The New Year began for me much as 2022 ended – praying and vigilating near abortion centres. Daily, I can be found at the corner of Berri and St. Catherine Streets, me or one of the prayer volunteers dedicated to this activity.
Referred to as Vigil 365 for obvious reasons, this site was selected back in 2015 when the Morgentaler facility had moved downtown from its former location on St. Joseph Blvd., where we prayed. They moved. We followed. Though it subsequently moved a third, on St. Hubert near Crémazie, we remained downtown as four other abortion centres operate in this area.
Daily, we pray with chloroplast signs that honour the sanctity of life and offer alternative medical help to the women and men thinking of aborting their children.
Being alert while on duty is a must, ever ready to respond when called upon and, at times, in unexpected ways.
An example of the latter occurred this past week. I was approached by a gentleman in his mid-thirties. He introduced himself as John and in the same breath went on to say that over the past three years, he had frequently seen me at this intersection. On this morning, he stopped to share a personal story.
John and his wife presently care for their two children. Yet on his morning, his mind was on their third child, their first, the one they had aborted when they were living in China.
John continued. He explained that they had become pregnant and were subsequently told by government officials that they were required to abort this child.
In obedience, he and his wife complied, a decision he mentioned to me that haunts him to this day.
Further, he added that in the intervening years his guilt has grown. He told me that he wished he had gone to bat for this first child, having defended the life of his first child.
John’s sorrow was obvious. His eyes seldomly looked into mine as we spoke and the couple of times I redirected the conversation to a related issue, he returned to the subject of his first child and his remorse.
John’s pain is not unique among men who have lost a child from abortion. In the two decades I have been involved in the pro-life movement, other men have shared their grief with me about their roles in the aborting of their child or children. I can readily remember the testimonies of Louis and Carlo.
Research into the impact of abortion on men is not as well developed as it is for women, but it is grwoing. I am aware of two centres researching the topic and offering support to men.
The Alliance for Post-Abortion Research and Training is one. Its co-director Dr. Catherine T. Coyle was commissioned by the Knights of Columbus to produce a fascicule entitled “Men and Abortion: Finding Healing, Restoring Hope” for its Catholic Information Series. The booklet, in addition to giving several testimonies of men directly impacted by an abortion, offers a multi-step "Process of Forgiveness" to help in the grieving and healing process.
A second centre active in research and counselling for post-abortive men is the Elliot Institute. Its research division presents a variety of articles, including testimonies from men. Its web site includes a Special Edition: Elliot Institute Report on Men and Abortion.
Support is out there for John, Louis, Carlo, and many other men. We pray that they become aware of this support and if not, caring friends and acquaintances point these resources out to them.
A couple of days after having spoken with John, I saw him pass through the vigil location as I was praying with Mary. John continued his way without breaking stride and I noticed he did not make eye contact with me when his was level with me.
Let us humble ourselves before God, our Creator, and His Blessed Mother in prayer before our brothers and sisters on the streets of Montreal for we know not how and who our presence will touch and bring to God.
Quebec Life Coalition
p.s. Our 40-day prayer vigil for the end of abortion is upon us. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 22, and running through Passion Sunday (April 2, 2023), prayer volunteers will gather at our vigil location in downtown Montreal for twelve hours (7am to 7pm) daily. Consider registering for a one-hour block, weekly. This would certainly qualify as a Lenten sacrifice. To learn more, call (438) 930-8643.