What NOT to do…

Have you ever found yourself witnessing a tragedy before your very eyes?  If so, did you struggle with how to respond?

About a year ago, I was walking towards the exit inside the Penn Hills Giant Eagle, after having done my banking.  Right in front of me, blocking my exit, was a teenage girl laying flat on her back.  Her eyes were open and rolled back, her mouth was open and foaming, and she was convulsing.  It didn’t look like she was breathing, but I hope she was.  There was already the store manager kneeling beside her, and he was calling 911.  Many shoppers gathered around in silence, watching the scene unfold before them.  As the minutes went by…and the ambulance had not yet arrived…people began to leave.   I struggled with what to do.  It just didn’t seem right to walk right past her and leave…but I couldn’t do anything for her and I didn’t feel right about standing there gawking.  So, not knowing what else to do, I knelt down on the linoleum and began to pray for her, with my hand extended towards her.  I have to admit that I felt pretty foolish…being the only one doing this.  Within a few more minutes, the paramedics arrived, put her on a stretcher and carried her out.  I got up and left.  I never heard any news about her, I hope she was okay.

I write about this experience because I believe it can be related to our mission to pray and witness in front of Planned Parenthood during this next 40 Days for Life (Sept. 27 – Nov. 5).

Allow me to explain.  You see, I have to admit that I get pretty discouraged after 14 consecutive vigils held in front of that place at 933 Liberty.  After so many years of fervent prayer, witnessing through all kinds of weather and putting up with persecutions…they are STILL ending the lives of approximately 3,000 human beings each year.  It doesn’t seem like our efforts are doing any good, does it?

When I feel weak in my faith, as I do right now…maybe even lukewarm in my love for God…and I don’t know what to do…I think of it in reverse and I ask myself, what should I NOT do?

I read the Gospel today from Matthew 13, where it says that Jesus was not able to do many mighty deeds in his hometown because of their lack of faith.  I found myself wondering, is that why he hasn’t ended abortion yet in our nation?  Do we lack faith?  Is that why God isn’t doing many miracles here?

So what do we do when we lack faith?

We should ACT like we have faith!  DO the deeds that we would do if we had faith!

Do we not want to fast?  FAST ANYWAY!!!  Not want to witness?  WITNESS ANYWAY!!!

So, every time I begin to think of giving up…I think about the alternative.  I think about those sidewalks in front of Planned Parenthood being EMPTY, while we went about our life as if we didn’t care.  I think about how that would look to the world.  It would LOOK as if we (Christians) didn’t care!  Just as I was afraid that if I had walked past that young girl in Giant Eagle, and had walked out those doors…it would have looked as if I didn’t care. So my strategy is…when I don’t know what it is that I should do, or how it is that I should respond…I like to think of it in reverse.  So, I ask myself…”What is it that I should NOT do?”  And then, I do the opposite.  Even if I make a fool of myself.

Would you consider being foolish with me?  Even if we cannot stop the killing of the innocents at 933 Liberty Avenue (God WILL do this in HIS TIME!!!)…we can be there to show that we care.  We can show that THIS MATTERS!  It matters to God, and it matters to us.

It is time to sign up to pray at the up-coming vigil…let’s get those 480 hours filled!  

Please email me at nbruni@40daysforlifepgh.com to commit for your time slot.  (Check the schedule first at  http://40daysforlifepittsburgh.com/vigil-schedule/    ).

Also, please help us in our efforts to close Planned Parenthood and to bring an end to abortion in Pittsburgh by signing up for our rosary campaign.  We would like every hour (from 7am – 11pm) during the 40 days to be covered with at least one person praying the rosary for this intention.  Go to  https://signup.com/client/invitation/6775657374/1930757/false#!1930757/false/false    to sign up.  (40 Days for Life is an ecumenical movement, and we are not trying to exclude non-Catholics who may not wish to pray the rosary…so if you are Protestant and would like to pledge to pray for certain hours, we welcome your prayers!  Please just contact Rick Thimons at rpthimons@comcast.net, who is in charge of the prayer campaign, and let him know.

And of course, we need your help to fill our fasting calendar during the 40 days!  We strive to have at least two people fasting every day during the 40 days.  Go to  https://signup.com/client/invitation/6775657374/1942419/false#!1942419/false/false        to sign up.

Also, don’t forget to “LIKE” our Facebook page and follow us!  You will be able to follow the national 40 Days for Life devotional prayers at https://www.facebook.com/40daysforlifepgh/

Finally, mark your calendar for Katie’s next Diaper Drive, to benefit local crisis pregnancy centers!  It will be held on Saturday, September 2nd from 7am – 7pm in front of Planned Parenthood.  More information will be posted soon.

Thank you for your help!

God bless you!

Your sister in Christ,

Nikki

P.S.  I hope I am not confusing you with this blog post…Sue David IS the new campaign director!  As the vigil coordinator, I am just writing to try to help us to fill the vigil.  🙂

Nikki’s Reflection on 40 Days for Life in Croatia

Lisa K. and I returned home last night from our 10 day journey to Croatia and Medjugorje, where we had the joy of meeting so many of our 40 Days for Life family and saw the Holy Spirit working powerfully through their campaigns.  Marian asked us each to write a little reflection of our trip, which I am happy to do.

I think I need to start from the beginning, in order to let you all know how God is working so mightily for us through 40 Days for Life!

Last summer a customer of mine gave me a wooden rosary from Medjugorje in Boznia-Herzegovina.  I had heard of the place as a pilgrimage site, but had never really had a desire to go there myself.  I began using that rosary daily and on the third day was suddenly overcome with a desire to go to there!  This happened while I was taking a shower of all things!  I actually began to whine like a little kid (out loud…in the shower!)…asking for God to make a way for me to go.  As soon as I got out of the shower, I ran downstairs to ask my husband if he would mind, (if I could save up my own money) if I went to Medjugorje!  He said it would be fine, (he probably thought I would never be able to save up the money, so he figured he would be safe, LOL!)  Anyway, that was going to be my plan….no matter how long it took…I would save the money and go on a group pilgrimage to Medjugorje.

Three weeks later, I went to the 40 Days for Life international symposium in Orlando, along with Lisa K., Marian and Beth.  40 Days for Life leaders from all around the world attended this conference and I had the privilege of being one of the presenters.  Right after I spoke, I met the leader from Croatia in the lobby of the hotel.  She asked me if I would come to Croatia to speak at their national meeting.  I really didn’t know where Croatia was, and didn’t know anything about the country…and was confused as to why she would want me to come there to speak!  I said to her, “Why would you want me to come?  I don’t speak Croatian, am not a speaker, and have never even traveled outside of the USA!”  But then, something clicked in my mind, and I asked, “Wait a minute…isn’t Croatia near Medjugorje?”  She answered that it was only a 2-hour drive from Croatia, and said that if I came to Croatia, she would take me to Medjugorje!  At that point I think my jaw hit the floor, and I told her the story of how I had suddenly got the desire to go, and had just prayed for a way to go!

So, God is the One who arranged this trip…and I now see why!  It was a life-changing experience to see how the Holy Spirit is alive and working in the hearts of the people in Croatia!  There are only about 40 campaigns in all of Europe…and 26 of them are in Croatia!  They are incredibly organized, with the 26 local leaders reporting to the regional coordinators (Petra, Lidija and Marija), who then report to the national leader (Ante).  They begin and end EVERYTHING with prayer.  They put God before everything else.  We had Mass everyday, Eucharistic adoration and a visit to a shrine…along with many informative presentations and discussions.  Watching the joy and the unity among them made me feel as though God had plucked me up and set me down right into the middle of the early Church in Jerusalem, where all the believers were selling their belongings and sharing with one another.  These people traveled from their own towns to be together for FOUR DAYS!  I felt like such a part of them, that I cried when the conference ended…knowing that I had to leave and may never see them again.  It was a truly beautiful experience.  As a “spoiled” American, accustomed to comfort and affluence…to see these committed believers, who have suffered so much from the war in the 90’s and have just recently been freed from Communism….was a truly humbling and inspiring experience.  Through this experience, God reminded me of the IMPORTANCE of this battle to end abortion.  God REALLY cares about this!  This issue goes right to His Heart…and so we cannot give up or become complacent.  It also helped me to realize how united the family of God is.  Even though we didn’t speak the same language, and came from totally different cultures…we had a strong bond in our love from the Lord.  I felt more at home among them than I do when I am among non-believers of my own culture.  It was beautiful, (or as they say in Croatian…”Lijepo”).

lisa climbing cross mountain

And as for our three days in Medjugorje…it was a gift from God.  I carried the prayers for my family and friends to the top of apparition hill and cross mountain…and through the difficulties of climbing in the heat and on the sharp rocks…thanked the Lord for the opportunity to share in a tiny way with His suffering.  Being immersed for three days with believers from all around the world, speaking so many different languages…but united in our love for God, was wonderful!

lisa and nikki cross mountain

So thank you dear 40 Days for Life family, for reading about my experience.  I hope we can once again unite in prayer, fasting and peaceful witness to bring an end to abortion in Pittsburgh!  The campaign begins on September 27th and ends November 5th.  The schedule is posted and I am ready to sign groups up, so let me know if you are ready to choose your time slot at the vigil at Planned Parenthood.  Email me at nbruni@40daysforlifepgh.com

May God bless you throughout the summer!

Your sister in Christ,

Nikki

Day 36…St. Louise de Marillac (Upper St. Clair), St. Bernadette (Monroeville) and dedicated individuals shine on a sunny day!

 

      “But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you.”

John 8:37

Today’s Gospel reminded me of the plight of an unborn child.  Jesus was unwanted and rejected…as are so many little ones living in their mother’s wombs.

Think about it; Jesus came to this Earth searching for us, to save us…a rescue mission into enemy territory…and there wasn’t even a room at the Inn for him to be born in.  A stable would have to do.  This is why I believe he is especially close to those little ones whose own mothers have no room for them …even in their wombs.

 

The people he grew up with kicked him out of his own hometown, and even tried to throw him over a cliff!

 

Finally, his own people handed him over to the occupying Romans to be put to a cruel and humiliating death, just as so many parents hand their unborn children over to abortionists to be killed.  The price to have Jesus killed was 30 pieces of silver, but parents today pay between $500 – $900 to have their children killed by abortion.

 

Jesus must have a place especially close to his heart, in which to welcome each aborted child when they arrive in Heaven.  These precious gifts…sent back to Heaven un-opened…because there was no room for them on Earth.

 

Are we ever guilty of not having room for Jesus in our lives?  

A good way to find out is to do some simple math.  Each day we are given the same amount of time…all of us, equally, get 24 hours.  We need 8 hours to sleep and 8 hours to work, and depending upon our situation, we need time to take care of our kids and spouses or parents.  But where does God fit in?  Is he in our schedule?  Can we make room for him?

A regular prayer time, early in the morning will get our day off to a good start.  Stopping into a church during the afternoon for a little time with the Lord is also a good thing to do when running errands.  Reading his Word, a little bit each day is important.  Not enough time for prayer?  Try to identify what daily activities are not helping to draw you closer to the Lord (maybe TV or secular entertainment?)…and replace it with time with Jesus.

We are nearing the end of Lent, which is the perfect time to take stock of our lives…remove the clutter so we can find more room for God in our daily lives.  Coming to pray at Planned Parenthood is a good way to set selfish desires aside and do something meaningful…that could even save a life!

Speaking of saving a life…

I was so encouraged to read Alex’s report from the blog yesterday!  He was witnessing at Planned Parenthood from Hosanna Church, and he said that he heard a woman give her testimony about how she was pregnant and considering abortion…but because she kept seeing our signs on the sidewalk…day after day…she chose life for her baby!  We just never know how many lives are saved because of our witness!  So I encourage you to come out during these last 4 days!

I hope you can join us for the closing of our 40 day vigil by attending the prayer service, led by Pastor Joe Stump, this Sunday at 6:30 pm at Planned Parenthood..  Pot luck fun and social gathering will follow at 7 pm at Catholic Charities!

Now for the shift reports…

Sue D. managed the vigil from 7-9 this morning and wrote:

So it has been a pleasure to spend my Wednesday mornings praying with Peggy on the sidewalk! I consider her my co-shift manager, she is always early and has stayed after me to manage the shift so that I can get to work on time. Usually it is just the 2 of us after Diane and Marian head on their way. Today, we were joined by 3 men from St Louise who are  obviously veterans on the sidewalk….signing in, getting their signs and immediately starting to pray! From what we could tell, all workers entered PP including painters and flooring guys. A new medical chair was dropped off and it was just sad to think of it being used in PP. They must be renovating. About halfway through the shift, Andy’s mother came and Denny from St Louise. Katie, SA was also present. St Louise is covering the vigil up to 1pm today,  so the parishioners were coming and going to make sure their  commitment was fulfilled, we are grateful for the nice “crowd”!! Sue 😊❤

Faithful Wednesday morning prayer warrior Peggy, along with the prayerful men of St. Louise de Marillac
Faithful Wednesday morning prayer warrior Peggy, along with the prayerful men of St. Louise de Marillac

 

Cathy reports from the 9-11 shift:

Parishioners from St. Louise de Marillac were a prayerful presence today, with different people taking parts of their 4 hour shift.

It was a quiet day for the clinic.  They seemed to be closed except for staff, and  some workers who went in to do the floors.  Two young women, separately, did go in but came out right away.  Katie and Elsie were able to give them some literature and the resource list.  Hopefully they will go to one of those resources instead of coming back to PP.

Cil sent in pictures from a very busy 11 am to 1 pm shift:

20170405_121924
ANGELA
CIL'S FRIEND
CIL’S FRIEND, PATTI, AND GUARDIANS FOR LIFE MEMBERS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mark and david STOPPED IN TO PRAY.
MARK AND DAVID
K OF C
ALWAYS FAITHFUL, KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS

 

ST. LOUISSE DE MERRILAC
BEAUTIFUL GROUP FROM ST. LOUISSE DE MARILACC. SEAMUS IS SECOND FROM LEFT.

 

 

TERRI AND KATIE
TERRI AND KATIE, TWO POWERFUL AND BEAUTIFUL SIDEWALK ADVOCATES FOR LIFE!!
BILL AND BOB
BILL AND BOB– MARCH BIRTHDAY MEN
THE GUARDIANS FOR LIFE
THE GUARDIANS FOR LIFE- THE MOST DEDICATED PRAYER GROUP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris was the shift manager from 1-3.  He writes:

Andy, and Sue
Andy, Diane and Sue

For whatever reason, maybe because it was my last shift during this campaign, I felt heightened awareness of my surroundings today.  My shift started beautifully, with a warm hug from Cecilia and the glorious sounds of prayers and hymns from the Guardians for Life.  I was joined by Andy, Diane, and Sue throughout my shift.  Thank you for being there!  As we prayed several Rosaries, we noticed that the only foot traffic into PP were workers, a good thing.  A man stopped to chat and said that although he has lived in Pittsburgh for years, he was born in Saint Kitts, an island in the Caribbean.  He said that abortion is illegal in his home country and wondered why it was legal in the United States.  I explained that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against pre-born life in 1973 and said that we were there giving prayerful witness in hopes that the law of the land would be changed.  When I pointed to PP and mentioned that over 3,000 abortions a year were performed behind their doors, he said, “There?”  I said, “Yes”.  He was shocked.

Later two women walked by and saluted me with spittle at my feet.  My reaction was to remember lyrics from the hymn “Blest Are They”— “Blest are you who suffer hate all because of me; Rejoice and be glad, yours is the Kingdom, shine for all to see”.  Positive comments and “God Bless Yous” far outnumbered today’s negative comments.  Blessed be God!

Barbara wrote from the 3-5 shift:

St. Bernadette crew
St. Bernadette crew

Downtown in front of PP was lovely this evening.

Dee, Tom, Bill, Beverly and Mary Francis from St. Bernadette Parish, Monroeville, were joined by Bill, Bill H. and Jim.

Richard and I enjoyed their witnessing with us.  We prayed, handed out information cards and greeted passers by.

The shift went quickly and Joe came early as usual.

Everyone agreed that this Spring 2017 seems to have gone quickly.

Barbara 3-5

Joe K. shares this reflection from his 5-7 shift:

Faithful prayer warriors from St. Bernadette
Faithful prayer warriors from St. Bernadette

Drifted into the 5-7 shift with a personalized version of (Ringo Starr’s version of) the “No No Song” – Finally – No gloves, No hat, No hand warmers, No winter coat,…

OK, you get the idea…

The group from Saint Bernadette’s came strong and stood strong for my entire shift – Tom, Beverly, and Mary Frances were hold-overs from the previous shift and we were joined by Lisa and Ed.  Bill H. stopped by on the way home as did Jim who stayed through most of the shift…

Just a whole lot of sharing going on…  Even got to talk a little music, of course, in a religious context… about someone who knew a famous Pittsburgh musician who attended St. Bartholomew’s in Penn Hills…

Was able to hand out a”Watch me grow!” brochure to a curious young women looking at the fetal models.

Minimal folks exiting 933 Liberty this fine evening…  Looking at 933 (“the kingdom of rationalization”) the Dylan song “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” echoed in my head with lyrics like “He not busy being born is busy dying,” and “Money doesn’t talk, it swears,” – abortion, forgiveness, greed,… all in one uncomfortable, though tidy dark package…

All comments, facial expressions, and even hand gestures from the passerby’s were ALL positive+++

The usual joyous group of kids and mom passed by late but not before their usual stopping and handling of the fetal models… They never tire of this and are just awesomely amazed at the models…  Mary Frances told the littlest one that he came from his mom’s belly and it was too cute to watch him immediately turn and ask his mom for confirmation that this was indeed true…

Lastly, just want to send out a BIG THANKS to all that make this happen – thanks for the opportunity and blessings with being able to serve this campaign.

God Bless!!!

 

Day 29…St. Bernard of Clairvaux K of C (Indiana), McKeesport K of C and many Individuals pray on a beautiful day in Pittsburgh!

 

“…I do not seek my own will but the will of the One who sent me.” 

John 5:30

When I read Tim’s heartfelt blog post from day 20, I really felt his pain.  He wrote about God giving him a “do-over” after he felt that he had failed to say the right words to a woman who clearly did not want an abortion…but who went into Planned Parenthood anyway, in tears.  When she came back out minutes later, Tim was overjoyed at having a second chance to say all the words of encouragement that he felt he had failed to say the first time.  He got his “do-over”…but sadly, the woman still went back in.

When I reflected on today’s Gospel from John 5:17-30, I was struck by the phrase, “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes.”  It’s true that Jesus has the authority to raise the dead.  So, He could have saved that woman’s child from abortion if it had been his will, right?  That is what is so difficult for us to understand and to accept.  I mean, I know God gives us free will, and that woman who was crying as she entered Planned Parenthood was using her free will to take the life of her unborn child. So, that wasn’t God’s will that the child should die…it was hers.

I have been thinking about the POWER and AUTHORITY of God lately.  To be honest, I usually tend to think about God as being very loving and gentle.  I have never had a “fear” of God, and that is probably good.  But it struck me during my prayer time a few days ago that GOD OWNS HEAVEN.  It is HIS.  It does not belong to us, and we do not deserve it.  Death is ugly, terrible, difficult and horrible (I’ve witnessed it twice)…and that is what we actually deserve.  Eternal life in Heaven is blissful, paradise…all light, love and beauty!

Jesus' Heaven

But we cannot do anything on our own to get from ugly death to beautiful life.  Only the amazing power and authority of God can do that for us!  Thankfully, God is GOOD and he loves us, and so he WANTS us to be in Heaven with him, so he made a way through the sacrificial death of his Son, Jesus!

Abortion is ugly.  The building at 933 Liberty Avenue is ugly.  How can we keep from despairing when we witness injustice and the taking of innocent lives?  How can we stay encouraged and keep fighting the good fight?

I think the only way we can do it is to take our will and cancel it out.  Replace it with God’s will…make it our own.  Then he can work HIS POWER in our life!


Now for today’s stories from the sidewalk…

Sue D. had the 7-9 am shift and wrote:

I was greeted today by Diane’s smiling face. She already had everything set up and was talking with Peggy and Marian when I arrived. It was another quiet Wednesday. Some employees entered PP and maybe 2 clients. Peggy is a really great prayer partner and we covered the building and sidewalk in a rosary, divine mercy and chaplet of The Holy Face. Jim came as a SA before leaving for work. We handed out several 10 week feet pins, a child who stopped to look at the baby models was happy to have one! Bill stopped and we sang him “Happy Birthday” to try and make him smile…he had a second pin on today that said “I ❤ Life!” ~Sue

Happy birthday Bill!
Happy birthday Bill!

 

Cathy reported on the 9-11 shift:

The morning started out with Peg, who stayed a few extra minutes until Elsie arrived. A woman came storming past knocking down one of the sandwich boards, and was headed for the other one but we were able to stop her, though not her tongue which shouted out an expletive.  I don’t know if she was the same one who has done this before.  Elsie arrived shortly afterward and things were pretty quiet.  Hardly anyone went inside, though Elsie thought she recognized, but wasn’t sure, one of the doctors go in the building.  Around 10 a group of people from St. Bernard’s and St. Thomas Moore in Indiana PA arrived, with prayer books and got started with “Come Holy Ghost”  A passerby said we should keep our prayers in church. Apologies to the group:  Lisa, Irene, Lois R., T., Michele, Dennis, & Bill – for not posting the picture – technical difficulties

Cil managed the vigil from 11-1 and wrote:

Let us build the City of God….   The wonderful group from Indiana joined me at the vigil in singing this song that I’ve been humming all week long.  I do believe that we are there for that purpose, His purpose … to turn “night into day”, “tears…into dancing”.  May we continue to be “a light for His people to set their hearts free”!  We know we can because “the Lord our light and our love” has “conquered the night”!

SM Cathy took a picture of Lisa, Irene, Ray, Theresa, Michele, Bill and Dennis from St. Bernard and Lois from St Thomas More before she left.  These dedicated prayer warriors came all the way from Indiana on this beautiful day and spent the whole vigil time with me.  What a blessing to have the rosary, divine mercy and other prayers all throughout my shift!

SM Elsie stayed well into my shift to reach out to those passing by on “the other side” of the half circle while I tried to catch ones passing by on my side.  It is nice when both sides are covered.

Nothing too eventful my shift.  Mostly positive feedback and many said they will or are praying when I asked them to “please pray” as they walked by.

One young man did go off on an angry rant as he quickly walked by.  We really couldn’t understand much of what he was saying except that he ironically said to “keep praying”.

Another man yelled out that he was against abortion… that 5 of his children were aborted!

The workers at PP came and went with their lunches.  I told them that we could help them find better jobs…where babies aren’t killed… but nobody seemed interested.  They ignore us.  I pray they realize they can do so much better than PP.

A delivery guy delivered, among other things, saltines to PP…as if that will help the Moms feel better after PP rips the lives from their wombs.  🙁

The PP door guard looked out more frequently than normal and up and down the sidewalk.  He is friendly enough.

A police car pulled up near us and the officer got out and went down the street (to get something to eat?).  After he left, a couple officers came past us on bicycles but kept moving.  It’s kinda nice to have them coming around.

SM Bill came by briefly to pass along some info.  But that was it until SA Joan arrived to stand with Chris for a portion of his shift.

Chris arrived with a friend and he was still all in one piece after his ski trip!  It was nice to see him!

 

Chris wrote:

1:00pm-3:00pm

Diane, Sharon and Ken answered the call!
Diane, Sharon and Ken answered the call!

Thanks to the Email pleas for support, I was joined by four prayer warriors during my shift.  Two members of my parish, Diane and Sharon, joined me.  At first, we had our coats on due to the shade on the sidewalk.  Shortly thereafter, the sun made its appearance around a skyscraper, we shed our coats, and we were nice and warm.  Joan, a relatively new Sidewalk Advocate, was there when I arrived and stayed through most of my shift.  What a delight to meet her.  We were joined by Ken and we were praying the Rosary on each side of the infamous “circle”.  The only foot traffic I saw in and out of PP were workers and delivery people.  The more than a few positive comments and “God Bless Yous” were welcomed by us and returned in kind.  Barbara and her husband, Richard, as always, arrived early and we had a warm chat.

Barbara and Richard wrote from the 3-5 shift:

 

Shift Manager Chris had plenty of prayer partners today!
Shift Manager Chris had plenty of prayer partners today!

Chris and two friends from his parish prolife group gave us the sidewalk. Standing tall for the McKeesport Knights of Columbus, Joe and Mike arrived. They stayed and prayed with us.  Then, they got ready to cover 5-7 with Joe as shift manager. It was a blessing to share company with them on a lovely afternoon.

Barbara 3-5

And, last but not least…the final shift report of the day from Joe K.:

Blessed with a tremendous sun-splashed late afternoon shift that was shared with my McKeesport Knights of Columbus brother, Mike.

All was extremely peaceful throughout the evening…  In general, not much from passerby’s.  No driveby’s, no negative comments, just a few gentle smiles…

Regular, Jim, stopped by on his way home.  A young lady stopped to look more closely at the fetal models.  She accepted the offer of “Watch me grow!” flyer and then moved on.  The mother and 4 joyful children that always pass by stopped today and dipped into the little bin for some treats (with mom’s permission, of course).  Noticed a bit more a police presence this day around our area…  Finally, Bill H. stopped by on his way home and got another “Happy Birthday” serenade.

As the sun tuned-out, Diane arrived and packed away the supplies – now ready for another opportunity for us to make a difference…

 

 

Day 22…Guardians for Life, St. Joseph (Cabot), Corpus Christi parish and dedicated individuals!

 

brokenbarn

When something is ruined and broken, what do we do with it?  We get rid of it and begin again with something new…right?   

psalm139

That may be what WE do…but thankfully, it is not what God does!  Each one of us is His masterpiece!  Fearfully and wonderfully made!

We have ruined His masterpiece with sin, it’s true.  But God never gives up on us, no matter how much of a mess we have made of our lives up to this point!  Even if we seem to be a hopeless wreck of sin…He knows we are still a work in progress.  We just aren’t completed yet.  And we won’t be completed…we won’t be fulfilleduntil we fully surrender our lives to Him.

 

 

Fully surrendering our lives means submitting ourselves to his laws…

Yes, those ten commandments that God gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai three thousand years ago…and those commandments given to us by Jesus in the Beatitudes.  These “rules” are for our own good.  They don’t help God at all.  He doesn’t need our help….he is actually just fine without us.  But in His goodness and kindness…He gave us commandments to keep us from harming ourselves by sin.  Because He loves us.  And He wants the best for us.  And He wants us to live with Him forever in paradise.

The debate over abortion can get complicated, can’t it?  So many “talking-points” to remember when discussing the issue with those who disagree.  I remember talking with my former Methodist pastor years ago, who told me that Jesus never said abortion is wrong…that Jesus cared mostly about feeding the hungry and helping the poor.  I have to admit that I was rather stumped by his statement…and I didn’t come up with a very good reply.  Until I remembered the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.”  Hmmm…Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it!  I think we are safe to assume that this one still stands!

Now for today’s reports from the sidewalk…

Sue D. had the 7-9 am shift and wrote:

It was another quiet Wednesday shift. Just a handful of workers entered and no clients during our time! We were greeted by especially nasty comments from a man exactly at 7am. But God is good, cause He countered later with triple the amount of especially kind and grateful comments and gestures.  A man gifted us with 3 steaming cups of hot coffee, followed by a man who gave us a monetary donation, followed by a man who had seen the 7am interaction and apologized for the disrespect!!! It was a blessing to be there and spend time praying with Peggy, SA’s Jim and Katie! Sue 

The "purple people", Sue, Katie and Peg
The “purple people”, Sue, Katie and Peggy

Cathy reported for the 9 am- 11 am shift:

This morning was a little busier than the last two Wednesday’s, with about 5-6 clients going in, alone.  There were also workers going inside.  Katie and Elsie were there with me.

 

Cecilia took two shifts- and stood for life from 11 am- 3 pm:

The call  for witnesses was answered by prayerful men and women!  Sometimes the joy that is met on the sidewalk, makes me want to break into song.  Two songs came to mind to us after discussions with 2 different passersby.  One was Days of Elijah and the other was Overcomer.  We had to break out in song! 

What a blessed time on the sidewalk today!  I’ll be honest, I was concerned about pulling a double in 30 degree weather.  But the wind wasn’t as bad as last week.  And the great company and experiences made the time go by quickly. 
Once again, Joyce joined me for the trip and stayed the full 4 hours.  She came equipped with snacks to hand out and joined in prayer throughout the shift.  Joyce and Elsie got talking with Marissa who had much to share and is in need of prayers.  She said she was pregnant and was keeping her child.  Paul noticed that she needed to warm up and offered her the coat and scarf from our supply.  She gladly accepted.  It is nice to have that available for someone in need.

The Guardians for Life group was setting up shop when we got there and got right to work praying and singing.  It is such a pleasant way to spend time on the sidewalk… having the prayers going on continually as we try to reach out to those passing by.  We didn’t notice too many clients entering PP but they did have painters and workers coming and going.  Before the Guardians left, Joyce and I ran over to Brueggers for a quick break and put toe warmers on for the last two hours. 

When we got back to PP, the Guardians had just left when Anna Marie, from Holy Apostles, arrived.  She heard the call for people to join us for the 1-3 shift and had time free for a change.  We quickly found out that she has a St Joe’s connection….  Their Father Levi Hartle grew up at St Joe’s and Joyce and I know this awesome family very well.  We had just started praying the rosary when SM Jeff showed up.  He, too, heard the plea and came to the rescue!

We had several interesting encounters that second shift.  Elijah, who recently graduated college in Oklahoma, came by on his bike on the sidewalk.  He got off and told us how wrong abortion was.  This handsome young man said that he was a foster child himself and was raised by good people who taught him right and wrong.  He said that if people didn’t want their children, they should place them for adoption.  As we spoke, I offered him different material which he said he immediately would be able to share with family or friends…chastity info for his brother, abortion healing for a friend…  He was so supportive so I suggested he rally up some people to come and pray with us so we could get some young blood on the sidewalk.  Before he biked off, he gave me a hug and thanked us for being there.  I asked him his name and told him about “The Days of Elijah” song, one of my favorites.  Then after he left, we broke out in song with the help of YouTube!

Soon after, a man in his 20’s stopped and shared how he and his girlfriend found themselves pregnant.  But instead of abortion, they chose to place their child for open adoption.  They now stay in contact by receiving pictures of their child and were very happy with their decision.  It was a decision everyone could live with!  He took resources and I encouraged him to share their story.

Last weekend I was surprised to learn that Lisa K had watched the same video that my husband and I watched, “Priceless”.  Highly recommended!  Priceless was a real life story about women who get caught up in sex trafficking.  The movie was very tastefully done and was a big eye opener to this horror happening all around us.  I vowed to become more aware of the issue and wondered how our ministry might be impacted.  Anyhow, today God sent a Maureen to us.  At first she spoke generally about how, even though she thought abortion wasn’t right, she didn’t think it was right for kids to be brought up in bad neighborhoods or family environments and being forced to be involved with things (drugs…) that they wouldn’t choose otherwise.  We came to learn that, when younger, she was sent to truck stops and exploited.  She didn’t get into details and is fortunately doing much better now that she is in her 40’s.  She is at a point where she is working with a group that ministers to others.  We told her that God took something awful and is using her to help those in need.  But she still needs prayers for other issues that have come up that “scare” her that seem to be linked with her past so please keep Maureen in prayer.  When she walked off, Jeff came up with a song that described her well, “Overcomer”, so we broke out in song again!

That last shift went by so fast.  We were warmed by the sun, the encounters and the vigil participants who heard the call to join with us.  When SM Barbara and Richard arrived for their shift, SM Joe from the last Wed shift also arrived to represent his church for 4 hours!  How blessed I was to meet all the SM for the day except the early warrior, Sue!  You early and late comers have my admiration!  I think of you on the cold, wet or windy days and you inspire me to get through whatever we face in the middle of the day when it is often warmer and the sun is up.  God bless you all!  And I pray that SM Chris had a nice day off on the ski slopes and arrives back in one piece next Wed.

guardians for life
Guardians for Life

 

knights of columbus
K of C came with the Guardians
20170322_131704
Joyce with Anna Marie from Holy Apostles who heard the plea for help at 1:00. Attachments area

 

20170322_143409
Jeff, one of Diane’s helpers, came to stand for life when he heard the call.
20170322_112745
M accepted help today and was very grateful!

 

Barbara wrote from the 3- 5  shift:

barb and richard
Barbara and Richard- multi-tasking when it comes to their commitment to this mission.
Sunny, blue skies and good company.
When we arrived at PP this afternoon we were greeted by Cil, Joyce and Jeff.  After a four hour witness, they were ready to hand the sidewalk over to us.
Corpus Christi Parish, McKeesport, had signed up to provide prayer cover for 40 Days for Life for the 3 to 7 hours.
Joe, shift manager and Corpus Christi parishioner arrived promptly at 3.  Soon after, his lovely wife came and remained to pray for most of the shift.
Father Stephen Palsa joined us and led us in a Rosary, the Luminous Mysteries. 
The pleasant company and weather were so unusual and welcome.

joe, cecilia and jeff?????????????

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joe wrote from the 5-7 shift:

“Gentle on My Mind” seemed to be theme for me today…

It started off hearing an interview of a woman who’s conversion story from life in a “hate group” where “gentleness” in dialogue were the seeds for a change of heart…

Being semi-familiar with this John Hartford song made famous by Glen Campbell I took a closer look at the lyrics and was astounded how they spoke to what we literally and figuratively “face” at 933 Liberty Ave:

It’s knowin’ that your door is always open

And your path is free to walk…

The shift started and ended quietly as I was the lone remnant of the Corpus Christi contingent that had participated earlier – Thanks again to Fr. Steve and Lynda for making a special effort to be there today!!!

The majority of the shift was spent in quiet reflection, prayer and people watching…with an occasional brief greeting / acknowledgement sprinkled-in to those passerby’s that seemed open to it…

Fact is, an overwhelming majority of comments from passerby’s were positive… One kind soul passed by and said that he was praying for us, another person, that didn’t even pass by, but went out of their way to backtrack came up to me to thank us for being there and said he understood that this wasn’t easy…

But as folks hustled home from work as did the sun, “Darkness, Darkness” set in (at least a bit)…

One of my friends gave me the often familiar, always unimaginative, salute… Another driveby, one of the usuals (that I hadn’t seen since last fall) suggested that I should reproduce with myself adding-in for style points, and I quote, “you Christian Jihadist”…

It was “easy” to think of “gentleness” when the good comments / gestures came, but the true test was with the “un’s” (i.e., unkind, uninformed,…).  I’m comfortable this evening knowing that gentleness WAS on my mind and heart…

Day 15…St. Juan Diego, St. Bernadette and many dedicated individuals brave the bitter cold today!

“But it shall not be so among you.” Matt. 20:26

 Selfish ambition.  It’s the way of the world, right?  Dog-eat-dog…looking out for number one…using others to get ahead.  Isn’t that how the world works?

 

As I reflected on the Gospel reading from Matthew 20:17-28 this morning, I thought about how disappointed Jesus must have felt as he watched his own followers arguing about who was going to be the greatest.  I wonder if this is when he came up with the idea of washing their feet at the last supper?  We humans are a little dense, are we not?  We constantly need to be reminded by Jesus’ example.  We are prone to pride, jealousy, anger and selfishness.  I must confess that I reacted badly last Thursday to a passerby.  When a woman walked up to me with a smile on her face and said, “Thank you for being here!  Because you are here, I will be donating $7.00 to Planned Parenthood today!”  My humble, Christ-like response?  “Good!  They are going to need it!”

I was convicted when I read Pat’s blog from last Saturday.  He wrote the following:

Bite your tongue – No way to sum it up any better.  Most of the negativity we receive as we stand vigil (at least 80%) comes in the form of, what I call, “drive-by” comments.  These are people who, as they walk past, say something derogatory, but keep on going.  Fine.  Let them go.  Resist the urge to offer a retort.  To absorb the blow with grace gives evidence of your gentleness.  But saying something in response simply is to invite a confrontation.

But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father. Mt 5:44-45

The way of the world is not what Jesus wants for us.  He wants us to be different.  Set apart…like a light on a hill.  It can be challenging for sure!  We will definitely fail sometimes.  But that is okay, He loves us and knows our weakness.  He is there to help us get back up and try again.

I am so inspired by the sacrifice of so many individuals during this bitter cold weather!  I’ll bet Jesus is cheering us on…and is pleased with our efforts.


Read on for today’s shift reports…

Sue D. had the early 7-9am shift and wrote:

Peg shares the bitter cold 7-9am shift with Sue
Peg shares the bitter cold 7-9am shift with Sue

Today we saw another day of “blizzard-like” conditions, you can see the snow in front of PP in the picture of Peggy. It was a quiet morning downtown, school must have been delayed or cancelled because no students passed us and there were very few cars. Peggy and I were both prepared in our purple coats with multiple layers of clothing and  I also had my “man-hands”…(My husband’s  gloves paired with a snug glove liner).

Fashion on the sidewalk!
Fashion statement on the sidewalk!

It is the only thing that works to keep my hands warm, toes are another story! We got down to business praying the rosary and divine mercy. Mostly workers entered the building. We didn’t have a lot of interaction with passersby because most everyone was pretty bundled up! A little before 8am we did get a trifecta of negative comments…boom, boom, boom, 3 hostile people right in a row! The last person got in our faces and confronted us about the Healthcare Law. That last confrontation helped us focus on what our mission is here. It is not about anything else but standing peacefully and prayerfully in front of PP and hoping to turn hearts and minds to a culture of LIFE! Sidewalk advocates Jim and Katie came and the 4 of us stood for the remainder of the shift.

Cathy Z. had the 9-11am shift and wrote:

It was a quiet two hours with hardly anyone going into the clinic except workers and delivery people.  No one stopped for conversation – probably it was too cold!  S.A.s Elsie and Katie were there, as was Mary from my parish to pray.  Katie’s dad brought a heater!

Mary from St. Juan Diego parish, with SA Katie
Mary from St. Juan Diego parish, with SA Katie

Cecilia wrote about her 11am-1pm shift:

Praise God for keeping us safe for the drive in today.  The roads were not the best.  But the company was… Thanks again to my good friend, Joyce!

Joyce and Cil
Joyce and Cil

I was glad to see familiar faces from St Bernadette for my shift.  It was a very pleasant and prayerful time on the sidewalk with them.  Sue led us in the devotional for the day. 

Dee, Sue and Jerry from St. Bernadette
Dee, Sue and Jerry from St. Bernadette
Dave from St. Bernadette
Dave from St. Bernadette

It was nice to meet Karen from Christ’s Church.  And Joyce kindly brought and handed out crackers, granola bars… to those who passed by. 

Karen from Christ Church Ministries
Karen from Christ Church Ministries

One time after Joyce crossed through the circle, the security guard opened the door and motioned that she should walk around the semi-circle.  I tried to tell him that it was OK for us to walk through as long as we don’t talk with anyone inside the area.  But he couldn’t hear me so he came over to me and kindly listened as I explained about the court case that said we could pass through to go to the other side.  He nodded in understanding and went back inside.  It was a very pleasant encounter.  Later he came out to shovel the snow.  I told him thanks.  He said he wanted to keep people from falling.  Anyhow, I do think if the weather is nice, we could walk around the circle and we do need to refrain from “parading” back and forth.  But today the road was mucky and we were just crossing to get to the other side as we took turns warming by the heater.

Not too many came and went from PP.  Thankfully!  But one memorable girl came out and passed us by.  She was visibly very pregnant but did not accept resources from us.  I wondered what “service” was offered to her?…

I hardly recall any negative comments…many positive.  And I was able to give away all my 40 Days inserts that I brought along with some pregnancy resource cards.

Just when our toes had had enough, Chris arrived!  Again I believe he brought the sun with him!  I hope it helped to get the rest of our warriors through the cold and windy day. 

Chris managed the vigil from 1-3pm…

God Bless whoever brought the propane gas tank and integrated heat lamps!  What a difference it made for the few prayer warriors during my shift.  Traffic in and out of PP was very light today and I think the bitter cold weather discouraged passersby from making comments, positive or negative.  I was joined for the first 45 minutes by Dee and Dave, holdovers from the 11am shift.  It was great to see them!  While I was alone the rest of the time, it was fine, as I used the time to pray the Rosary and think in the quiet.  One of the thoughts I had on such a cold and windy day (several times the fetal models blew off their stand) was that we are there witnessing in front of PP to warm the hearts and consciences of those who enter their doors, with love and compassion.  Barbara and Richard, such a joy to see, relieved me for the 3:00pm shift.  

Barbara wrote about her 3-5pm shift:

Today was so cold.  The wind was relentless.

After the fetal model set went flying, Richard and I hunkered down and packed everything. My sign around my neck kept hammering me and I fought to restrain it.

Winds persisted. They threw our little fetal models up and then down. I had to take this pic. It felt poignant and true.
Winds persisted. They threw our little fetal models up and then down.
I had to take this pic. It felt poignant and true.

Although we battled the weather, passersby blessed us.  So many people gave us high signs and thumbs up.  We heard “God bless you” at least three times. 

I felt so grateful that we had only two hours in the cold and had a warm car and home and dinner to look forward to.  I was reminded about how comfortable my life is.

Here is a “shout out” to our steady comrade who showed up to stand with us every Wednesday last fall. “Get better, Hank. Be patient!  God bless you and your wonderful Judy and children.”

When Joe showed up for the next shift, smiling and sturdy, I was tempted to offer him $1000.  He smiled, waved us good-by and we left.

Joe and Fran finished out the final two hours tonight…

The shift started before the shift with thoughts of how to deal with the C.O.L.D. / wind with gusts up to 35 mph according to the “highly accurate” weather report 🙂

Though I was consumed of thoughts of physical warmth, the evening would fittingly be dominated by spiritual warmth, of course.

First, the usual warm greeting from 3:00 – 5:00 Shift Manager, Barbara.  She had made sure that nothing would fly away today – Thanks! 

I was then joined in short order by Fran from St. Joseph’s (Verona) who individually volunteered to stand with me so that I would not be alone.  I cannot express how much this meant…  I mean, I had to be there, but she volunteered to be there -on a nasty cold evening, in part, to make sure that at least 2 or 3 were gathered…  Thanks Fran!!!

As I stood in the doorway next to the bar, the sun played peek-a-boo on Liberty Ave.  I couldn’t help but think about that sun / sunshine and all that God has created…A women stopped her car in front of me and asked me if I was homeless  and needed some money – a wonderfully kind gesture that I may need to take her up on if I don’t get crack’n on my home improvement projects… 

Not even the coldness could numb the “negative” feelings expressed by few passerby’s…  a spit and the “old familiar gesture”…

I could not ignore the irony of a person exiting PP and entering a car with a “Bern” bumper sticker… 

I got to talk with / help a homeless gentleman, “L” – please pray for him. We prayed together.  I was able to give him some hand warmers and he tried on the coat from the bin, but it was a bit too small…

The shift ended quietly – numb physically, but spiritually much warmer than when it started…

 

In closing, I have to say that I am deeply humbled by the commitment shown by those who sacrificed on the sidewalk today.  I do not feel worthy to be leading such a wonderful group of people.  I wonder if I should have cancelled the vigil today?  I don’t want to ask too much of all of our 40 Days for Life family, and have people get discouraged and give up.  It is amazing to me that so many of our shift managers and individual participants have persevered all these years, through so many campaigns!  I don’t want to blow it now!  Let me know your comments…should we have a temperature limit in the future?

Thank you and may God bless you!

Nikki

Day 8…Guardians for Life, St. John & St. Mary (Delmont & Export), and individual volunteers were a “SIGN” to our city today!

jonah-and-the-whale-vrl-185371-6155669-full

“This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” Luke 11:29

As I reflected on this verse from today’s Gospel, it occurred to me how BEDRAGGLED Jonah must have looked as he dragged himself onto the shore of Ninevah.  After spending three days in the belly of a fish, he must have looked and smelled pretty bad!  He was sent by God to preach repentance to those wicked Ninevites…but why would they pay any heed to someone like Jonah?  Certainly he didn’t look very impressive as he staggered into their town, all slimy and smelly! But amazingly…THEY LISTENED!  They repented!  And, they were saved.

I find myself wondering lately if God is going to send our world a sign…to make everyone believe in Him.  I SO want Him to do this!  Maybe something in the sky or some supernatural occurrence…I don’t know…just something that no one can miss.  But maybe that is not how God works.  Maybe He likes to use the foolish to shame the wise of this world.  Maybe that is why He said we must be like children.

40 Days for Life started with just four people around a wooden table in College Station Texas in 2004.  We are small and simple.  There are usually just a few people at any one time, holding little signs, wrapped up in scarves and hats…wiping runny noses, praying, singing or just standing silently.  While the rest of the world rushes by on their way to important meetings, jobs, school…we just stand there.  I wonder, do we look as foolish to the world as Jonah did to the Ninevites?  I wonder, are WE the sign that God is sending to call His children back?  I for one am happy to be a SIGN…and I thank everyone who came out to be a SIGN today!

There is NO ONE to stand with shift manager Rick tomorrow from 5-6!  Please email me at nbruni@40daysforlifepgh.com or text me at 412-926-9413 if you can help!

Here are the reports from today:

Sue D. wrote about her 7-9 am shift:

I was greeted today by a trio of lovely ladies…Diane (materials manager), Marian and Peggy. Afterwards, Peggy and I separated to pray on each side of the building. It was very quiet there today. A handful of workers entered, but no clients. It gave us an opportunity to really buckle down and “pray hard”. 

A young man was standing close by with a camera and asked if he could speak with me. We discussed the purpose of 40 Days for Life and also the opportunity it gives us to offer practical help and choices to women. He respectfully asked to take pictures of the A-frames and baby models. I also gave him a yellow resource card. He gave me his business card and asked permission to post the pictures on his photography facebook page. 

We were also joined by Jim for a little while before he had to leave for work. Right before the end of the shift, a woman stopped to look at the baby models and told us how she lost her grandchild (naturally) at 14 weeks and that she got to hold the baby in the palm of her hand. She described the features of the baby’s face and was in amazement at the development of the little child. She thanked us for being there. 

Life is Good, Sue

Cathy had the 9-11 shift.  She wrote:

There wasn’t a lot of activity going into the clinic, other than workers, but several people came to pray – Rose W., David from Weirton, Elsie, and Fr. R. Gruber and a friend.  We had two negative encounters from people who were obviously hurting, and at least three positive ones.  A young man stopped to say that he agreed with us and that all PP needed to do was stop the abortions and there would be no issue with the funding!  He also said that his parents adopted a girl from Russia.  A young woman stopped to tell her story – when she was 15 she became pregnant.  Her family was pro-life, but people at her church told her she should abort.  She was able to go to a school with other  young moms, and had her baby.  An older, (not old!) prolife woman said she worked for public housing and their office is where PP used to be on Stanwix.  She said that when they first moved into the space, though it had been vacant for some time, it still had flies.  She said they had to anoint the space before they could work there.

Cil had the 11-1 shift…here are some photos from her:

Bill and Joyce
Bill and Joyce
Fr. Tim leads his Guardians for Life in constant prayer during their 2-hour shift
Fr. Tim leads his Guardians for Life in constant prayer during their 2-hour shift
Bob and Anna Marie stayed the whole four hours, representing St. John & St. Mary (in Export and Delmont)
Bob and Anna Marie stayed the whole four hours, representing St. John & St. Mary (in Export and Delmont)
Knight of Columbus, with sidewalk advocate Beth
Knight of Columbus, with sidewalk advocate Beth
Paul and Fr. Gruber
Paul and Fr. Gruber

Cil wrote:

I was so thankful for my friend, Joyce, to join me for the ride to Pittsburgh for the vigil.  We prayed a Divine Mercy on the way home.  It was nice to have Elsie on the right side for some time into the shift while I manned the other side giving away handouts.  And Terri stayed in position further down the sidewalk. She was able to engage many in conversation.  The “Guardians” and “Knights” quickly took their positions and immediate started into prayer and song throughout my whole shift.  We were blessed to have two Fathers with us for a while…Gruber and Tim!  Paul brought pictures of “Our Lady” and the “Sacred Heart of Jesus” with him to share with us.  Some “regulars” also stopped by to pray with us… Bob & Anna Marie, Beth and Bill.

We got into discussions with a few people.  One man was very supportive of our efforts.  He said that he was almost aborted.  The Drs said that he would not live due to problems with his liver.  His mom chose life instead and placed him for adoption.  He did have some health issues early on but is doing great and was praising God.

It was cool and breezy on our shift but dry.  So we were thankful.  The sun finally started to shine on us when Chris arrived to take over for his shift.  He is always a “ray of sunshine” on that dreary sidewalk.  I pray all went well the rest of the day…

Chris was the shift manager from 1-3.  He wrote:

It was a sunny and pleasant, but windy day in front of PP this afternoon.   So windy at one point that the sandwich-board sign blew over.  What a wonderful sight when I arrived, to see Father Tim and the Guardians for Life praying the Rosary and singing praises to Mary.  During my shift I was joined by Iris from my parish (St. John Neumann) and Mary, Bob, and his wife Annamarie from St. John & St. Mary (Export/Delmont). 

Iris, Mary, Bob and AnnaMarie
Iris, Mary, Bob and AnnaMarie

A little while later Judy, Father Joe’s mother, stopped by to pray with us.  The comments from passersby were overwhelmingly positive, with many “God Bless Yous” and “Thank Yous”.  Three middle-aged women stopped to talk with us while looking at the fetal models.  They said, “God Bless You for being here” and went on their way.  They even offered us some pastries!  Shortly thereafter, a man in his 20’s stopped to greet us and when we told him we were there for the next 32 days, he said he’d stop by tomorrow to hold a sign and pray with us.  There was very little traffic going in and out of PP, a good thing.

Iris, Judy and shift manager Chris
Iris, Judy and shift manager Chris

Barbara and Richard managed the 3-5 shift:

Today the Women’s march was scheduled for downtown Pittsburgh.  Richard and I were joined by Nikki for the 3-5 shift.  We never saw crowds of women. However, two angry women did stop by.

One woman noted that since she saw us standing there, praying and wearing our prolife signs, she was going to donate $3 to Planned Parenthood. We were pleasant and said, “God bless you,” and the woman walked on. As she got to the other side of the golden arch, she shoved over our very heavy 40 Days for Life information board.

Another woman stopped and asked me how I felt about hurting the feelings of women who counted on Planned Parenthood for their health care.  PP had “helped her sister survive cancer.” I asked for more information about PP and cancer care.  Speaking more loudly, she told me to step back because I was too close to her personal space.  I stepped back and turned to Joe who had just arrived.  Joe, Bill and I said a “Hail Mary” and the woman walked away.  I felt that I had failed her.

Going to the sidewalk feels like going “into the deep” as the Bible reference indicates.  We give it our best.

Richard with a very wind-blown Nikki
Richard with a very wind-blown Nikki
Shift manager Barbara, with Bill D. who arrived early for his 5-7 commitment
Shift manager Barbara, with Bill D. who arrived early for his 5-7 commitment
Love-birds Barbara and Richard
Love-birds Barbara and Richard

Joe K. had the 5-7 shift, he wrote:

Bill and Michelle made sure shift manager Joe had company!
Bill and Michelle made sure shift manager Joe had company!

Arrived a tad early for the first shift of the spring campaign.  Warm, sun shining, and not as breezy as I thought – hmm, not bad for the beginning of March!

As I was settling in for my shift I witnessed the gentleness and patience of Shift Manager Barbara as she was finishing a discussion with an angry young woman.  As Barbara and I prayed for this young lady – she became angrier and more spiteful and eventually wandered away…  OK, I’m awake now…

I was joined on my shift by Bill and Michelle who heeded the call-out to strengthen our presence – thank you so much for your dedication, sacrifice, and camaraderie.

Early in the shift a woman, “G”, stopped by to briefly tell us her abortion story and the regret and pain that is always there…  She asked for prayers, so we all prayed with her and she was given post-abortive information.  Please keep “G” her in your prayers.

The rest of the evening was fairly quiet – the positive comments from passerby’s outweighed the lone negative one…

Towards the end of the shift we were joined by Deacon Mike who offered his support.  He shared with us that he participates in vigil’s outside of an abortion facility run by the infamous abortion practitioner Martin Haskell (who is credited with “popularizing” the partial -birth abortion procedure).

I’d be remiss if I did not comment on today being denoted by some as a “Day Without A Woman” – my understanding was that there was supposed to be a march downtown, but  I only noticed a handful of folks that appeared to be marchers on my way through the city to my shift…  I did find it “interesting” that the “Women’s March” web page mentions about this day the “enormous value” that women add to our socio-economic system, emphasizing jobs / careers, but did notice “motherhood” or “parenting” mentioned (even briefly) or discussed. I notice references to phrases like “gender justice” and “women’s rights being human rights”, but  what about women in the womb and sex selection abortion…what about their “value” and this “injustice” and their “rights”???

 

Day 3…St. Thomas More Church ALL DAY TODAY!

jack nicholson

Okay…so maybe it wasn’t THIS bad…but it was COLD today!!!  But the cold and bitter wind didn’t stop the dedicated members of St. Thomas More Church in Bethel Park!  Lead by their fearless and energetic leader, Jeannie, they covered the vigil in front of Planned Parenthood ALL DAY, from 7am till 7pm!  Jeannie actually stayed the entire 12 hours!  I am inspired by her and by all of those who stood out in the bitter cold today!

The Gospel today speaks about fasting, and the connection it has to MOURNING.  Jesus said, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?  But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.”  Matt. 9:14-15

So I was thinking about the way we mourn…how we show our sorrow when someone dies.  My mother-in-law died a couple weeks ago (thank you to all who sent cards…my husband was SO touched!)  During her month-long illness, he basically dropped everything and took care of her until she passed away. A construction job he had begun before she got sick just had to wait.  During the two-day viewing, many people re-arranged their schedules to make time to come to the funeral home and to the funeral.  Relatives traveled hundreds of miles.  People missed work…some had to stay in hotels and spend money that they didn’t plan on spending.

Why am I writing about this to you? Because death doesn’t always happen when it is CONVENIENT. When it comes, we drop everything!  We change our schedules…we miss other important things so we can show our support to the family…we inconvenience ourselves!

If we only witness at abortion clinics when it is warm and sunny…(maybe on Saturday afternoons when we have some free time and nothing else scheduled), how is that mourning?  Jesus said we would FAST when we mourn.  Fasting is a sacrifice, it is a small suffering.  

3,198 unborn children were killed behind the doors of Planned Parenthood at 933 Liberty Avenue in 2015.

So when we mourn the loss of these precious lives at Planned Parenthood, we are sacrificing and we are suffering.  What a beautiful example of true love and mourning Jeannie and the folks from St. Thomas More Church gave to our city today!

Early bird shift:

Sun shining on Bob from St. Thomas More and stalwart 49 Daysers Sally, Al and Bill. Chilly chilly chilly but beautiful.
Sun shining on Bob from St. Thomas More and stalwart 40 Daysers Sally, Al and Bill. Chilly chilly chilly but beautiful.

Mid-day on the sidewalk:

Cathy, Kathryn (hidden) , Jerry, Jake, Kathy & Mary Pat using the most powerful weapon-- prayer!!
Cathy, Kathryn (hidden) , Jerry, Jake, Kathy & Mary Pat using the most powerful weapon– prayer!!

Un-freezable:

Marilyn and Peggy exuded Love!
Marilyn and Peggy exuded Love!

Afternoon Crew:

day 3 gang from st. thomas
Patty,Jerry,Kathryn, Jake, Kathy, Cathy, Mary Pat and Marilyn
Afternoon crew from St. Thomas More
Afternoon crew from St. Thomas More

Jeannie wrote:

Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes to all  that came our way today!

We kicked off the bitter morning with the 40 Day faithfuls:  Al and Sally  and marvelous Marion.  Bob from St. Thomas More began our day’s attendees.  We gathered in prayer and God provided the MOST BEAUTIFUL blue sky with a perfect slice of sunshine angled between buildings.  It was 10 minutes of splendor and one more sign of Him watching.

Midmorning clouded up and the wind began to kick up— STM prayer warriors had great support from sidewalk advocates Kathy and Peggy.  We welcomed 2 first time participants today—WELCOME to  The FAMILY, Marilyn and Matt.  We were also gifted with the presence of teen Kathryn whose sister works in sidewalk advocacy .   What blessings!

The later group of STM prayer partners, Karen, Carolyn, and Terry were joined by Walt from Washington and Tim from Mt. Lebanon.  We broke out more of the handwarmers as the wind kicked up and the mercury dropped.  The huddled prayer circle warmed us all a bit!

The students from CAPA are always a joy to watch and today, many of them were still reacting to the return of our fetal models  to the sidewalk for this vigil session—they really do LOOK at them.   What an education!

Headed toward evening we were joined by first-timer Matt.  This 20-something year old saw a bulletin announcement, heard a reminder, and decided to JOIN US on the sidewalk.   What a WONDERFUL person he is, and we are looking forward to him stopping in another time…. Be on the lookout!

Tomorrow, we have ANOTHER dedicated shift manager, Barbara, who is also committing to stay ALL DAY with her parish, Holy Wisdom & St. John XXIII!  We sure do have a wonderful team here in Pittsburgh!  So Saturday’s coverage should be fine.

Sunday could use another prayer volunteer during the hours of 7-9am and 5-7pm.  During those times, there is only the shift manager and one other person scheduled to be there…a third person would be very much appreciated!

Day 1…CANCELLED!

Although the vigil was cancelled today because of thunderstorms early this morning, and predicted thunderstorms throughout the day, the weather is looking pretty nice this afternoon!  So, if any prayer warriors venture to Planned Parenthood today, feel free to send me photos and pictures and I will post them here.  Sue D. was our 7-9am shift manager, and although she didn’t go to the vigil to pray, she still used that time to pray for an end to abortion.  Here is her report:

I am happy to report that Day 1 of our 40 Days for Life Vigil has not been “cancelled”, oh no…the  battlefield was simply moved. Moved to our Churches and to our Homes. I got the notice this morning before heading out to begin the first shift of our 40 Days for Life that we will not start today due to the threat of severe weather. But the thing is, we did start!  Fr Rudolph spent his committed time slot at his church praying and I used my 2-hour time slot in a similar way. I did some praying at home and then went to church for the second hour. 

I have recently come to learn about  the Chaplet of the Holy Face and that it is powerful during times of intense spiritual warfare, which we all understand we are in at this moment in time! The chaplet honors five senses of Jesus….touch, hearing, sight, smell and taste. I plan to use it during this Lenten campaign since it also ties into the Passion and Veronica’s Veil. Also, the opening prayer for the Mass I was able to attend (since I was not on Liberty Avenue) was as follows: “Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.”

Ready to Begin…what you need to know…

beginning-race

40 Days for Life is about to begin!  

Next Wednesday, at 7:00 am our 12-hour-per-day prayer vigil will begin on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood in Pittsburgh, and it won’t end until 7:00 pm on April 9th.  We now have 72 churches/groups signed up and many dedicated individuals have also filled in hours.  I am happy to report that out of the 480 hours, we have only 48 hours that are still empty!  I will list them at the end of this email, and I hope you will let me know if you can help to fill some of them!

You can view the schedule at http://40daysforlifepittsburgh.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Click-here-to-view-schedule-of-participating-churches-for-Lent-2017-campaign-64.pdf

We have such an awesome group of volunteer vigil shift managers who make our 40 Days for Life possible!  These 40 individuals commit to their regular “shift”, knowing that if no one signs up, they may have to stand alone.  They are committed and selfless, and I am privileged to know all of them and to call them my friends. About a week ago, our 40 day vigil was only about two-thirds filled.  So, I asked the shift managers if they could find someone to accompany them to their shifts, so if no one shows up, at least they won’t be alone.  Many of them have done this, as you will see when you look at the schedule http://40daysforlifepittsburgh.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Click-here-to-view-schedule-of-participating-churches-for-Lent-2017-campaign-64.pdf , So the hours that I list at the end of this email are the hours that truly need someone to come!  Of course, I hope that people will also come where they see it is just a shift manager and friend …three is better than just two!  (“A three-strand cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12)

The fasting calendar is also looking pretty good, although it looks like quite a few weekends are still in need of volunteers to sign up to fast (bread and water or liquids only).  Go to https://signup.com/client/invitation/6775657374/1764857/false#!1764857/false/false  to sign up!


In addition to up-dating you on the 40 Days for Life vigil at Planned Parenthood, I also wanted to give you my thoughts about this up-coming campaign:

To be honest, I never really believed that I would see the day when the over-turning of Roe vs. Wade would actually be a possibility.  (I am embarrassed for you to know of my weak faith…but there it is.)  I am in awe of how God has… and still is…answering our prayers. He is doing HIS part…but now it is up to us to do OURS!!!

You see, I believe that even if Roe vs. Wade is overturned…unless the hearts of the people are converted…it will not last.  There is so much anger and hate on the side of the pro-abortion people (and there are a LOT of them!)…that if this were to happen, they would just bide their time until they’re able to change the laws back.  And then, we would probably be in a worse state than ever before!  What comes to my mind is this verse from Luke 11:24-26:  

When an unclean spirit comes out of a man, it passes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left. On its return, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and dwell there. And the final plight of that man is worse than the first.”

So the thing that is on my heart, which I want to share with you before our 40 days begins is this:  joan-of-arc-1882

I believe that this is the critical time for ALL CHRISTIANS to prepare themselves spiritually and physically…as if we were getting ready for a battle.  I’m talking PERSONAL HOLINESS.  I’m talking deepening our prayer life…setting aside time DAILY to pray and read scripture!  I’m talking FASTING and doing away with self-indulgences!

If we are going to be ready to encounter the anger and hostility in our culture with love and gentleness…(which is the only TRUE strength)…then we need to be in shape!  We need to be ready!

 

So here are three points I hope we will all keep in mind as we prepare to represent Jesus Christ on the sidewalk during this season of Lent:

  1.  HUMILITY – Remembering my own sins and recalling how merciful God was to ME will keep me from feeling “superior” to those who have not yet come to a realization of their need for God.
  2. GRATITUDE – Being THANKFUL that God has given me the understanding of what is good and what is evil will help me to be kind and gentle to those who are still spiritually blind.
  3. PEACE OF SOUL – When I am mindful of these first two points, it will be possible (with God’s grace) for my peace to be undisturbed when I am persecuted by those who are angry, and my love for those who are mistreating me will remain intact.

This is the way we can be ready when God answers our prayers!  This is the way we can prepare the soil and sow the seeds, so that when the out-pouring of His grace and His Holy Spirit rains down upon us…there will be a great harvest of souls.

In closing, I will leave you with something to keep in mind.  Conversion IS possible!  33 years ago I walked into Planned Parenthood…a lost and lonely 19 year-old girl…pregnant, unmarried and with no health insurance.  As I stood at the counter asking if they could help me…the man took out the appointment book and asked, “When would you like to schedule it?”  I asked him what he meant.  He answered very matter of factly, “The abortion.”  I didn’t want an abortion…I wanted HELP!  So I left that place.  Thanks be to God I am no longer lost and my daughter has a beautiful family, which would not be here if I had accepted Planned Parenthood’s only offer of “help”.  Here is a recent picture of them:

tara and family
My daughter, her husband and my sweet little grandkids

And, to encourage you further…a recent photo of the twin boys who were scheduled to be aborted at Pittsburgh’s Planned Parenthood last April, but whose mom bravely chose life because God used our presence on the sidewalk to show her there was help and hope:

rowan and wyatt
Twin boys spared from abortion are growing big and healthy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s be there on the sidewalk as a witness of hope and conversion for those who are open!  Let’s be a witness of God’s merciful love and gentleness!

HERE ARE THE VIGIL HOURS THAT ARE MOST IN NEED OF VOLUNTEERS:

Thursday, March 2nd from 2-3p (Shift manager Lisa K alone!)

Tuesday, March 7th 12-3p (SM Regina alone at noon and Nancy alone from 1-3)

Thursday, March 9th from 1-3p (SM Lisa K alone) AND 5-6pm (SM Rick alone)

Friday, March 10th from 1-3pm (SM Katie alone) AND 3-5pm (SM Marshall alone)

Saturday, March 11th (ST. Patrick’s Day parade)….FEARLESS MEN needed! Especially from 4-7pm (shift manager Kathy from 4-5 and Jeff from 5-7)

Sunday, March 12th from 7-9am (SM Jen alone)

Monday, March 13th from 10:30-12p (SM Johnny alone)

Wednesday, March 15th from 5-7p (SM Joe K. alone)

Thursday, March 16th from 2-3pm (SM Lisa K alone)

Friday, March 17th from 3-7pm (SM Lisa C and kids alone from 3-5 and SM Pat alone from 5-7)

Monday, March 20th from 7-9am (SM Kathy alone) AND 11-1 (SM Johnny alone) AND 1-3pm (SM Rose alone)

Tuesday, March 21st from 2-3 (SM Nancy alone)

Thursday, March 23rd from 1-3 (SM Lisa alone) AND 5pm (SM Rick alone)

Friday, March 24th from 3-4pm (SM Lisa C & kids alone)

Saturday, March 25th from 5-7pm (SM Jeff alone)

Wednesday, March 29th from 2-3pm (SM Chris alone)

Friday, March 31st from 3-5 (SM Lisa C & kids alone)

Thursday, April 6th from 2-3 SM Lisa K alone)

Friday, April 7th from 2-3p (SM Katie alone) AND 3-5p (SM Lisa C & kids alone)

Sunday, April 9th from 7-9a (SM Jen alone)

Sign up at https://40daysforlife.com/local-campaigns/pittsburgh/

or email me at nbruni@40daysforlifepgh.com to let me know which hours you can cover.

Thank you!

Nikki