Day 15…Guardians for Life, Sacred Heart (Shadyside) & St. Scholastica (Aspinwall)

***Prayer volunteers needed tomorrow (Thursday) from 9-11am AND 1-3pm!  Shift Manager Ginny will be alone from 9-11 and Shift Manager Lisa will alone from 1-3 if no one comes!  Please help if you can!!!

Also…please note that due to Diane being ill, there will be no delivery of vigil materials to the sidewalk tomorrow.  There will be signs and literature (Pat will drop them off in the morning)…but we won’t have the usual “set-up”.

I am still thinking about suffering.  This is what I wrote about last Wednesday in my blog, but it is still on my mind.  Especially when I read today’s reading from Matthew 20:17-28.  Jesus asks James and John if they are able to drink from the chalice that He is about to drink.  It is unclear as to whether or not they really comprehended the full meaning of that question when they answered, “We can.”  But their willingness and eagerness to follow Christ…to be with Him wherever He was going…must have touched Jesus’ heart.  I can just imagine the tenderness (and maybe the sadness) in His eyes as he looked at them and said, “My chalice you will indeed drink…”

We don’t always know what awaits us as we prepare to witness at the vigil.  Fear, anxiety and nervousness are common emotions for first-time vigil attendees.  In fact, I think I will link my “How to Pray at an Abortion Clinic for the First Time” for anyone who would like to read my personal account of how I overcame my extreme fear of going to pray at Planned Parenthood for the first time.  CLICK HERE to read.

But I think that even if we are fearful and unsure about what awaits us…whenever we WILLINGLY offer ourselves to do what we know God is asking us to do…it brings about a tenderness in His heart for us.  He loves us so much, whether we suffer for Him or not…but suffering for Him willingly really touches His heart in a special way, I believe.

So come on out to the sidewalk!  Bring the Holy Spirit with you!  You won’t be alone…in fact, you may just get to pray with some of the most wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ that you’ll ever meet!


Sue D. was the early morning shift manager from 7-9 and wrote:

It was a rainy shift! I had an umbrella and most passersby did as well, so it was a little difficult to reach out to people. It was good to spend the first hour quietly in prayer with the music playing. The director of pp arrived early, ~7:15, so I said a Divine Mercy for her conversion…Peggy arrived at 8am and took up on the other side of the circle with an umbrella, sign around her neck and a handful of the pink resource to give out!

Peg has faithfully prayed the early morning hours for many mornings each week!
Peg has faithfully prayed the early morning hours for many mornings each week!

Activity started to pick up with workers and clients going in. Some were standing right inside the glass doors and I saw them glancing back towards the baby models, so maybe it was a last impression before their appointments,  neither couple accepted the offer we extended for free pregnancy test/ultrasound. I gave some info to a young, vibrant girl who goes there monthly for std testing…she was so friendly and cute, I hope she reads the birth control  pamphlet and pink resource! Peggy and I tried to engage as many people as possible. It was nice when the rain stopped about 8:45 and we could put aside our umbrellas!! Thanks, Sue

Cathy was the vigil manager from 9-11am.  She wrote:

When I arrived Peggy was standing vigil, and throughout the 2 hours Katie (and for a short time her 2 1/2 yo son Nick – til Grandma came), Darryl, and Elsie came to pray and/or handout literature.  At least one, maybe two couples went in, and some individuals.  I was able to give the pink resource flyer to two young men who came out, presumably halves of two of the several couples who had gone in before I arrived, but they did not want to talk.  Elsie was also able to pass out some literature to some people.

I (Nikki) arrived for my 11-1 shift to find Cathy and many other prayer warriors at the vigil.

Recent vigil attendee (and our first Jewish participant!) Cecily, with shift manager Cathy. Welcome Cecily!!!
Recent vigil attendee (and our first Jewish participant!) Cecily, with shift manager Cathy. Welcome Cecily!!!

Fr. Tim’s Guardians for Life and the Knights of Columbus were already setting up for their 2-hour prayer vigil on the sidewalk.  It is always an honor to be there when they are there.  The constant singing, praying and kneeling make the sidewalk an almost sacred space.  Thank  you Fr. Tim and all those who came today for your inspiring dedication to life!

day 15, 3rd shift, guardians
What a witness the Guardians for Life make!


Knights of Columbus held their banner along Liberty Avenue
Knights of Columbus held their banner along Liberty Avenue

So much happened during my shift, I almost don’t know where to start.  Let’s see, when I first arrived at 11am I was very blessed to get to meet and talk with Cecily.  She has recently began to attend our vigil, and has a very gentle, calm and sweet nature.  She is a blessing!  I also got the honor of meeting Terri, a woman who began participating in 40 Days for Life last year, and has recently taken the Sidewalk Advocates for Life training, offered by Kathy Laslow.  I had the absolute joy of watching her in action.  What amazing love and warmth she is able to exude! At one point, I saw her talking to a young man whose girlfriend was inside PP.  He was trying to act tough at first, but I could see that her friendliness and warmth were getting the best of him.  At one point, I saw her actually give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek!  Now, I don’t recommend that everyone start doing that…unless permission is given from the person…but it was truly beautiful to watch the exchange between Terri and the young man.

New sidewalk advocate, Terri
New sidewalk advocate, Terri

Since there were so many people on the sidewalk today, and it was an abortion day, I decided to stand up at the corner to be able to offer information to abortion-bound couples and talk with them as they walked to PP.  There were quite a few couples, unfortunately.  I gave out many brochures and tried to get them to stop to talk, but had no luck.  The problem happened when an employee of the bookstore came out to ask me to please not walk back and forth in front of his store.  I explained as nicely as I could, that I needed to walk back and forth when I was talking to couples walking to PP.  We weren’t able to reach an agreement, and he ended up calling the police.  The police were very cordial and they said that I am allowed to walk back and forth on the sidewalk, but anything we could do to try to appease the bookstore owner would be good.  So, I offered to encourage our 40 Days for Life vigil participants to patronize the bookstore.  I actually went in after my shift and bought 3 books, (C. S. Lewis’ “A Grief Observed”, and St. Augustine’s “City of God”, vol. 1 & 2).  (He has a Christian book section near the door).

I wonder if anyone has books to donate, if they would be willing to bring them into the bookstore?  So I ask that we be as courteous as possible…try to stay as far from the front of his store as possible, and if possible, patronize his business.  The owner is a very kind young man. He has six small children and is trying his best to make a living…and he worries that our presence in front of his store is driving away business.  Thanks for your help in this matter!

The most upsetting thing about the whole shift happened after my shift was over!  Kathy L. had shown up to relieve me at 1pm, and also others who “answered the plea” to come and stand with her.  I was getting ready to leave, when Terri (who had to go) motioned for me to come over to talk to a tearful young man who was standing inside the doorway next to the bar.  He was trying to keep himself composed and to be strong, but the tears were flowing from his eyes.  He said that his girlfriend was planning to abort his child, and he couldn’t stop her.  He was tormented with guilt, thinking it was his fault because he recently lost his job…they have no food and will not be able to pay their bills without a job.  He said he lives in Coraopolis, and has put applications in everywhere he could…he will work anywhere.  I tried to console him and offered to walk with him up to Catholic Charities.  He spoke with a counselor there.  I have his number, and he has mine, so I will try to see how I can help him.  I wrote a letter for him to give to his girlfriend, telling her we could help them.  Please pray for “J”, his girlfriend, “M” and their baby.

What an emotionally draining day!  No wonder we base these efforts on God and God alone!  We could NEVER do this work without HIM!

1-3 shift manager Kathy, with two others (including off-duty shift manager Sue, who came to be with her during her shift, since no one had signed up. Joan also came, but left before I took the picture.)
1-3 shift manager Kathy, with two others (including off-duty shift manager Sue, who came to be with her during her shift, since no one had signed up. Joan also came, but left before I took the picture.)

Kathy’s shift from 1-3.  She wrote:

Kathy, Ginny and Francesca
Kathy, Ginny and Francesca

God provided, through Nikki’s plea, several pray-ers and Sidewalk Advocates to accompany me during my 1-3 p.m. shift.  During this time, Sidewalk Advocate Marian and vigiler Joan talked at length with two young female passersby.  One of the women shared with Joan that she had had abortions in the past.  She accepted Joan’s literature re Rachel’s Vineyard and the Free Local Resources sheet.   A young man named Jason was looking at our signs when I asked if he needed any help.  He said “yes” and then shared with Nikki that his girlfriend was planning to abort their child.  He was very sad and accepted Nikki’s offer to take him to Catholic Charities where he received information about pregnancy services.  Please pray for Jason and his girlfriend “M.”

A couple exiting PP shared with Marian that they are keeping their baby because they are having twins.  The woman showed me the ultrasound picture and told me PP asked her if she wanted to see the screen during the ultrasound!  Two lives were spared today because of the “twin diagnosis” but I’m still troubled because one life may have been ended had the “diagnosis” been different.  Have mercy on us O Lord.

Barbara & Richard’s shift from 3-5  Barbara took these photos:

Shift manager Kathy, with Bill and Fr. Steve Palsa from Sacred Heart parish
Shift manager Kathy, with Bill and Fr. Steve Palsa from Sacred Heart parish
Mary Katherine from St. Scholastica and Hank
Mary Katherine and crew from St. Scholastica , Shift manager Jim and Wednesday evening “regular”, Hank

She wrote:

“Then the angel showed me the river of life giving water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of its street.  On either side of the river grew the tree of life that produces fruit twelve times a year, one each month; the leaves of the trees serve as medicine for the nations.  Nothing accursed will be found there anymore.”  Revelation 22:1-3

As we stood in the pouring rain, I loved thinking about this verse.  Actually, I went home and googled a verse that would go with the beauty of the downtown rain.  This is it!  Does this not sound like the perfect answer to our prayers and fasting for 40 Days for Life?  God who knows how to answer the prayers of His children will not give us a stone.

Father Steve led the Sacred Heart parishioners in prayer and his voice conquered the din from the rain and commuter traffic.  We heard his voice, just barely, and were able to raise our hearts together.

A beautiful young jogger ran by looking happy in the downpour.  We were bundled and umbrella-ed and not so young, but we were happy to be there too, witnessing for the little ones whose beauty might never get the chance to bloom.

Barbara Lewis

Shift Manager

Audrey & Jim’s shift from 5-7


Check back later for more stories and photos….

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