Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Friday, February 23, 2018

40days-redroseNoreen Pearsall, a member of St. Thomas Becket Parish in Cheshire, holds a red rose and sign during a ceremony on Nov. 6 marking the close of the most recent 40 Days for Life campaign. See photo gallery by clicking here. (Photos by Lenora Sumsky)

"You can’t underestimate the power of prayer," said Mary Lou Peters, assistant program coordinator of the Pro-Life Ministry of the Archdiocese of Hartford, who credits prayer with saving the lives of eight babies locally since the 40 Days for Life campaign began on Sept. 28.

The local campaign, which coincided with a national initiative, ended with a "Red Rose Closing Ceremony" on Nov. 6 on the corner of Jefferson and Main Streets in Hartford, across the street from the Hartford GYN Center, where abortions are performed.

Approximately 40 supporters who participated in the ceremony held red roses as a symbol of life. Most were volunteers who, during the campaign, stood in vigil through rain, wind, snow and sun, praying for an end to abortion.

This year, 90 parishes from across the archdiocese volunteered to participate in the Hartford vigil. They also selected a day during which a 24-hour vigil and eucharistic adoration were held in their churches as part of the campaign, said Mrs. Peters, who coordinated the local effort.

Mrs. Peters and other advocates for life prayed from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily in front of the Hartford GYN Center.

In the case of seven women and their eight babies (one mother is pregnant with twins), the prayers of those keeping vigil were answered. Mrs. Peters said she was able to confirm that the seven women changed their minds about having abortions, based on information that is given to the St. Gerard’s Center for Life in Hartford.

Women who change their minds about aborting their babies go to the center seeking help with medical bills, food and baby products, said Theresa Krankowski, director of St. Gerard’s.

"These women are overwhelmed. They may not have a job or a husband, and have other children at home, and they don’t know where to go," said Dr. Krankowski.

Beyond saving tiny lives and assisting women who choose life rather than abortion for their babies, "We need to reach out with kindness and compassion to women who have been harmed physically and emotionally by abortion," said Mrs. Peters.

"There are an enormous number of people who have been wounded by abortion, including both women and men," said Mrs. Peters. "We need to reach out, without judgment or scolding, but with kindness and love."

On the first day of this year’s 40 Days for Life campaign, Mrs. Peters parked her car on the street near the entrance of the Hartford GYN Center. She said she noticed a man with an obviously traumatized woman leaving the facility.

The woman got into the car parked immediately behind Mrs. Peters’s and lay down across the front seat. Mrs. Peters offered her support and called upon one of several pro-life volunteers who were standing nearby. The volunteer empathized with the woman and shared her own firsthand experience of abortion.

"I was inspired by the event," said Mrs. Peters. "It emphasizes how important it is when post-abortive women come forward and share their experience."

Other events that occurred during the 40-day event were more providential, she said. She told the story of a woman who went to the clinic to have an abortion during a campaign three years ago. The woman decided to keep her baby, and gave birth to a son, Joey. She returned this year to the prayer vigil with Joey in tow to thank the people who had prayed for her.

Mrs. Peters has organized each archdiocesan 40 Days for Life campaign since the Pro-Life Ministry launched it in 2007. Since then, 51 babies, including the eight this year, have been saved.

Nationally and internationally, this year’s 40 Days for Life effort took place in 301 locations and resulted in 630 saved babies, according to the organization’s Web site at http://www.40daysforlife.com. It also says that since the campaign began, 5,045 babies have been reported spared.

Besides Mrs. Peters, speakers at the concluding ceremony included Father Robert J. Rousseau, director of the archdiocesan Pro-Life Ministry and pastor of St. Augustine Parish in North Branford; and Dr. Krankowski.

Sister Suzanne Gross of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, program director for the Pro-Life Ministry, led the singing. Father Anthony DiMarco of Middlefield, a priest of the Diocese of Norwich, offered the concluding prayer.

On behalf of Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, who was in Rome at the time, Father Rousseau thanked all those who participated in the vigil. "Saving the lives of [eight] babies makes it very important to stand here, despite the weather, for the 40 days, for babies, and for mothers."

"This is not the end; it’s just another day," he said. "God is leading us."

Following the ceremony, a reception was held at the St. Gerard Center for Life. Supporters toured the facility, including the ultrasound exam room. Mrs. Peters said, "Eighty to 90 percent of women who see their baby through ultrasound decide not to have an abortion."