Newark seniors pray for unborn - Catholic Courier
Joe Monahan holds a rosary as he and other parishioners of Newark's St. Michael Church pray near a monument to the unborn outside the church Sept. 19. Joe Monahan holds a rosary as he and other parishioners of Newark's St. Michael Church pray near a monument to the unborn outside the church Sept. 19.

Newark seniors pray for unborn

NEWARK — Eight senior citizens gathered on the front lawn of St. Michael Church early in the afternoon of Sept. 19, a brisk, breezy day with a hint of autumn in the air. Rosaries in hand, these St. Michael parishioners spent nearly half an hour praying out loud for an end to abortion and for the souls of babies who died before they were born.

This group of parishioners, sometimes accompanied by as many as seven others, meets at 1 p.m. each Monday near St. Michael’s monument to the unborn. Nestled in a bed of black-eyed Susans near the church’s front corner, this monument is a headstone emblazoned with the words "In Memory of All the Unborn." Underneath that inscription is a passage from Isaiah 49:15, "I will never forget you."

The group of regular rosary-prayers can’t quite remember how long they’ve been meeting, but they never forget their devotion to the unborn and to the pro-life cause, said Mary Gilardo, who estimated the group has been praying outside the church for about eight years. Before that, the group used to gather and pray outside Planned Parenthood’s Newark facility, she recalled. When the group learned abortions were no longer routinely performed at that facility, the weekly prayer was moved to St. Michael’s front lawn.

The area near the monument to the unborn, which had been purchased by the Knights of Columbus and blessed by Bishop Matthew H. Clark, seemed like a perfect spot for the weekly prayer, added Leo Kamalsky. A regular participant in the weekly rosary, Kamalsky also coordinates pro-life events and educational efforts for the local Knights.

"We meet often to promote the pro-life cause in the parish," he said.

St. Michael Church sits in the heart of the village on Main Street/Route 88, so the parishioners’ efforts attract a lot of attention from passersby. Their words of prayer usually can be heard over the noise of passing trucks and cars, although on Sept. 19 they were muffled by the rustling of wind-blown leaves.

"We’re very visible. It’s a busy street," Gilardo said.

Nearly half a dozen people walked by the group that day, although no one stopped. Sometimes pedestrians do stop and ask the parishioners what they’re praying for, Gilardo said, and the parishioners are more than happy to explain their cause. Unfortunately none of these curious individuals have ever joined the parishioners in their prayers, Gilardo said, but she hopes the experience helped these people think about abortion and the pro-life cause in a new light.

St. Michael School, which is located across the street from the church, closed last June, but when it was open teachers often brought their students across the street to participate in the rosary, noted Netta Colacino, another of the weekly rosary participants. Gilardo said the rosary participants will continue to meet on St. Michael’s front lawn until winter sets in.

"As long as the weather holds up we’ll go outdoors. Then when the weather becomes inclement we’ll move into the chapel," said Gilardo, who brings her own statue of Mary each week and places it on the edge of the monument while the rosary is being prayed. Gilardo has had the statue since she was a teenager, so she takes good care of it and always brings it back home after the rosary, she explained, her arms wrapped protectively around the statue.

Gilardo said she and her fellow parishioners have committed to praying the rosary every week because they just can’t stand the thought of babies being aborted.

"I’m very pro-life, and abortion makes me literally sick, it really does. We love life," she explained.

Colacino, who has participated in the rosary "almost from the beginning," said she and her family also are staunchly pro-life.

"I can’t see babies being killed. We need life," she said.

Mary Jane Ruffalo, meanwhile, said the reality of abortion is something she "just cannot even fathom."

"I’m a grandmother and I love children, and I hate to see the children aborted, never given a chance at life," she said.

"This country will never be blessed as long as there is abortion," Gilardo added.

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