AUGUSTA — The 2022 Hands Around the Capitol event is scheduled for noon-1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15.

The annual gathering publicly recognizes and mourns the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, calls for an end to abortion, and promotes the protection of human life from conception to natural death.

This year’s event will be an outdoor gathering. At noon, participants can park and gather outside of St. Mary of the Assumption Church on 41 Western Ave., where signs will be provided. The group will march to the State House where it will place roses and, at 12:45 p.m., ring the Capitol bell 49 times to mark the years since Roe v. Wade was enacted.

“Abortion is wrong. It’s killing a child,” said Jon Harvey, secretary of the Maine State Council of the Knights of Columbus, according to a news release from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. “We stand for what the Church believes in, and we gather to support the bishop and to follow our faith.”

The annual event is sponsored by Maine Right to Life (mainerighttolife.com), which was founded to protect and uphold the dignity and worth of each human life from conception to natural death, seeking to uphold the inviolable sanctity of human life by making abortion, infanticide, physician assisted suicide, and euthanasia socially, ethically, and legally unacceptable and to actively promote positive alternatives, according to the news release.

“We gather in solemn memorial to be the voice of the innocent, vulnerable, and speechless who had no choice in the decision that ended their precious life,” said Karen Vachon, executive director of Maine Right to Life. “Every life is valuable.”

Bishop Robert Deeley and other clergy will attend Hands Around the Capitol, which culminates in the encircling of the State House while the Capitol bell is rung.

Deeley also plans, at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, to participate in the opening mass at the 2022 National Prayer Vigil for Life. The event is to be held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The Mass will be available via livestream at nationalshrine.org/mass.

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