Last Friday I was standing on the bustling city sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood during my weekly sidewalk advocate shift. There was the usual noise and confusion as pedestrians, cars and people rushed by on their way to work and school. I was struck by the sight of a little boy, probably two or three, who was confidently walking with his mom and younger sibling in a stroller. His tiny hand was gripping the metal bar of the stroller as his mom led him to cross Smithfield Street. I though about how intimidating and confusing the city can be, yet this little boy looked totally at ease. He didn’t let go of that stroller though! He knew that as long as his mom was leading him, he would be okay.
That image of his tiny hand gripping that stroller has stuck with me all week long. I think it is an image of what WE are doing during these 40 Days for Life. As you know, the theme for these 40 days in Pittsburgh is TRUST. The world right now seems to be going crazy. There is so much division, anger and hatred…not to mention the many natural disasters! It is easy to be overwhelmed and to lose our focus in times like these. But God has called us to TRUST that HE is at work, through our prayers and sacrifice…through our peaceful witness on the sidewalk.
I was actually really encouraged when I watched the news last week. Even though there were three very sad stories that day, I got a lump in my throat because of the GOODNESS that I saw in the people who came to the aid of those who were hurting: Rescuers working non-stop to dig out the victims of the earthquake in Mexico; A group of students and teachers spontaneously joining hands in an impromptu prayer circle in the parking lot of their high school after a gunman was apprehended; Professional baseball players with tears in their eyes after a stray ball hit a toddler in the face.
Watching this was a REMINDER that there is still much GOODNESS in the world! Most people do still recognize the inherent dignity of human life! Maybe seeing our prayerful witness on the sidewalk will be a much needed reminder to those who may have forgotten…or who have lost hope.
There are now 87 churches/groups who have adopted time slots at our 40 Days for Life vigil at Planned Parenthood! The vigil is more than three-fourths filled! It is so encouraging to see that there are still many selfless individuals and church leaders who are willing to come to the sidewalk to be a sign to the world that THIS MATTERS! THIS IS NOT OKAY!
Here are the shift reports and stories from those who showed their TRUST in God today:
7-9am shift manager Kathy wrote:
Our vigil began with Dianne, Marian, and Peg preparing the site when I arrived. Shortly thereafter, we were joined by Pastor Frank and Eloisa from Inglesia Sion church (Spanish speaking congregation). Harry came too. We prayed as a group, sang, and prayed silently.
I had the honor of escorting a pregnant woman, “N”, to Catholic Charities to meet Leeann for an emergency food need and resources. Passed out literature to some pp patrons. One young mother and daughter stopped to admire the fetal baby display. They were grateful to receive a “baby” model and “precious feet” pins.
We prayed for the workers as they arrived. Yep, we’re back.
Cathy wrote from her 9-11am shift:
Kathy L. and Eloisa, from Iglesia Zion, (til 9:30) from were there to stand and pray with me this morning. Kathy was representing her church, Memorial Park. It was relatively quiet, did not appear to be an abortion day. We were able to give out a few cards,. A young mom came up to us asking where she could get food. Turns out she is two months pregnant, and has two other little ones. Family/dad support is ? Kathy took her down to Catholic Charities and they told her about some nearby places she could get food, and she was told about, and encouraged to be part of, the parenting class at CC as it would provide her with a support group. Another young mother accompanied by her little daughter, was just walking by and noticed the baby models and said “that’s what my baby looks like now!” They stopped and we gave them a development flyer, and a pencil for the little girl.
We had a number of positive greetings, maybe one negative, and of course the “stare straight ahead” ones. Since it was a nice day and not breezy, we laid out a few flyers on the top of the big trunk hoping to catch someone’s attention as they walked by.
11am – 1pm shift manager Hank reports:
It was a time filled almost entirely with prayer and song lead by Fr.Tim and the Guardians for Life from the Greensburg Diocese. The Guardians included: Irene (Resurrection), Rudy (St.Vincent), Brian and Lisa (St.Brernard) and the K of C 1275 guys Tom, Tom, Danny, and________(missed the 4th guy in the pic). Terri, a sidewalk advocate, was very active in distributing literature. Judy from St.Valentine in Bethel Park was also with us. A good number of people greeted us and thanked us for our presence.
Chris managed the vigil from 1-3pm and writes:
Yes, it was a hot one. I think God was reminding us to keep the heat on PP. I was joined in prayer by Ginny, Ken, Peggy, and John. We said several Rosaries and kept both sides of “the circle” occupied. Almost all of the people entering PP seemed to be workers, not clients. We receivd more than several “God Bless Yous” and “Thank Yous” from passersby and a few less-than-friendly comments, too. We handed out Pregnancy Resource cards to as many people would accept them.
Barbara and Richard reported from the 3-5pm shift:
Downtown Pittsburgh sidewalk looks pretty much the same since last spring… although I am ready to discuss this with anyone who knows the name of the philosopher who said you never enter the same river twice..rarely a boring conversation.
The weather was hot. The traffic was expertly, persistently loud.
Chris (1-3 shift manager) greeted us and finished his Rosary.
The crowd of witnesses arrived and prayed and entered the give and take with other people coming and going.
A trio of students standing by, eating gyros, donated a person ready to pray. His friends stood off, quietly.
As the hours waxed and waned, we enjoyed the company of John (St. Kilian), Ginny (St. Bernard), Benson (St. Anne), Jim (Knight of Columbus) who responded to Nikki’s email, and Joe (McKeesport Knights of Columbus) who came to pray for his parish and then stayed as shift manager for 5-7.
Pittsburgh 40 Days for Life people are an irreplaceable presence in our life. Richard and I feel blessed to know them.
Joe reported from the 5-7 shift:
The Life-Signal was put out for this shift and whoa and behold it was filled by some lovely souls for life – guess I needed to trust more that He always provides! Jim and Mike heard the Life-Signal and came out and joined Mike P. from St. Patrick’s / McKeesport Knights of Columbus and Benson from St. Anne’s. “K” stopped by to talk and we prayed with her. It’s great to see some of the regulars – Jim stopped by on his way home from work and the mother and family that always passes by late in the shift came by with the kids never tiring of the fetal models.
All of the comments from passerby’s were positive! I was blessed to hear 3 different pro-life experiences during the shift…
A woman stopped by to ask for any / all literature we had and proceeded to tell us how her mother got pregnant young with her and the father insisted she get an abortion – courageously, she chose life!
Jim told us of how his wife, pregnant with their 5th child – was told by their doctor of some potential complications with the pregnancy and was recommended to abort (deja vu if you were at the Kick-Off and heard Kurt K.’s talk) – again, courageously, they chose life!
Mike shared with us how he and his wife were having trouble conceiving and were blessed to be able to adopt their daughter and are now enjoying their 1st grandchild.
Faithful servants Tom and Diane came to gather-up the display to start anew for day #2 – thanks guys for all that “yunz” do!!!
Also, someone left this booklet at the vigil today…it is in the bin:
Thanks to everyone for coming to shine a light in the darkness today! Thank you God for a good first day!
PLEASE NOTE THESE UP-COMING VIGIL NEEDS:
Saturday from 11am-1pm
Monday from 7-9am AND 1-5pm
Tuesday from 3-5pm
Wednesday from 3-5pm
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up yourself at https://40daysforlife.com/local-campaigns/pittsburgh/