficult,” said Karen Garnett, executive director of the Catholic Pro-Life Committee. “People were actually telling us they were choosing not to come to the Mass because they knew they wouldn’t be able to find a seat.”
Garnett said a move to the center had been contemplated since 2012, but organizers could not do so until now because of scheduling conflicts.
In 2013, an estimated 10,000 people participated in the events, with an overflow crowd of 3,000 attending the Mass and an additional 7,000 joining them for the march. The convention center can accommodate up to 9,000 people for the Mass.
The day’s events are scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. with a group rosary outside the Southwestern Women’s Surgery Center, where late-term abortions are performed. At 12:30 p.m., a youth rally is scheduled to begin at the convention center, led by Dallas-based singer, songwriter and composer Steve Angrisano.
“I’m so excited to be a part of the Dallas event this year,” said Angrisano, who has previously led youth rallies during the National March for Life in Washington, D.C. “I’ve seen over the years how this anniversary and March for Life is growing and growing so dramatically. It’s becoming somewhat of a World Youth Day experience all over the country. It’s a pilgrimage of sorts.”
In an additional change from previous years, the Roe Memorial Mass will begin at 1 p.m. Father Alfonse Nazzaro will deliver the homily in English and Spanish.
Congregants from First Baptist Church in downtown will also hold a simultaneous service in the convention center. Both groups will then join together and begin the March for Life at 3 p.m.
Organizers said individuals can get to the convention center by DART Rail, but parking will be available at a reduced rate of $10. Churches and groups are encouraged to use buses to transport members to the events. Free parking will be available for buses at the convention center.
Since 1994, the Catholic Pro-Life Committee has organized the Roe Memorial Mass and the Dallas March for Life, as part of a nationwide effort to end abortion. With new abortion laws being implemented in Texas and around the country, Garnett sees hope as the pro-life movement enters 2014.
“More and more people are waking up and recognizing the need to stand for life,” Garnett said. “Unfortunately we have a legacy here in Dallas and that is that Roe vs. Wade started here. But what started in Dallas must end in Dallas.”