Day 1…Knights from St. Bernard of Clairvaux (Indiana PA), Our Lady of Victory (Carnegie) and many devoted individuals start off our Lenten witness!

Our 40 Days for Life vigil has begun!

Thanks to everyone who braved the cold and snowy evening to come to our kick-off event last night at Synod Hall!  It was a wonderful time of fellowship and inspiring music and speakers!  Thanks so much to Fr. Stubna of St. Paul Cathedral for allowing us to use the hall, and thanks to Aaron Greer for providing the beautiful music, and to Rev. Dr. John Guest and Fr. Ed Wichman for inspiring us with their powerful messages!  Photos from the event are posted at the bottom of this blog post, scroll down to see them.

The sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood was bitter cold at 7am this morning, but that didn’t stop our wonderful Diane from delivering all the vigil materials that make our time more comfortable and meaningful.  She has even added a boom-box with Christian music for a nice background to our prayers!  Laminated prayer cards now hang handily from the sandwich board sign, and handwarmers, signs and other materials are all sorted neatly in the box.  Thank you Diane!!!

Diane actually wrote a little something that was on her heart this morning, and I am going to post it here…it really helped me to have a new perspective of what we are doing…and why I should be more grateful for this opportunity to offer this tiny bit of suffering for Jesus.  She wrote:

What are we doing in this vigil?  Well, we are not praying against abortion, as if it were a philosophy or an action to be prayed against. We are praying for something – or rather for some ones. We are praying  to Jesus Christ to ask that He convert hearts to Himself.  It is a positive action we undertake.   Praying, in peaceful charity and by explicit songs of God’s mercy, we are praying primarily for the salvation of souls, and effectually the end to all killing and harm of innocents.  What a privilege to be graced by God to do this vigil!   This side of Heaven is our only chance to to do anything physically for Jesus, to work for Him, to suffer for Him.  Yet He does it all! – We just show up!  90% of life is just showing up for us.  He gives us good companions, warm clothes, transportation, prayer rolos and Gospel Music, organized sidewalk advocacy, pregnancy resources, all supported by our churches, families, and Pittsburgh’s indefatigable PCUC. 

Thank you for those beautiful thoughts Diane!

Diane also mentioned that she has been collecting coats, hats, scarves and gloves to keep in the bin on the sidewalk, so that we have something to give to those who stop by our vigil that are in need.  She reported that at 7pm tonight, she was able to help a young man by giving him a coat, hat and gloves.  She also said that someone stopped by the vigil today and generously donated bus cards.  Thanks to the generosity of those who have donated items for our little mission on the sidewalk!

Now for the shift reports so far…

The early morning shift manager, Sue wrote about her time from 7-9am:

So the Spring 40Days for Life kicked off with a large group! Walt had the idea to bring bags of Doritos to connect the recent Super  Bowl commercial with what we are attempting to do on the sidewalk…Help people recognize the Humanity!! Marion came to stand before she had to go to work. Pete and Lisa also stood with signs to be witnesses to everyone passing by, as well as the people and workers entering planned parenthood. Faithful Bill came also! We had a chance to pray and we received supportive comments but very few negative ones! Happy to stand for Life, Sue

 

Bill and Lisa helped to fill the 7am hour, which had been empty. Thanks for your early morning sacrifice!
Bill and Lisa helped to fill the 7am hour, which had been empty. Thanks for your early morning sacrifice!
Shift manager Sue, with vigil participant Walt
Shift manager Sue, with vigil participant Walt

Charlotte was the shift manager from 9-11, and she looked pretty well frozen when I (Nikki) arrived for my 11-1 shift. She had lots of company, with the men from the Knights of Columbus from St. Bernard of Clairvaux in Indiana County.  Charlotte was a shift manager years ago, for quite a few 40 Days for Life campaigns, but had to take a break to take care of her mom, who sadly, passed away recently.  Welcome back to our team Charlotte, and thanks so much for your sacrifice!

Shift manager Charlotte is BACK!
Shift manager Charlotte is BACK!

My 11-1 shift went well, surrounded with the warm and godly fellowship of the men from Indiana County.  Ray, who coordinates the group, led us in prayer and always lightens the dark mood in front of that place with his gentle but humorous spirit.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux K of C, with Walt and Jim, a new sidewalk advocate
St. Bernard of Clairvaux K of C, with Walt and Jim, a new sidewalk advocate
Many men came to pray today...I was definitely out-numbered!
Many men came to pray today…I was definitely out-numbered!

 

Walt stayed from 7am until after noon! Amazing dedication! He brought the doritos...which made me laugh.
Walt stayed from 7am until after noon! Amazing dedication! He brought the doritos…which made me laugh.

It was an abortion day today, and a busy one at that.  Many couples went in.  Sidewalk Advocate Elsie was on the opposite side of the circle and was doing an amazing job of reaching out to them with options and resources.  She has such a humble and loving demeanor.  It is wonderful to see a vulnerable, open and loving heart on the sidewalk in front of an abortion clinic.  In the midst of so much hardness, callousness, anger, discouragement, confusion and just plain evil…to witness such a pure, good, loving and vulnerable soul was an inspiration to me.

One couple did stop and talk for a minute, and explained they just couldn’t afford another child.  They went in, after refusing my offer of help.  Elsie was praying for a young, pretty teenage girl who had gone in with a friend earlier this morning, whom she had spoken with.  The girl said she wasn’t decided as to what to do, and was only going in for counseling…but as of 1pm, she still had not come out.  There are so many to pray for!

My phone died because of the cold, so I wasn’t able to take a photo of Cathy when she arrived for her 1-3 shift.  She was scheduled to stand alone for the 2pm hour, but we were hoping someone would “just show up” to be with her.  But, it doesn’t look like that happened.  Here is a picture of her standing alone, taken by “off-duty” shift manager Mark, who drove by the vigil at 2pm and texted the picture to me.

Shift manager Cathy stood alone at the vigil this afternoon.
Shift manager Cathy stood alone for just 40 minutes at the vigil this afternoon.

Cathy wrote:

When I arrived at 1 the three gentlemen from St. Bernard’s in Indiana, PA had already been there for 3 hours praying with Nikki.  We continued praying for awhile and then “The Four Tenors of PGH 40 Days”  sang some hymns before they left.  During that time Sue tapped me on the shoulder and said all her kids were in the car parked nearby.  It was too cold for them to stand outside so they had prayed a rosary in the car.  I went over and saw five happy faces, all bundled up, in the car.  Thank you Sue and your children, for your prayers and beautiful witness!  Lisa stopped by again for a few minutes, and Mark M., a Monday shift leader also stopped to pray.  There was a fair number of people in and out of the clinic; I was able to give out 2-3 pink resource flyers.

Barbara and Richard were the shift managers from 3-5pm and wrote:

Downtown Pittsburgh on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood was so cold this afternoon…and windy. 

Richard and I showed up coated, panted, hatted, wrapped and scarfed head to toe and ready.  Actually, it is almost impossible to feel ready.  What I usually feel is reluctant and stage fright.  Then the joy takes over.

Father Rudolph arrived and donated a bag of more than 100 “Baby Feet.”  These are lapel pins the size of the feet of a 10 week unborn baby.  They are always a hit.  They were a hit today with the passers by.  Mothers and children, boys and girls heading home from school, and adult passers by stopping by to look at our fetal models, welcomed Father Rudolph’s offer. 

Hank from Mercy Hospital arrived.  He had planned to remain until 7pm.  He graciously agreed that this would be too long in the cold.  Hank is a regular at our 40 Days sidewalk.

Paul is a young man originally from the South Hills and recently returned from Arizona.  Paul is an artist, whose work includes murals, and was interested in why we were downtown today.

Young couples came and went… in and out… of the sharply grasping PP doors. 

There is no middle ground in the abortion conversation.  Killing the baby is always the goal.  How could there be a middle ground?

Thank you, Nikki, for your audacious, “yes!”  Thank you, all you fellow 40 Days Pittsburghers.  You are such good company.

Barbara Lewis, shift manager

Audrey and Jim managed the final two hours from 5-7pm and wrote:

A man stopped by to talk to us and tell us his story.  Doctors advised his mother to abort him because of her health condition.  He believes he’s a miracle baby.  He’s probably in his 50s or 60s and he said that the Holy Spirit is his lens he sees life through the Holy Spirit.  He was very inspirational!

Audrey sent in these photos from her shift:

Shift managers Audrey and Jim, with Fr. Rodolph and Hank
Shift managers Audrey and Jim, with Fr. Rodolph and Hank

day 1, 6th shift, audrey, hank and fr. rodolph

Tomorrow’s vigil is in need of prayer volunteers between the hours of 3-7pm!  Please sign up so that shift managers Marshall (3-5pm) and Rick (5-7pm) don’t have to stand alone!  Go to https://40daysforlife.com/local-campaigns/pittsburgh/ to sign up!  Thank you!

More reports and photos will be posted as they come in.  Stay tuned!

Now, enjoy these Kick-off Event photos from last night:

Patty "manning" the resource table
Patty “manning” the resource table
Pro life resources were available for the taking
Pro life resources were available for the taking
keeping our pro life family well equipped and educated
keeping our pro life family well equipped and educated
Aaron Greer led everyone in praise and worship with his awesome music!
Aaron Greer led everyone in praise and worship with his awesome music!

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Fr. Mark Thomas, Sr. Parochial Vicar of St. Paul Cathedral welcomed everyone and opened with a prayer
Fr. Mark Thomas, Sr. Parochial Vicar of St. Paul Cathedral welcomed everyone and opened with a prayer
Nikki talked about the 40 Days for Life, the way God is using it to save lives and convert hearts!
Nikki talked about the 40 Days for Life, the way God is using it to save lives and convert hearts!
Nikki showed everyone the photo of Carita's baby, just born on January 15th...a life saved from Planned Parenthood!
Nikki showed everyone the photo of Carita’s baby, just born on January 15th…a life saved from Planned Parenthood!
more music!
more music!
Joe Bruni was Emcee of the evening
Joe Bruni was Emcee of the evening
Pastor Bryan Werner, of Christ Church Ministries read the testimony of a woman who he met recently who changed her mind and chose life, after speaking with a sidewalk advocate before going into the clinic. Her story spoke of the need to reach out in love and not in judgment.
Pastor Bryan Werner, of Christ Church Ministries read the testimony of a woman who he met recently who changed her mind and chose life, after speaking with a sidewalk advocate before going into the clinic. Her story spoke of the need to reach out in love and not in judgment.
Fr. Ed Wichman, Pastor of St. Joseph Church and school in Verona, spoke of the importance of each and every life and gave many personal glimpses into the ways in which we can all value life.
Fr. Ed Wichman, Pastor of St. Joseph Church and school in Verona, spoke of the importance of each and every life and gave many personal glimpses into the ways in which we can all value life.
Rev. Dr. John Guest, Christ Church Grove Farm, read from the Bible the verse that led him from Atheism to give his life to the Lord when he was a lad of 15 in England. The verse was from John 10:10, "The thief comes only to kill and destroy, but I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full."
Rev. Dr. John Guest, Christ Church Grove Farm, read from the Bible the verse that led him from Atheism to give his life to the Lord when he was a lad of 15 in England. The verse was from John 10:10, “The thief comes only to kill and destroy, but I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.”

 

Dr. Guest gave a powerful sermon about the need for the church to speak out about abortion, and led us all in prayer as we sang Acapella "Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me". It was beautiful!
Dr. Guest gave a powerful sermon about the need for the church to speak out about abortion, and led us all in prayer as we sang Acapella “Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me”. It was beautiful!
Meredith Parente, a long-time pro life activist, and Sidewalk Advocate, spoke of a project that she will head involving prayer and outreach to try to get Magee Hospital to stop doing abortions. They do about 700 abortions at Magee each year, and it is truly a culture of death at that hospital.
Meredith Parente, a long-time pro life activist, and Sidewalk Advocate, spoke of a project that she will head involving prayer and outreach to try to get Magee Hospital to stop doing abortions. They do about 700 abortions at Magee each year, and it is truly a culture of death at that hospital.

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Pro Life veterans and our inspiration...Al and Sally Brunn
Pro Life veterans and our inspiration…Al and Sally Brunn
We ended with a song, led by Aaron Greer
We ended with a song, led by Aaron Greer

 

 

2 thoughts on “Day 1…Knights from St. Bernard of Clairvaux (Indiana PA), Our Lady of Victory (Carnegie) and many devoted individuals start off our Lenten witness!

  • February 10, 2016 at 10:12 pm
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    Like Meredith, I was pleasantly amazed at the number of people willing to put themselves out on a night such as Tuesday to gather with colleagues for people they will probably never meet or know–on earth. Thanks to Pastor Bryan, Fr. Wichman and Pastor Guests. Their witness was encouragement, dedication, determination and joy in the Lord for all of us. Thank you and God bless you and give you grace and strength, dear Nikki.

    Reply
    • February 13, 2016 at 7:38 pm
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      Thank you Helen…you were fighting this battle long before I ever even knew about it! Thank you for laying the groundwork and for PCUC’s support of 40 Days for Life!

      Reply

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