The signs proclaiming “Abortion Kills Children,” “Adoption — A Loving Option,” “Pray to End Abortion,” “Jesus Forgives and Heals,” “Abortion Hurts Women” and “Lord, Forgive Us and Our Nation” spoke loudly.
Yet the group of approximately 40 people who met at the corner of Elmira’ s West Church and Walnut streets were otherwise prayerfully peaceful on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 1.
“This is better than last year, and I think this is only the beginning,” said Patricia Beemer of those who took part in a local Life Chain anti-abortion initiative. “At our site there were two families with small children. That’s a good sign too.”
Life Chain, an ecumenical effort, was begun in 1987 by Please Let Me Live, a pro-life ministry near Sacramento, Calif. It is held across the United States and Canada each first Sunday of October. According to Beemer, this year more than 1,200 Life Chains were held.
Participants are asked to hold signs and stand for one hour along busy routes near the sponsoring churches, praying silently for the end of legalized abortion. Beemer, who attends Elmira’s St. Anthony Church, coordinated the Life Chain contingent representing the cluster of St. Anthony, St. Patrick and¬†Ss. Peter and Paul. She organized four additional Southern Tier sites: in Elmira at Grand Central Avenue and 14th Street as well as Route 414 at Chambers Road; in Corning at Denison Parkway at Pine Street; and from Bath to Hammondsport on a 12-mile route along Route 54.
Another Life Chain participant from the Southern Tier was Carolann Darling, youth minister at St. Anthony Church in Groton, Tompkins County. She helped coordinate the Life Chain that took place Oct. 1 in the City of Cortland, located within the Diocese of Syracuse. Darling said the gathering annually draws about 60 people.
Grass-root efforts such as Life Chain are praised by Jann Armantrout, diocesan life-issues coordinator.
“We rely upon parishioners of the local faith community to take initiative in bringing to the public the plight of the unborn in this country. The people of Life Chain are doing just that,” Armantrout said.
The five sites coordinated by Beemer represented all in the Southern Tier that took part in this year’s Life Chain. However, according to the Life Chain Web site, there was only one other site in the entire remainder of the Rochester Diocese — in Brockport, Monroe County. Life Chain has been organized there for the past decade by Michael Warren, a member of Christ Community Church. Warren noted that Catholic churches in the area have taken part as well.
Beemer calls for more attention to Life Chain and related events as well, and hopes her fellow Catholics will take the lead.
“How can you be Catholic if you’re not pro-life?” she remarked.