November 23, 2007

Hundreds turn out to pray during ‘40 Days for Life’ campaign

St. Luke parishioner Ann Green and her children, Mary, John Paul and Jimmy, of Indianapolis, pray outside the Planned Parenthood clinic, the largest abortion facility in the state, on Oct. 2 during the first “40 Days for Life” prayer campaign in the archdiocese.

St. Luke parishioner Ann Green and her children, Mary, John Paul and Jimmy, of Indianapolis, pray outside the Planned Parenthood clinic, the largest abortion facility in the state, on Oct. 2 during the first “40 Days for Life” prayer campaign in the archdiocese.

By Mary Ann Wyand

Hispanic Catholics prayed all night on Saturdays in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Indianapolis during the recent “40 Days for Life” prayer campaign there.

Hundreds of other pro-life supporters continued the prayer vigil during the daytime hours from Sept. 26 to Nov. 4 outside the largest abortion facility in the state at 8590 Georgetown Road.

St. Luke parishioner John Hanagan of Indianapolis ­participated in the prayer campaign and later talked with

pro-life sidewalk counselors about the results.

“That first week we had three ‘saves,’ ” Hanagan said. “Three women decided to keep their unborn babies rather them have them aborted. Considering how difficult it is to gain access to those coming in for abortions at Planned Parenthood [due to the fenced property], that was amazing. We only have one brief chance to offer help as they drive by us there … so three saved babies in the first four days was enough to make the whole 40 days worthwhile.”

The pro-life counselors reported less traffic coming into the abortion clinic during the 40 days of prayer, Hanagan said, and some of the women were willing to stop and talk with them.

“All [the sidewalk counselors] were very appreciative of those [people] that came out to pray,” he said. “The whole atmosphere was one of peacefulness and prayer.”

Hanagan said he prayed in front of the clinic again on the Tuesday after the close of the “40 Days for Life” campaign, and was pleased that a Latino woman and her child were there as well as a woman with older children who are


“It was a good sign that the prayers at Planned Parenthood would continue,” he said, “until there are no more abortions there.”

St. Luke parishioner Elaine Rigney of Indianapolis, who helped coordinate the pro-life prayer campaign, welcomed several hundred people to the closing rally on Nov. 4 at the St. Augustine Home for the Aged Chapel in Indianapolis.

“The prayer campaign was very successful,” she said, “because of each and every person who came out and prayed with us … more than 300 participants.”

Other rally speakers included a driver who raced in the ­Indianapolis 500 and two state legislators. They offered their thanks to the volunteers who prayed for an end to abortion in front of the clinic every day for nearly a month and a half.

Retired Indy-car driver Johnny Parsons of St. Christopher Parish in Indianapolis, State Sen. Greg Walker (R-Dist. 41, Columbus) and State Sen. Jeff Drozda (R-Dist. 21, Westfield, Ind.) were among the speakers who encouraged pro-life supporters to continue praying in front of abortion clinics.

“When you turn yourself over to the Lord and are touched by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit will bless you and guide you,” Parsons said. “… All of you are here because the Spirit brought you here, and what you have done for the Lord is going to be well-rewarded. We know that through the Scriptures.”

Parsons also talked about the opportunity to raise his grandson.

“For those that have lost children, just know that you’re going to be with your child again,” Parsons said. “The Lord has promised you that in the next world, and he is a forgiving God.”

St. Patrick parishioner Luis Fernando Aguayo of ­Indianapolis, a member of the Hispanic Catholic Family Movement, was one of the pro-life supporters who prayed outside the abortion clinic on Saturday nights in shifts from 7:30 p.m. until 7:30 a.m.

During some of those nights, Aguayo said, there were as many as 60 Latino people praying together there.

“This is not the end of prayers,” he said. “This is the beginning of prayers.”

Walker told the gathering not to feel discouraged about their pro-life efforts because “God can act upon the prayers of a few righteous, and do exceedingly, abundantly, beyond what we are able to comprehend.”

As faithful Christians, he said, “you have the power to move mountains in your words and your expressions from within your heart to the Lord. Don’t ever forget that. … You’ve seen God work in your lives in ways that you never could have imagined.

“God is not using the mighty and the noble of this age to fulfill his work … and defend those who cannot defend themselves,” Walker said. “… God is going to use the lowly, God is going to use the humble, God is going to use those who are not proud of heart to fulfill his purpose.

“I want to encourage everyone and commend everyone that has been a part of the 40 days of prayer,” he said. “We are reminded that this is a beginning, not an end. I’ve read the statistics about the successes [of the national campaign] in other cities. … Know that God has respect for those who submit to him.”

Drozda, who is a member of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Westfield, in the Lafaytte Diocese, said it is a pleasure to work in the state legislature to defend life.

“When we go down to the statehouse, obviously we have a job to represent the people in our district,” he said. “But also, we have a responsibility—moral, I think, and legal and ethical—to defend the most vulnerable in society.”

Drozda said when he and his wife, Cheryl, took their six children to pray the rosary at the abortion clinic on a Friday evening during the prayer campaign, one child said, “Killing is against the law.”

As a legislator who makes the laws and also as a father, Drozda said, he struggled to answer that “basic, simple question” of “How can we permit this in our society?” †

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