An Elmira organizer is urging local participation in Life Chain, an anti-abortion event set for Oct. 7.
Life Chain, celebrating its 20th year, is held each first Sunday of October across the United States and Canada. The peaceful prayer demonstration is open to Catholic and non-Catholic parishes and individuals.
"I deeply feel that if people came to Life Chain just one time, they would be hooked for life. They will have a feeling of peace and calm. It is very rewarding," said Patricia Beemer, a parishioner in Elmira’s Blessed Sacrament Parish, adding that people have right up until Oct. 7 to get involved.
Beemer is leading four Life Chain contingents in the Southern Tier. They will congregate from 2 to 3 p.m. on Oct. 7 at the following locations: West Church at Walnut streets, Elmira; Grand Central Avenue at 14th Street, Elmira Heights; Route 414 at Chambers Road, Beaver Dams; and Route 54, on a 12-mile stretch from Bath to Hammondsport.
Another Tier-related Life Chain will be in downtown Cortland, in the Diocese of Syracuse, from 2 to 3 p.m. Oct. 7. That contingent traditionally gets high involvement from St. Anthony Church in Groton, Tompkins County.
Life Chain often takes place on well-traveled routes near sponsoring churches. Participants are asked to hold signs and sit or stand for one hour, praying silently. The signs display such messages as "Abortion Kills Children"; "Jesus Forgives and Heals"; "Adoption: The Loving Option"; "Lord, Forgive Us and Our Nation"; "Abortion Hurts Women"; "Pray to End Abortion"; and "Life — The First Inalienable Right."
More than 1,200 Life Chains were held in 2006. The event was begun in 1987 by Please Let Me Live, a pro-life ministry near Sacramento, Calif., and originated in the Southern Tier through efforts by Chemung County Right to Life.
Beemer reported that Life Chain participation last year totaled 40 people in Elmira; 15 in Elmira Heights; 17 in Beaver Dams; and 20 in Bath. Although she’s pleased with those figures, Beemer said these sites are among the few Life Chains within the Rochester Diocese, and that she got scant response from the 234 churches she sent letters to promoting Life Chain. She said she hopes religious leaders not only posted her notice, but also plan to use the pulpit more often to speak out against the killing of innocent babies.
"(The babies) didn’t ask for this, and yet they are the ones that suffer for the decision being made," Beemer said. She ventured that people might be uncomfortable with making a public statement on the issue and/or feel that abortion is a woman’s choice, but said, "How can it be a woman’s choice when you are killing a human being?"
Beemer noted an additional pro-life event taking place in October, which is Respect Life Month. A baby shower will be held Sunday, Oct. 28, at 1 p.m. at the Father Burns Center behind St. Anthony Church. Admission is a new, unwrapped baby gift. The luncheon will feature such speakers as Jann Armantrout, life-issues coordinator for the Diocese of Rochester; and Judy Keough, founder of the "Loving Hearts" program that operates in conjunction with the Southern Tier Pregnancy Resource Center. The shower will benefit several local initiatives that serve as "a means of support mothers-to-be who have chosen life for their baby," Beemer said.
Beemer invites people to join her in providing knitted, crocheted or sewn baby blankets for area residents. She also encourages "spiritual adoption" of a baby, an initiative through which parishes can pray nine months for a baby who’s in danger of abortion.
"It might be a start for people to get involved with pro-life (causes) and feel like they are helping to save a baby. Prayers are what we need," she said.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For more information or to find a local Life Chain location, visit www.lifechain.net or contact Patricia Beemer at 607/737-8060 or email@example.com.