By NADIA MARIA SMITH
CS&T Staff Writer
Three communities in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia were among 179 cities in 47 states that kicked off the third national 40 Days for Life campaign on Wednesday, Sept. 2.
According to David Bereit, the national campaign director and coordinator of the 40 Days for Life campaign in College Station, Texas, this campaign is considered the largest pro-life mobilization in history.
“During an election season in which abortion has emerged as a critical – and potentially decisive – issue, people across the nation need to be made aware of the reality of what abortion does to women, men, children, communities and our nation,” Bereit said.
“So 42 days before Americans go to the polls to select new national, state and local leaders, thousands of volunteers are launching a massive 40-day pro-life campaign simultaneously in 179 cities – an initiative focused on prayer, fasting and peaceful action that could have a profound effect on our nation at this crucial time,” he said.
40 Days for Life is a community-based campaign that is being conducted from Sept. 24 until Nov. 2. The campaign consists of 40 days of prayer and fasting, peaceful vigils around the clock outside an abortion facility or Planned Parenthood center and grassroots educational outreach. Locally the prayer vigils will run in front of Planned Parenthood centers in Warminster, Collegeville and West Chester with numerous parishes taking part from around the Archdiocese.
“40 Days for Life is a wonderful opportunity for the faithful of the Archdiocese to participate in a nationwide effort to end abortion,” said Susan Vadas, the director of the archdiocesan Respect Life Office.
“Many parishes and local pro-life organizations sponsor ways to become involved no matter how much or how little time you would like to devote. Parishes also offer liturgies, prayer services and vigils to encourage participation. There is really something for everyone. This is a unique event in that our voices and prayers are joined with those of other concerned citizens locally and across the country, and the results have been staggering. We urge all people of the Archdiocese to speak for the most vulnerable in our society and to pray for an end to abortion,” she said.
When West Chester participated in the 40 Days for Life campaign last year, participants saw concrete fruits of their prayers and fasting, according to Len Iacono, the coordinator of the campaign in West Chester. He believes that at least three babies were saved directly by the vigil.
Last year, for the first time in several years, the number of abortions performed in West Chester dropped under 1,000 and the CEO of the local Planned Parenthood office was dismissed. An abortion doctor and one clinic worker quit. And, Iacono added, a nurse refused a job offer at the site because she didn’t want to walk by people praying outside.
“This was just in West Chester alone,” he said. “You can magnify this hundreds of times throughout the country.”
Likewise, Warminster vigil coordinator Monique Proulx saw results from last year’s 40 Days campaign.
“Women who had abortions stopped and spoke to us and said, ‘I’m happy you are doing this work. I wish there had been someone standing in front praying when I was here so maybe I wouldn’t have had my abortion,'” she said. “There was a lot of healing.”
Bereit noted that 40 Days for Life neither endorses any candidate nor campaigns against anyone seeking public office because “the change in the abortion status quo will begin as a spiritual change.
“The nation is beginning to undergo a spiritual conversion that will ultimately turn our society away from abortion. That spiritual change will then be reflected in the political realm, as elected officials will recognize the will of the people and respond accordingly to protect the life of every human – born and pre-born,” Bereit said.
CS&T staff writer Nadia Maria Smith may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (215) 965-4614.
Local 40 Days for Life events
To learn more or to sign up for specific vigil hours, contact the local leadership teams and visit www.40daysforlife.com:
Len Iacono (vigil coordinator)
Rita Smith M.E.V. (Missionaries of the Gospel of Life)
Theresa Leitold, M.E.V. (Missionaries of the Gospel of Life)
Mary Paris (vigil coordinator)
Monique Proulx (vigil coordinator)
Veronica Kull (outreach coordinator)