This is what I was looking at for the first hour of my 7-9am shift this morning. It was a quiet, peaceful time to pray, while looking at the creepy glow of the lamps that are on either side of the ominously arched doors of Planned Parenthood. A comment that someone made at our 40 Days team meeting last night crept into my mind. Someone asked if we can find out how many abortions have been committed at this location, so that we could make a sign letting the public know. Planned Parenthood reports to Harrisburg every quarter, so we get the exact numbers annually…broken down by quarters. I just got the numbers for 2013 last week…broken down by trimester. There were a total of 2,492 lives lost by abortion at Pittsburgh’s Planned Parenthood in 2013 (2,377 first trimester and 115 second trimester).
I thought of the old McDonalds signs from the 70’s and 80’s that displayed the number of customers served. Do you remember their slogan? “Over one-million served’? Wouldn’t it be something if Planned Parenthood did that? With an average of 2,500 abortions each year at this location, for the past 20 years…imagine a sign like this hanging over those doors:
Maybe they think the picture of the pretty, smiling lady that they have in their window currently is better for business.
I am sorry for the rather cynical tone that this blog is taking today. I didn’t really plan on writing about something so discouraging…especially today, which is the day that many Christians celebrate the day that the Angel Gabriel came to Mary to ask her to become the mother of Jesus…the mother of God Himself! It doesn’t seem fitting that I am writing about all those who have said NO…on the day we celebrate Mary saying YES.
50,000 mothers…who didn’t want to be mothers. Scared, confused, pressured and coerced…maybe even forced into saying NO to the life that was within them. But today we remember OUR MOTHER…the one who said YES. She must have also felt fear and confusion creeping in…as she wondered how she would tell her parents and Joseph the news that she was pregnant. But her trust in God was greater than her fear. And isn’t that what we all should strive for each day? Each day we get to CHOOSE either to do what WE want…or what GOD wants. What does God want us to do while the tragedy of abortion continues to go on in our midst? How comfortable does He want us to be while His precious little ones are being killed each day behind these doors?
It’s true that we can’t stop it…so what is the point of our sacrifice of standing at the vigil? What is the point of giving up sleep, food and time, and being inconvenienced by driving and parking downtown…if we can’t do anything to stop this shedding of innocent blood that just continues year after year?
My only answer to this question is to say that if someone I really loved was laying in a hospital bed suffering…I would not want to be enjoying a steak dinner and watching a funny movie while I sat at their bedside. Even if there was nothing I could do to alleviate their suffering…I still would not feel right about “enjoying myself” while they suffered next to me. I would want to read from the Bible and pray…maybe even sing (of course THAT might ADD to their suffering!). But you get the point. If we love someone, we want to suffer WITH them….even if we can’t take their suffering away. I guess that is why we do 40 Days for Life. We are suffering with Jesus. We are suffering with the moms and dads and with the little boys and girls that will never get to be born. Why? Because we love them.
Now…onto the stories from today:
I (Nikki) was the shift manager from 7-9…subbing for shift manager Bob, who had an emergency come up. (Please pray for his family as his mother is passing and his dad will be devastated after 67 years of marriage).
As I wrote above, the first hour was spent peacefully praying alone, while it rained. I stayed somewhat warm and dry under my many layers and my umbrella. Many workers entered the clinic, and I hope my presence there was a sign to them that what they are doing in there is so wrong that some crazy lady is willing to stand outside alone in the rain to pray to stop it. For my second hour I was joined by Peg from St. John Capistran in Bethel Park.
Her company was much appreciated and the second hour went by uneventfully. Towards the end of my shift, couples were beginning to go in. I saw at least three couples and a few single girls enter, in addition to many workers. Only one single girl accepted literature.
At 9:00, my replacement shift manager, Cathy, showed up for her 9-11 shift.
Cathy was also scheduled to be alone for her shift, but Diane put out an email to the team that help was needed and Marian answered the call! Marian reported for Cathy:
Spoke with proud parents of devon jr.- not with them as they were walking. They are very happy. Never considered not having baby. Very proud papa. People did take resourse material. Assisted a young veteran whose day wasnt going well. Kathy and i saw him get assistance. I talked briefly to one young man. He was just walking by. At first reluctant to take info. I may have caught him off guard. He walked by a little later with a box of pizza. He made eye contact . I saw him put the bright pink resourse sheet in his pocket. We had pouring rain! People cordial.
Seamus filled in for my 11-1 shift, since I did the 7-9. Thanks so much Seamus! He writes:
“I do not conceal your righteousness within my heart; I speak of your loyalty and your salvation. I do not hide your mercy or faithfulness from a great assembly.” Psalm 40:11
On this beautiful Wednesday, here we are, Lord; we come to do your will.
The faithful and fiery prayer warriors from the Guardians of Life from the Latrobe/Indiana area answered the call and shunned the rainy day with glorious non-stop hymns and prayers before the “public assembly” of PP and Liberty Avenue, often on their knees in the pouring down rain. Fr. Tim was joined by Sr Donna Marie, Peggy, Dom, Barb, Gail and Rudy. Also reinforcing our ranks were Lois from Calvin Presbyterian and Gary from St. Matthias. It was a fairly quiet day as far as people entering or exiting PP other than employees but we did hand out a few leaflets and lots of smiles. The rain fell down but our prayers went up and the Holy Spirit watched over us all and ruled the day.
A little further on into the early afternoon, we were privileged to have Donna, Bill D, Mary and Bill W from Riverview Baptist of McKeesport joining us in prayerful vigil and I was thrilled to be able to serve with so many faithful at one time. On a personal note, I get giddy to have three or more denominations represented at one time. How great is our God?! Praise be to God!
Chris managed the vigil from 1-3 and wrote:
When I arrived, I was very unhappy with the local weathermen who said it was going to be 62°; it was 43° at the start. But God smiled down on us, stopped the rain, and gradually warmed the day. I was joined by faithful prayer warriors from Riverview Baptist Church and fellow parishioner, Mary Lou, from St. John Neumann. Only several couples entered PP during the two hours. Mary Lou and I prayed the Rosary and tried to engage passersby in conversation by offering a warm “Hi, how are you?” greeting. Several people offered encouragement and “Thank Yous” to us. Mary Lou had a long conversation with a woman who had given up two children for adoption and sees them often. She commented that abortion has been legal since her birth in 1973, the year of the Roe v. Wade decision, but that she had never believed that having an abortion was the right thing to do.
Diane stood in for Barbara during the 3-5 shift, since it was her parish, St. Paul Cathedral…along with St. Regis in Oakland that adopted the 3-7pm shift. She wrote:
Today was pretty quiet at pp. Fr Mark Thomas from St Paul came at 3, joined later by Fr Richard Ulam from St Regis Oakland. Marion stopped by on her way to work, after having been there this morning to stand with Cathy. Beth S also came and what a God-send her presence was. Two young women from a local Catholic university were heading into pp for “gynecological info” when Beth offered them the local resources pamphlet and began a 15 minute discussion with them about what pp actually provides. By the end of their discussion the students were heading down the street to Catholic Charities for true life-giving resources. If Beth had not come down to the vigil…If she had not taken the training to intervene…I fear to think if those girls were left only in my hands….I would have missed them totally. We all of us are a team, where one is weak another is strong, where one unwilling, another willing. Not a trite saying, but anecdote verified daily in the blog accounts.
5-7 Shift manager Jim & Audrey wrote:
Lots of energy and spirit on the sidewalk Wednesday 5-7 pm, thanks to Fr. Mark from St. Paul Cathedral Parish, Fr. Richard from St. Regis Parish, and LOTS of prayer warriors from St. Paul Cathedral. Thanks to Diane and Tom for promoting at St. Paul Cathedral…..it was great to have Kris, Michelle, Matthew, Ruby, Heather, Mark, Nick, Alice, and Francisco join us. We sang hymns, prayed the Rosary, and received spiritual guidance with nice Prayer from Fr. Richard. We had a great presence and received well wishes from several passers-by….the photos speak for themselves!
PLEASE NOTE THAT PRAYER VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED TOMORROW (THURSDAY) FROM 7-9AM AND ALSO DURING THE 4PM HOUR! Please come pray with Marian between the hours of 7-9 and Jeannie at 4!
Also…please join us THIS SUNDAY for our CLOSING RALLY!
Meet at Planned Parenthood at 6:30 pm as we close out the last half hour of our 40 day vigil together! Fr. Rodolph Wakim, of Our Lady of Victory Church in Carnegie will lead us in closing prayers and we will sing hymns. At 7pm we will walk the short block to Catholic Charities Welcome Center for a time of fun, fellowship and food! (Please bring something yummy to share.) Intent will inspire us with their music, Jen Branson from Women’s Choice Network will share some exciting and inspiring news with us, and we will open up the mike to anyone wishing to share stories from their experience on the sidewalk (time permitting).