FARGO, N.D. (CNS) — Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo has asked all priests of his diocese to spend at least one hour in prayer before the state’s only abortion facility and to join him in a procession to the facility Sept. 26.

“I know what a busy time this is for you in the parishes, yet I ask that you schedule one more very important thing on your calendar: your hour of prayer outside the abortion facility,” Bishop Aquila wrote in an Aug. 27 letter to priests about the 40 Days for Life North Dakota campaign.

The campaign is scheduled to run from Sept. 22 to Oct. 31, with people praying in shifts of one hour or more on the sidewalk outside the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo.

Bishop Aquila said he would lead the diocese’s annual Walk with Christ for Life procession to the abortion facility Sept. 26 and would spend an hour in personal prayer outside the facility Oct. 28.

Rachelle Sauvageau, director of the diocese’s Respect Life Office, said that at least 30 unborn babies have been reportedly saved from abortion in North Dakota during the 40 Days for Life campaigns in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

“Because most mothers who had considered abortion but then decided against it do not report their decision, the number of babies alive today as a result of the prayer, fasting and peaceful vigil of volunteers in North Dakota is actually much higher,” she added. “This faithful witness to the dignity of all human life truly is changing hearts and saving lives.”

According to the national office of 40 Days for Life, more than 350,000 people in 307 U.S. cities and locations in other countries have joined in “six coordinated campaigns, saving 2,811 lives from abortion.”

In 2010, campaigns are scheduled in a record 238 locations in the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Northern Ireland and Denmark, the national office said.

In his letter to priests, Bishop Aquila noted that he was writing on the feast day of St. Monica, “who persevered in prayer and fasting for the conversion of her son, Augustine, who later became a priest, bishop and saint.”

“Like St. Monica, many among the faithful in our diocese have persevered in prayer and fasting … to raise awareness of the scourge of abortion on our state,” he added. “They have fasted from food, or from the distractions of modern-day life, offering that sacrifice for the conversion of souls so that unborn babies may be saved from death by abortion.”

Thanking the priests of their own example and “faithful witness,” Bishop Aquila asked them to encourage parishioners to pray and fast during the campaign.

“Youth groups, men’s and women’s groups, and many individuals have been blessed by the sacrifices they have made as witnesses to the dignity of all human life,” he said.


More information about the 40 Days for Life campaign is available here.