Day 22…Thanks to St. Paul Seminary, Knights of Columbus (McKeesport Council #955) and many dedicated individuals!

I’ve been thinking a lot about saints lately…

What exactly is a saint?

Technically, a saint is simply someone who is in Heaven.  Hopefully we will all be saints someday, right?  However, when we talk about people being “Saints“…usually we are talking about people who have lived with such extraordinary faith that their lives inspire others to strive to imitate them.  In other words…a Saint is someone who not only gets themselves to Heaven…they help many others to get there as well.  Saints are like luminaries, lining a dark path, which leads to everlasting life with Christ.  Our journey through this life is difficult.  There are those who would prefer to drag us down, rather than lift us up.  I thank God for placing certain people in my life that have been saints to me.  These people help to lift me towards Heaven, and I am very grateful for them.

I would like to talk about Al and Sally Brunn.

Without embarrassing them….I just want to express my appreciation for the impact their lives have had on my life. This past Sunday was their Magee Picket.  Six times a year, (always on a Sunday from 1-3 pm), they stand in front of Magee Hospital with large signs.  Their signs are meant to educate passersby that Magee does abortions, and what abortion actually does to a baby.  Usually Sally texts me a couple days before the day of the picket and I try to make it if I can.  I am sorry to admit that my heart wasn’t in it as I began the drive to Oakland this past Sunday.  I was thinking of all the other things I would rather do on my Sunday afternoon.  But as I stood on the corner of  Craft and Forbes, holding a large sign that showed a 12 week baby who had been ripped to shreds during a suction abortion, I began to watch the expressions on people’s faces as they drove by.  I especially noticed that many young girls and women, who were passengers in the cars, would strain their necks as their cars passed…so they could continue to look at my sign even after they were past me.  I saw many wide eyes and mouths.  It reminded me of a powerful scene from the Gosnell movie, which I had just seen the previous evening.  In that scene, the prosecutor was making his closing statement to the jury.  He had large photos of “Baby Boy B“, (one of Gosnell’s victims), which he was showing the jury.  One by one, he showed each member of the jury the photo.  The expressions on the jurors faces actually made ME cry!  Seeing the shock, sadness and grief of those jurors…gave me hope in the overall goodness of mankind.  People can philosophize abortion and say they are pro-choice.  They can try to make it a political issue.  But when they see it for what it really is…naked and uncovered…most people are horrified.  I cried during this scene and I was glad that I was crying.  It was good to know that my heart isn’t dried up and that I can still cry over abortion.  I have seen the pictures so much, and for so many years, that they don’t make me cry anymore.  But seeing OTHERS see them for the first time, and crying over them…THAT made me cry.

Standing on that corner on Sunday afternoon, I realized….there wasn’t anything more important that I could have been doing on my Sunday afternoon.

If it weren’t for the faith and perseverance of Sally and Al, I would not have been there.  In fact, if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be leading a 40 Days for Life campaign and probably wouldn’t even be involved in pro life activity at all!  Why?  Because when God first broke my heart over abortion in 2009, and I didn’t know another soul who cared about abortion, when I got up my courage to go to Planned Parenthood all alone…who did I see standing there?  Al, Sally and Bob Newman.  If they weren’t there every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, all year round…I would have never had the courage to continue to go and stand all alone after that.  In fact, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that we wouldn’t even have 40 Days for Life in Pittsburgh if it weren’t for them.  So, Al and Sally, you have been saints to me.  You have helped pull me up.  And I thank you for that.  Happy 62nd anniversary (this Saturday) to you both!  May God continue to bless and protect you!

What this world needs now is more saints!  People who are willing to give up their own lives for others!

Many of us are willing to give to a certain extent.  But we hold back.  We don’t give radically! I am in this camp, I must admit.  But knowing Al and Sally has made me want to be better.  I want to be like them.  I want to give my WHOLE life, even to the point of foolishness…for Christ.  I hope I never feel that I have done enough.  At the end of my life, I want to be like Saint Paul, and be able to say;

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8.

If you haven’t yet seen the Gosnell film, it’s not too late!  I think this is a movie all pro-life people should support.  The cast does a superb job and the movie is not disgustingly graphic.  It is playing at the Pittsburgh Mills on Wed., Fri., Sat., and Sunday.  It is also playing at three other theaters through Monday…. Loews at the Waterfront, Mt. Lebanon, and AMC Westmoreland 15.    You can find the times and directions online.


Read on for reports from the vigil today…

Charlene reports from the 7-9 am shift:

It was very peaceful and prayerful today. The temps said it was warmer but the winds made it feel colder. Diane and Peggy were setting up when I arrived…it’s nice to start the day with cheerful people. Peggy and I did the devotional together…and she did her first rosary “knees to the ground”. Peace seems to come to people’s faces when someone is praying on their knees. We were joined for an hour by Bill who prayed and handed out literature.  I want to end this peaceful shift with another quote from Matthew Kelly ,”The world will change. It always has. Will it change for the better? You and I, one moment at a time, get to answer that question together”. Prayer warriors on the sidewalk. Charlene

Peggy had her knees on the ground in prayer this morning!
sidewalk memorial

Cathy wrote from the 9-11 am shift:

No pictures today.  Hopefully someone in a later shift is sending one of the seminarians.  I was hoping to get Barb and Rich to take one, but by the time Rich came all but one of the guys had left to go to DU for class, planning to come back later.  I told them they better get good notes for the one who stayed, skipping class!

The ones who came were Nick, Eli, Alec, Dan, Brian and Dan, plus Clare and James.

I was joined this morning by six wonderful Pittsburgh seminarians and the parents of one of them.  Several women/couples went into the clinic, including one who thanked us enthusiastically for being there so she knew where to go.   Two girls, one carrying a bag, accepted the resource card when leaving.  One woman stopped to talk on her way out.

(Nick, the seminarian from St. Paul’s Seminary who coordinated the group), took these photos and sent them in:

Dan in prayer
Seminarians Eli and Brian in praye

Richard was the shift manager from 11-1

Shift manager Richard with John Paul, a seminarian

Barbara was under the weather today, so hubby Richard held down the fort…but no shift report.  I (Nikki) stopped to pray during his shift, and took this photo.  I didn’t get a picture of Nick, who was the seminarian before him.  While I was there, I knelt in front of the door to pray.  My eyes were open, so I watched as people walked in.  One couple went in and I watched as the man pulled his card out of his wallet and handed it through the receptionist window.  Payment for an abortion, I guess.  He turned and looked at me.  Our eyes made contact for a brief moment.  No expression that I could tell, but I wonder if it made him think that his child must have value…if someone was willing to pray on their knees in the street for him.

Chris managed the vigil from 1-3 pm and wrote:

What a joy it was to pray with five men who have chosen the priesthood and are studying at St. Paul’s Seminary.  I was joined by John from Butler, Adam, Sean, John, and Dan.  A man stopped to tell us the story of his daughter, Mackensie, who suffers from Crohn’s disease and is in danger of losing her health coverage.  As he left, we told him we’d pray our next Rosary for her, and we did.  Mary Jane, my faithful Wednesday prayer partner, lovingly offered pregnancy resource cards to every passerby.  Mimi joined us toward the end of my shift and joined us in the Rosary.  There was very little traffic in and out of PP and I didn’t hear one negative comment.  More than a few people said positive things as they passed by and we heard several “God Bless yous”. Thank God, especially in this culture, for young men who hear God calling them and answer His call.

Seminarians Adam and Sean
John, Mimi and Dan
John and Mary Jane

Jeannie had the 3-5 pm shift.  She wrote:

Just another beautiful day with pro lifers in Pittsburgh! I was lucky enough to cross paths with two seminarians Dan and John —who happens to be my nephew. What joy! Mimi rounded out the crowd at three and we engaged in the rosary with the Knights of Columbus men from Corpus Christi in McKeesport. Mary Jane stayed over from Saint Bernards & Pius 10. The sun came in and out but our mood stayed up the entire time. Many positive comments and a few negative ones. The great part is we are available to talk to anyone in a peaceful prayerful way, and that is wonderful.  Debbie from north of Butler was in the city taking her dad shopping and she stayed with us to pray. I told her the best people in the world are on the sidewalk praying at Planned Parenthood. I believe it.

Mike, Mimi, Joe and Debbie
Faithful Mary Jane
Mimi praying to end abortion

Joe K. manned the final vigil shift of the day and sent in this report:

Extremely blessed to start a blustery shift with my fellow parishioner and fellow Knight of Columbus, Mike. along with a perfect trifecta of Faithful Shift Buddies – Benson, Audrey, and Jim.  Just can’t say enough about my appreciation for my Shift Buddies – “yinz” are the best!
The evening was overly calm – a few positive comments and only a single head-shake
Jim from St. Maurice stopped by on his way home from work.
A woman, who stopped by a few weeks ago to discuss her views and prior abortion, stopped
again and after looking at the fetal models further discussed her situation – I offered her info,
though she declined – she’s obviously still hurting after all these years – please pray for this woman…
Got a pleasant surprise visit from an ole Sidewalk Advocate, Jim – who stopped by to pray.
During one of our group prayers just as someone was reading (Matthew 17:5) about the Transfiguration
“While he was still speaking, behold a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from
the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am will pleased;
listen to him.”
Blinding sunshine broke through the clouds down Liberty Ave. (The Point end) on us…
Audrey’s students from Duquesne U.. Katie and Joe, who had been there a few weeks
ago, joined us towards the end of the shift – awesome to have the next generation present…
Tom arrived to pack it in, but there was one lasting memory from the evening – as Mike and
I started to walk back to the car, I noticed a young woman had picked up some of the flowers
left on the sidewalk around 933 and was getting her picture with them – thought it was cool
she was getting some enjoyment out of them, but I also hoped she realized why they were
there to begin with (“Both Sides Now”, eh?)…
Shift Buddies Benson and Audrey, Mike (Knights of Columbus), and Shift Buddy Jim
The whole crew…
Lower – Joe & Mike (Knights of Columbus)
Upper – Shift Buddies Jim and Audrey flanking Audrey’s Duquesne U. students Katie and Joe

 

2 thoughts on “Day 22…Thanks to St. Paul Seminary, Knights of Columbus (McKeesport Council #955) and many dedicated individuals!

  • October 18, 2018 at 8:11 am
    Permalink

    Wow Nikki, what YOU wrote got me a little watery-eyed.

    Reply
  • October 19, 2018 at 2:09 pm
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    This is for the girl named Mackensie who has a preexisting condition and may lose her health coverage. When I first went back to work after many years as a stay at home mom I was sent to a health insurance meeting to choose coverage for my family. One of the 4 or 5 plans offered told me that they would cover preexisting conditions for my two boys who had Type 1 diabetes. I immediately signed up with that company and have never regretted doing it. They have changed their name to Aetna Coventry. If Mackeknsie’s parent sees this they might want to give them a call.

    Reply

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