This fall, hundreds of communities across North America and several Canadian cities simultaneously organized a 40 Days for Life campaign from September 28 to November 6, 2022.
The 40 Days for Life is a focused pro-life effort that consists of:
- 40 days of prayer and fasting to end abortion
- 40 days of peaceful vigil
- 40 days of community awareness
I was present in Sherbrooke on the 31st day to report on this event. Brian Jenkins, who is the leader of the team, was on place to give me a warm welcome. This man spends 12 hours a day outside, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. during the 40 days, as an advocate for life. He takes a break at noon, during which Mr. Gerard replaces him, for the entire length of the 40-day vigil. The vigil participants vary from day to day, but Brian and Gerard are present daily.
By law, Brian and the other participants must not be within 50 meters of a facility where abortions take place, in this case the CLSC Belvédère (Local Community Services Center). So far, there have been no counter-demonstrators, whereas last year a pro-choice group of 100 people gathered against 3-4 people who were doing the vigil. Gerard shares with me that the Sherbrooke police supported the vigil participants last year, and since then they have been supported by the Sherbrooke authorities. Brian has a working relationship with the police of Sherbrooke and can count on them for their help to maintain their safety.
CLSC Belvédère in Sherbrooke - Photo: Joanne of ArcRead more
Sunday, March 10, 2013
The Stalwarts. Each vigil has its defining characteristic. A year ago I was particularly impressed by five young men, hitherto to unknown to me and to each other, who participated, on a regular basis in the vigil. This past fall, I was humbled by the many post-abortive women who came out to pray with us. This spring, I am touched by the stalwarts within our group.
The stalwarts are the men and women who come each day, braving the elements and the opposition. The length of their stay varies from a half hour to an hour and, in some cases, even longer.
For example, Marguerida, a resident near the vigil location, joins us for a half-hour of prayer on her way home from daily mass. Yves, again a daily presence, stays between an hour and two. Stella, an early bird, drops by for hour of prayer followed by coffee with another stalwart, Charlotte. The latter is deserving of the qualifier with a capital S, staying too many hours to count. Thanks to these and other unnamed strong and brave souls.
Vigil Schedule – The Middle Hours still require filling. This week our needs are Tuesday afternoon (1-4 p.m.), Wednesday (10 a.m. – 2 p.m.), Thursday (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.), and Friday (noon – 4 p.m.). Thanks to Greg and his son Michael who came out this past week.
Number of Saved babies? As of day 27 of the vigil (March 11), there have been 313 babies saved from abortion. Rejoice!
Weekly Highlights - Several unplanned and wild events happened this past week.
- Visit of borough Mayor – On Wednesday, Michel, one of our prayer warriors happened to see the borough mayor walking through the Lahaie Park, where we are holding vigil. Flashback: This past fall, mayor Ferrandez spoke out publicly against our vigil. Audaciously Michel approached the mayor and began a pretty frank conversation with him. It had polemical elements but the two men moved onto sharing personal views on abortion and their faiths. For example, the mayor related how a personal experience of abortion at an early age has shaped his pro-abortion stance. Michel, for his part, spoke about the human soul present at conception and the dignity from that moment onward, even after physical death.
- Pro-abortion advocates – On Friday, March 8, twenty or so pro-abortion advocates appeared at the vigil location. They remained for several hours. A year ago, a similar staging also occurred on this day, known as the International Day for the Rights of Women. Despite the tense atmosphere nerves remained calm and our group continued in prayer and song throughout our visitors stay. Thanks to Michel, Roseline, Yves, and Maria del Pilar for their constancy.
- Way of the cross – This past Friday, four of us performed the Stations of the Cross outside in the park. The meditations, this week as well as the previous and subsequent weeks, are drawn from a little yet potent booklet put out by the community “Famille du Sacré Coeur.” These are based on private revelations to Sr. Josefa Menendez in 1923. This is a weekly Friday activity – 3:00 p.m.; I hope to see you next week.
- Saturday pic-nic – Michel called me Friday evening, 10:00 p.m., with the idea of an impromptu pic-nic for the following day at noon. Calls were made, emails sent and over 15 showed up. Bravo to Michel and his wife Lise for their efforts.
A look ahead:
- Thursday, March 14: Three-quarter mark. Let's celebrate with an all-night Adoration – Saint Enfant Jésus church
- Friday, March 15, 3:00 p.m.: Way of the Cross
- Sunday, March 17, 6:00 p.m.: Vesper service
- March 17-23: Jericho prayer, daily after closure
- Tuesday, March 19, Movie Night: “Restless Heart: The Life of Saint Augustine,” Decarie Square, 7:30 p.m. $10.
Prayer Intentions – Your prayer are welcomed for the following situations:
- One of our prayer warriors is having a tough go with his employer and is considering a job switch.
- Three pregnant women have entered our circle of friends, one of whom is expecting this week.
Hope to see many of you at these events.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Week 2 of the "40 Days for Life" prayer vigil for the end of abortion ended as it begun with the weather dominating the proceedings. Artic temperatures, snow, wind, blowing snow have all challenged those having visited the vigil location. My heartfelt thanks goes to all who have braved these conditions, suffering numb toes and frozen finger tips.
WANTED - vigilers. Though our numbers vary between 16 and 20 visitors each day, these are not distributed evenly throughout our 12-hour days. The first and last quarters of each day are solidly packed, but not the middle hours – from 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. So, to all able bodied persons, we need your help to cover these middle hours; your presence would go a long way to ease the burden on those of us who are out there.
Number of Saved babies - As of February 24, 142 babies have been saved from being aborted. Praise God!
- Way of the cross – This past Friday, seven of us gathered in Lahaie park and performed the way of the Cross. Prayers were recited, meditations read, and hymns chanted. Regarding the latter, special thanks goes to two members from the Soeurs missionaires Notre-Dame-des-Anges who led the rest of us in song.
- That same night fifteen of us gathered inside Saint Enfant Jesus church for nightly adoration. Begun at 7:30 p.m., Fr. Louis presided over the proceedings: exposition, benediction, and reposition, the latter at 1 a.m. This commemorated the quarter point in our vigil. Another period of adoration is set for the three-quarter mark of the vigil – day 30 (March 14).
- Finally, a crowd of about 30 gathered inside Saint Enfant Jesus church, on Saturday past to partake in an afternoon of prayer for respect for life. Fr. Joel, vicar at the Cathedral, presided.
A look ahead:
- Friday, March 1, 3:00 p.m.: Stations of the Cross
- Friday, March 1, 7:30 p.m.: Pro-Life rosary and fellowship - Saint Raymond Parish (Laval)
- Saturday, March 2, 3:30 p.m.: Sacrament of penance
- Sunday, March 3: Vesper service (6:00 p.m.)
- Tuesday, March 5: Mid-vigil mass (7:30 p.m.)
Hope to see many of you at these events.
Sunday October 28 Highlights: Families and especially the children, a couple visiting from Guelph, and the weather.
I was particularly touched at day's end. Several vigilers had brought their children to the vigil location. And as many of us were in prayer, I glanced around to spot them absorped in games. Their energy and enthousiasm was heart-warming.
I was also delighted to welcome Mike and his wife to the prayer site. They were driving back to their home in Guelph, ON, and decided to join us for an hour of prayer, despite the dark and ominous autumn clouds.
Finally, I felt deeply blessed at one point during the afternoon. It dawned on me how truly blessed I was to be privileged to have hearts revealed to me. In fact, I felt deeply humbled that persons, either for or against our cause, are willing to share with me something deep and personal. Some are joy-filled, radiating a beautiful smile as they pass me by. Others are hurt, frowning or doing worse as we make eye contact - feelings of hurt, sadness, and anger.
Yet God in his goodness and mercy has blessed me and them for what is often a very brief moment - two hearts exchanging on a matter so fundamental to our existence, the fate of the unborn.
Lord, may I always be charitable to all of these.
Saturday, October 20 - On day 26 of our vigil for the end of abortion, I was reminded, again, that God is in charge and is intervening during this vigil. Let me explain.
Heading to the vigil for my afternoon shift, I felt morose. Georges had opened the site and covered the first half with Charlotte. I would cover the second and as the schedule was void of any name except my own, I felt sad at the prospect of being on my own. However, I learned God had other plans.
On arrival, I was stunned and elated by what I saw. Families! Miguel, from Lanoraie, accompanied by his wife Monica, was standing next to the banner reciting prayers and proudly showing off the youngest of their clan – a six month old. Then in the distance, I spotted Maria with her husband Pierre and their 3 year-old Marie-Camilla speaking with a young woman. And this was only the beginning.
As the afternoon wore on, God’s handiwork was apparent. People came and went from the prayer location. The peak was about 4 p.m. when no fewer than thirteen people were on hand: Ymelda and her sister and her two children, tapers in hand, were praying, Francois and Andrew were chanting psalms by the picnic table, and finally Carole and many of her friends had rendez-vous'ed at the site and were now reciting their devotions. What a blessing I was privy to.
Lord, have mercy on me, a man of little faith.
Finally at about 5:30 p.m., the day was coming perfectly to an end as the rains had subsided, the sun came out, and a beautiful rainbow appeared in the sky.
Daily Highlights: 1. Presence of several families with their children; 2. Natalie a newcomer and fellow Christian came for a first visit; and 3. Rainbow at day’s end.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012 – Day 15
I could not help but notice God’s protective hand working at the vigil today.
At the outset of the day, the schedule appeared complete. Our regulars had slotted themselves through until 3 p.m. Charlotte and I took the early shift from 7 a.m. until 10 a.m. At this time Vaclav and his wife were then scheduled for a ninety minute block. Carl was then slated for two hours. And finally John and his wife Celeste would follow. All set, right? Not quite.
I knew something was amiss when Carl showed up at 9:30 a.m. rather than his appointed time of 11:30 a.m. I approached him to inquire about his early arrival. He explained that his wife had made arrangements late the day before with friends visiting from out-of-town for a noontime meal this very day. Hence, this spelt havoc with my well-groomed schedule.
Not to worry for God is the vigil’s scheduler. Shortly after Carl’s arrival, Gabriel unexpectedly showed up. I greeted him and asked how long he was thinking of staying; he answered, until about 2:30 p.m. Problem solved! So a period of angst quickly evaporated. Praise be to God, the King of schedulers!
Else, I thank God for the different blessings He has endowed each and every one of us. On this day, I think particularly of two of our members gifted with the wonderful charism of loving and personal conversation.
John and Celeste travel into the vigil site once a week from their home on Ile Perrot, a forty-minute ride, if the traffic is good.
In the two weeks that they have come, I have looked on with awe at how passers-by are drawn to them and seen moving conversations follow. Last week, they spoke with a high school age girl for what was close to half hour.
Today, a young man, driving by saw our banner, decided to stop and come over to investigate. Who were the first people he meets at the site but John and Celeste. Again what seems like a pleasant conversation ensues, lasting well over thirty minutes.
This couple radiates a love that is easily seen some twenty yards away. I feel blessed to have them represent our vigil team during these 40 days for life.
Today's numbers: 21 visitors to the site logging in over 45 hours of prayer time.
Monday, October-08, Day 13 of the prayer vigil for the end of abortion had a little bit of everything: the reunion of old friends… the surprise arrival of others… the generosity of one.,, and a couple of close calls.
Ymelda and Marlene live on the furthest eastern point of the island of Montreal. Using public transit it is a long hike to travel into the city, let alone getting to the vigil location. I, on the other hand, live in the north end and rarely, if ever, cross paths with either. And so the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil is an opportunity for old acquaintances to be renewed. Such was the case today and Ymelda accompanied by her other sister, Muriella, came by the vigil location for an hour of prayer.
Also, today is Thanksgiving Day Monday and two blessings came our way while at the vigil location. First, there was the unexpected visit of some of our regular prayers. Michel and his wife Lise often come on Tuesdays and Thursdays and so their arrival today was an unexpected Thanksgiving treat for Francois and I. They stayed an hour and half to pray.
The second came in the package of a Thanksgiving meal. Charlotte laboured in her miniture apartment to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for Francois and I. The meal consisted of a generous portion of baked chicken, along with an assortment of fixings – cranberry juice, sauce, potatoes including sweet potato.
Finally, near day's end, a couple of persons tried to mar our banner. First a young woman, brandishing a magic marker took sights on the banner in a menacingly manner; fortunately I was able to dissuade her from doing any damage.
The fate of the banner in the second attempt was not as trivial. A half hour after the first incident, a young man on a bike appeared and managed to sweep the banner twice with black streaks before I intervened.
Fortunatley, our clean up crew, led by Pierre and including little Camille, were able to remove the better part of the stains. On learning of the incident the next day, Francois perused the banner, saying afterwards that he was not able to see any traces. Thanks Pierre.
The vigil runs through Sunday, November 4th, and prayers may be found on site daily from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
So far, during the current vigil, over 130 children have been spared death due to abortion. Keep your prayers coming.
Day 12 was one of our busier days at the vigil for the end of abortion with 18 people coming by for an hour or more, logging in nearly 40 hours of prayer time among them.
Hector and his family dropped by for a second time since the beginning of the vigil this past Wednesday September 26th . He, his wife, and four children (18 years, 9, 6, and 9 months) spent an hour at the site. The cool autumn temperatures – about 14C, didn’t seem to bother him, as he wore a simple t-shirt throughout the sixty minute watch. He promises to return on Wednesday evening.
Also, a kind Samaritan dropped by with a box of Donuts and six coffees for those of us at the vigil location. He mentioned that he really appreciated our work and shared a personal story. Both he and his brother were both adopted as infants and he credits the work of persons like ourselves for having encouraged his natural mom not to abort them and put the twos of them up for adoption.
Finally, special thanks to Maria for dropping by at day’s end with a pot of hot carrot and squash soup. There were four hungry vigilers who devoured its contents in no time.
This September, the Quebec Life Coalition will be hosting its eighth "Forty 40 for Life" prayer vigil. This is a forty consecutive days of praying and fasting for the end of abortion. We will be joined by several hundred other vigils, worldwide. Over the previous campaigns, some astonishing records have resulted worldwide. The following is a synopsis of some of these figures. Stay tuned to our website to learn how you can be involved. The vigil begins Wednesday, September 26, 2012.
Summary of Results – 2007-2012
There have now been ten coordinated 40 Days for Life campaigns since 2007, mobilizing people of faith and conscience in 440 cities across the United States and Canada, plus cities in Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Belize, Denmark, England, Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Poland, Puerto Rico and Spain.
During these unified efforts, participants witnessed countless blessings from God:
- 1,894 individual campaigns have taken place in 440 cities in 14 countries
- More than 525,000 have joined together in a historic display of unity to pray and fast for an end to abortion
- More than 15,000 church congregations have participated in a 40 Days for Life campaign
- Reports document 5,928 lives that have been spared from abortion – and those are just the ones we know about
- 69 abortion workers have quit their jobs and walked away from the abortion industry
- 23 abortion facilities completely shut down following local 40 Days for Life campaigns
- Hundreds of women and men have been spared from the tragic effects of abortion, including a lifetime of regrets
- More than 2,100 news stories have been featured in newspapers, magazines, radio shows and TV programs from coast to coast… and overseas
- Many people with past abortion experiences have stepped forward to begin postabortion healing and recovery
After so many years of legalized abortion, many people of faith are experiencing a renewed sense of HOPE!
(Day 24: 308 Saved Babies!!!)
Three out of five women are coerced into having their abortions.
Yesterday at the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil location, a young women approached as I was praying with a colleague and asked us whether we knew that our presence was intimidating to women.
As I reflected on her question, my thoughts turned to the work of Dr. Reardon at the Elliott Institute. He and his peers are documenting the numerous instances in which women are coerced into having their abortions. I encourage you all to visit The Unchoice web site to learn more about this work.
I am not advocating that women be given a choice in having an abortion - every abortion destroys a human life and, so, this fact trumps a woman's choice in disposing of the life growing inside her.
Rather, I wish to expose yet another misconception that abortion gives women a choice.
Also, I wondered if our visitor had seen the sign at our prayer site offering free help to pregnant women.
The vigil runs through Sunday, April 1, daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.