40-day pro-life vigil nears end; director says four babies saved - Catholic Courier

40-day pro-life vigil nears end; director says four babies saved

ROCHESTER — Though the 40 Days for Life campaign still has a couple of days left, participants already have plenty to celebrate.
 
Four pregnant women have told campaign participants that they have changed their minds about having abortions, due in part to the presence of those at the round-the-clock 40-day vigil of prayer, fasting and community outreach outside the Planned Parenthood clinic on University Avenue.
 
The 40 Days for Life campaign will end Nov. 2 with a victory celebration and potluck dinner at 5 p.m. at Church of Our Lady of the Americas Parish, 864 E. Main St. The campaign has attracted the participation of individual parishioners and such groups as Knights of Columbus councils, the youth group from St. Leo Parish in Hilton and representatives of the America Needs Fatima campaign.
 
José E. Rivera, director of the local campaign and a St. Leo parishioner, said participants have begun talking about ways to continue prayer and the presence outside the clinic even after the campaign. Many have been encouraged by stories of the saves, he said.
 
“The first one happened on the day after we started,” Rivera said.
 
He said a woman told vigil participants she was headed to Planned Parenthood for an abortion, but stopped when she saw a participant hold a sign with the quotation from Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”
 
The woman said she took the message as a sign that she should not have the abortion. Instead, participants gave her information on crisis pregnancy support and a ride home.
 
On another day during the campaign, a woman pulled out of the driveway of Planned Parenthood, smiled at a participant and called out that she was keeping her baby.
 
“You get so overwhelmed when that happens,” Rivera said.
 
Rivera pointed out that these two saves and two others that occurred may not be the only instances during the campaign where women changed their minds about having abortions.
 
“They see the hand of God trying to reach out to them,” he remarked.
 
Vigil participants also have referred post-abortive women to local prayer and healing programs including Project Rachel, said Kathy Cosgrove, a participant and the regional coordinator of the Silent No More Campaign, which shares testimonies of people who are post-abortive. She said she has shared the story of her abortion and her heartache afterwards with several people during the campaign.
 
“This is the place that gave me my permission slip to abort my child,” Cosgrove said of her experience with Planned Parenthood. “They lied to me and never told me that my baby had a heartbeat. They never offered me an ultrasound.”
 
The vigil also has attracted many new people to the ongoing demonstrations at the clinic and others who have participated through prayer, even if they are not able to be outside the clinic, Rivera said.
 
“I feel we are making an impact through prayer and the fasting,” said Paul Dupre, a parishioner of Our Lady of Victory/St. Joseph Church, who was taking part by saying the rosary outside the clinic on Oct. 26.
 
Bill Fleming of Rochester, an Our Lady of Victory Church/St. Joseph parishioner, said he used to drive along University Avenue on his way to work each day. He said back then, he’d never imagined he’d be holding a sign outside the Planned Parenthood clinic.
 
“It’s been an eye-opener,” Fleming said. “I’m hoping it’s doing some good and changing a lot of minds.”
 
Mary Lou Welz, a vigil participant and a parishioner of St. Theodore Church in Gates, said she hopes to form a prayer group that would help continue the street prayer and devotions at the clinic.
 
“We have four or five people who want to continue praying with each other,” Welz said.
 
EDITOR’S NOTE: To participate in the vigil, the dinner or future activities, call José Rivera at 585-305-1224, e-mail ROC40DFL@rochester.rr.com or visit www.40daysforlife.com/rochester.

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