HARTFORD – The Archdiocese of Hartford will launch its fifth 40 Days for Life campaign Sept. 26. The event, which runs until Nov. 4, is part a national pro-life initiative that has saved nearly 6,000 babies and closed 23 abortion centers since 2007.
"It’s the most successful pro-life campaign in history," said Mary Lou Peters, coordinator of the campaign for the archdiocesan Pro-Life Ministry. She noted that the archdiocese alone saved 52 babies from abortion since the event began here.
The 40 Days for Life Web site http://40daysforlife.com says that the saving of 6,000 babies and closing of 23 abortion centers since 2007 is attributable to the campaign, which began in Texas in 2004 and became a national effort three years later.
"It’s a big year for us because we’re celebrating our fifth anniversary," she said, "and it shows the level of commitment by the archdiocese to this important pro-life work."
The 40 Days for Life campaign consists of 40 days of prayer and fasting combined with vigils in shifts outside of a clinic or hospital that performs abortions. Nationally, since 2007, there have been 10 coordinated 40 Days for Life campaigns, mobilizing people of faith and conscience in 440 cities across the United States and in a dozen other countries.
New this year is a pro-life Mass to be celebrated by Father Robert Rousseau, director of the Pro-Life Ministry, at 2 p.m. Sept. 23 at St. Peter Church in Hartford. A reception at the parish and a procession to an abortion clinic for prayer will follow.
Father Rousseau also is pastor of St. Augustine Parish in North Branford.
Archbishop Henry J. Mansell will celebrate a Mass at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 26 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Hartford to mark the opening of the campaign.
Over the next 40 days, people from throughout the archdiocese will gather from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily to pray before the Hartford GYN Center at 1 Main St. until the campaign concludes on Nov. 4.
Those who cannot attend are being asked to participate in special eucharistic adoration programs scheduled at parishes throughout the archdiocese. Coordinators are looking for 100 percent participation from all parishes, either by praying at the Hartford center or by having times of prayer and eucharistic adoration, Mrs. Peters said.
"For public witness, being part of prayer before an abortion clinic is extremely important," said Mrs. Peters. "That’s where we get the message out. However, without question, the adoration held in parishes supports the entire campaign."
She emphasized that the purpose of gathering before the abortion clinic is to pray. "But if people approach us with questions, it’s a perfect opportunity to talk about abortion, what it is, what harm it brings to families," she said. "Sometimes people don’t realize what an abortion is … they don’t realize the physical, emotional, and mental implication of an abortion."
She noted that some moms who reconsider abortion seek support at the St. Gerard Center for Life at 22 Maple Ave. in Hartford, which offers free ultrasound exams. "We know that 90 percent of women who have ultrasound images end up not having an abortion," she said.
"One year, we had a mother come up to us who said, ‘I changed my mind because I saw you praying here for me and my baby.’ She came back the next year with her baby and said, ‘This baby is here because of you were here praying.’
"Another year, a pro-life worker, who was praying at a clinic one year, was invited to the home of another woman who decided to save her baby," said Mrs. Peters. "Those are the stories that are so moving and inspire us to want to do even more."
Information about participating in the pro-life vigil or coordinating adoration in a parish is available by calling the Pro-Life Ministry at (203) 639-0833.