MANVILLE, N.J. (CNS) — Some pro-lifers get discouraged that bringing an end to abortion isn’t happening overnight, but the power of prayer is making a difference, said Kevin Dugan, a parish pro-life ministry leader.

For years members of Dugan’s parish, Immaculate Conception in Somerville, have been joined by other faith communities in the Diocese of Metuchen, to pray near a Planned Parenthood clinic on Main Street in Manville, the organization’s only facility in Somerset County.

As part of the 40 Days for Life campaign, in good weather and bad, they prayed for an end to abortion and offered assistance to those seeking an abortion at the facility.


They gathered again recently, this time to celebrate the closing of the clinic, which has shut its doors. According to published reports, Planned Parenthood did not give a reason why it closed.

On a recent Saturday, Dugan and others in the group gathered at an 8 a.m. Mass celebrated by Father Charles A. Sabella at Immaculate Conception’s chapel. After Mass, some remained to pray the rosary while others traveled to Manville for a prayer of thanksgiving in front of the old rectory of Sacred Heart Church, which is across the street from Planned Parenthood.

Since March 2011, Immaculate Conception has hosted 40 Days for Life campaigns in the spring and fall. The campaign is a global campaign to raise awareness of abortion and life issues through prayer and fasting, constant vigil and community outreach.

The Catholic Church teaches that human life must be protected from the moment of conception.

“We get so much support from our parish priests,” Dugan told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Metuchen Diocese. He said Msgr. Seamus Brennan and parochial vicars Father Sabella and Father Alex Carles “would come out and pray with us every year.”

Dugan, the father of three adopted children, added it was “really something to see the (Planned Parenthood) workers come out, they were so glum … and the women coming out looking so confused. We were here just praying and everyone was so joyful and offering hope. It’s nice to see it closed.”

Joe Kapp, a member of Immaculate Conception’s Pro-Life Committee who helped organize the 40 Days for Life campaign, believes prayers helped to close the clinic.

“We would get phone calls from people in other parishes saying, ‘We can’t come, but we will be praying at our church or pray at home,'” he said.

Dave Martin, a member of the Respect Life group at St. Elizabeth-St. Brigid Parish in Peapack, agreed about prayer helped close the facility. It is also a lesson in patience and perseverance, he added.

Said Dugan, “If we could get a lot more people to pray we could turn this around a lot quicker. We are just ordinary people. We don’t have any great talent or skill. We just come out here and pray and offer help to anyone who wants to listen.”

Magdalena Daus, a member of Sacred Heart Parish, said: “We did what we could. I think God answered our prayers. I just hope they don’t open up somewhere else.”


Donahue is associate editor of The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Diocese of Metuchen, N.J.