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Bishop Michael Burbidge prays the rosary outside an abortion facility in his dioceseCourtesy Ashleigh Kassock

FALLS CHURCH, Virginia, April 25, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — A Bishop with a track record of pro-life leadership prayed the rosary with more than 100 Catholics outside an abortion clinic Saturday.

Bishop Michael Burbidge — appointed by Pope Francis to the Diocese of Arlington in October 2016 — was joined in prayer mostly by high school and college students from the northern Virginia area outside the Falls Church Healthcare Center abortuary in Falls Church, Virginia, the Arlington Catholic Herald reports.

The Arlington Diocese’s Office for Marriage, Family, and Respect Life sponsored the rosary. It was preceded by a 9:00 a.m. Respect Life Mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More. The purpose of the Mass was to “give thanks for the gift of human life in all its stages, and to pray for the protection of women and children who are in imminent danger from the violence of abortion.”

A group of Christendom College students known as Shield of Roses attended the gathering. Founded in 1977, Shield of Roses sends anywhere from 15-20 students to prayerfully protest at abortion facilities every weekend.

Pro-lifers at the Falls Church Healthcare Center

During morning liturgy, Bishop Burbidge praised the student-laden audience for their efforts while reminding them of the persecution St. Stephen and St. Philip underwent for proclaiming the truths of the Gospel.

“I want to thank you for your advocacy on behalf of human life, which is necessary in a nation that does not protect the unborn,” His Excellency said. “I want to thank you for your outreach, your service, to the most vulnerable in our midst.”

Burbidge, who also participated in a 40 Days for Life protest outside an abortion center in Alexandria last year, urged his young listeners not to despair and not to be lukewarm. Rather, the former Bishop of Raleigh, North Carolina called on them to be “courageous and consistent” in word and in deed.

Burbidge is no stranger to the fight for the unborn. He and Cardinal Donald Wuerl granted a plenary indulgence for Catholics attending the 2018 March for Life in Washington, D.C. On the eve of the March for Life, Burbidge led more than 7,000 young people in Eucharistic adoration during the Life is VERY Good gathering at George Mason University.

In May of 2017, Burbidge blessed one of the premier pro-life OB/GYNs in the country, which is located in his ecclesial territory. One month before that, he prayed the rosary alongside 50 pro-lifers in front of the same Falls Church abortion center he did this year.

When he was Bishop of Raleigh, Burbidge’s dedication to the pro-life cause was also apparent. He said Mass for multiple “Love My Life” rallies that regularly saw crowds of more than 1,000 pro-life high school students. In 2012, Burbidge criticized a District Court judge who ruled that North Carolina could only issue a “Choose Life” license plate if it also allowed a “pro-choice” license plate. In 2011, His Excellency spoke at and delivered the invocation for the 12th annual prayer breakfast hosted by North Carolina Right to Life.