by Mel Brandl, Pro-Life Action Ministries volunteer
If we are not thinking about abortion every day and what it does, we probably are not praying or active in trying to end abortion. Most churches periodically “talk” about abortion, but few participate actively in going to abortion clinics and praying together.
We, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in New Brighton, have recognized that we need to remind people that thousands of babies are killed daily for the convenience of their parents! Our priest, Fr. Michael Skluzacek, encouraged our Respect Life Committee to organize pro-life events to educate our parish about abortion. But, somehow, just passing out brochures and having speakers on pro-life issues wasn’t enough.
Then during Lent of 2008 we learned about the 40 Days for Life Campaign, a national pro-life organization that calls attention to abortion by helping churches become active at abortion clinics, a peaceful approach that promotes prayer, vigil and sacrifice. “I always wanted to do something to end abortion, but just didn’t know what to do.” This was a comment we often heard when involving our parish in 40 Days. This campaign gave them direction and a faith-filled purpose.
Today, and for the last five years, our parish has been involved in the 40 Days for Life Campaign. We started by educating everyone possible — our clergy, Respect Life members and parish members. People are uncomfortable about going to an abortion clinic. By going as a group and car pooling, people welcome the opportunity to pray together, even if it is only for one hour. We rent a bus through our school and have 20 plus praying together and being led by Fr. Skluzacek. Our Knights of Columbus Council participates and finances the cost of the bus. Maybe you have an organization that can support the cost for a bus! Think big! Have people sign up weeks before and announce the 40 Days for Life Campaign within your church. After the 40 Days for Life Campaign is over, we still have members going to Planned Parenthood every week to pray together.
This photo of Baby Samuel’s hand reaching out of the womb speaks to us, “please help me!” People need to have their “hot button” pushed to get motivated, and this photo did just that. (Samuel was diagnosed with spina bifida at the age of 21 weeks in his mother’s womb. The doctors suggested abortion to the parents, Julie and Alex. But they believed that this was a child that “God had chosen for them.” Successful in-utero surgery was performed and Samuel is doing well now, years later.) We used this picture and story on small cards and distributed them to parish and vigil people praying at Regions Hospital during the first 40 Days for Life campaign. Regions abortion clinic has since stopped doing abortions! The power of prayer!
God has blessed us for our sacrifices. We now have a “Garden of Life Chapel,” a special place to pray for an end to abortion. Each month we have a special blessing for expectant mothers at the Chapel. We look forward to expanding the Chapel functions with education and keeping abortion on our minds. Stop by our “Garden of Life Chapel” and pray for an end to abortion.
A special thank you to Pro-Life Action Ministries for coordinating the 40 Days for Life in our community.
Editor’s note — Mel wrote this article before St. John’s 40 Days’ “Adopt-A-Day” during the Fall 2013 40 Days for Life at Planned Parenthood (PP), which was November 2, 2013. On that day, church members talked with an abortion client and then they took her to a nearby pregnancy help center where she received further counseling. Again, the power of prayer and presence made a difference!