To everyone coming to the Vigil on Saturday 2/27, there is a Bernie Sanders rally from 10am-5pm. The bus service between Oakland and Downtown may be affected. Click HERE for a full list of detoured routes and stops affected if you take the bus to get to the vigil. Marchers will be going from the University of Pittsburgh to Market Square, however Bernie Sanders will not be present. I don’t know how many people are expected to attend or if we will see crowds on Liberty Ave. Just be aware this is going on and stay safe on the sidewalk!!
I’m participating in a program at my Church called “Consoling the Heart of Jesus” and the assigned reading this week has a chapter that is titled “Becoming Sensitive to the Suffering of Our Neighbor”….It really applies to the 40 days for Life Vigil and what we are trying to accomplish on the sidewalk!
“There is nothing more inhuman than hardheartedness, nothing more against human nature than to be without a shred of compassion. It is hellishly horrifying to encounter hardheartedness. Horror movies almost always revolve around a character whose defining trait is a complete lack of compassion.”
First the bad news….we all have some hardheartedness, at least some place in our hearts that has turned to stone. It is simply one of the sad facts of sin in our lives; it hardens our hearts. More bad news…we live in a culture that’s extremely successful at hardening people’s hearts. This is why Pope John Paul II went so far as to call it a “culture of death”. Abortion is a symptom of a more fundamental problem, namely, the hardening of so many hearts. A lot of heart hardening has to take place before before so many mothers and fathers decide to end the lives of the own unborn children. Hearts die before the babies.
The culture of death threatens to kill our hearts, to kill our ability to love, to kill our true humanity!
THE GOOD NEWS is there is HOPE! The culture of death doesn’t have to win; hearts don’t have to die. The heart-hardening process can be reversed. We don’t have to give in to the culture of death…We can be countercultural! We can and WE ARE building up the “culture of life” and the “civilization of love” by standing on the sidewalk and witnessing for LIFE….Just read the shift manager reports and see how so many people from our city are coming together because they are sensitive to the suffering of our neighbors. ~Sue
Updates from our Shift Managers:
Al and Sally were Shift Managers from 7am-9am and write:
What a windy morning! The wind went right through our layers of clothing. Signs were blowing around, and the sidewalk advocates, Marian & Kim, kept having to chase their literature as it blew away. Fortunately Fr. Sweeney and a good group, mostly men, came to pray with us from St. Bonaventure. They did not seem bothered by the wind, which was so strong that we decided to not even try for a picture.
Diane was well enough to drive down with the supplies, but could not start her car when she tried to leave.Thankfully AAA showed up in about an hour and had her on her way before our shift ended.
A lot of couples and singles entered PP, mostly ignoring offers of literature or help. People passing by seemed friendlier than they have been other mornings at this time. One man put his hands on the building, just outside the circle, and begged God to “take it down”.
I’m sure He will, but in His own time, not ours.
Sue appeared right on schedule to sub for Sheila, and we gratefully got on our bus a few minutes later.
Sue graciously filled in for another shift manager from 9am-11am!
I covered the 9-11 a.m. shift this morning in place of Sheila, who is ill. Feel better soon, Sheila! I was so happy to see so many prayer warriors there when I arrived. The group included a contingency of about 9 folks from St. Bonaventure, along with their pastor, Father John Sweeney! They had been there since 7 a.m. and by the time I was ready to leave at 11 a.m., they were just about FROZEN solid. May God bless them for their faithful witness in this bitter weather.
There were lots of folks entering the clinic this morning, including several couples. We prayed for them, and Sidewalk Advocates Kim, Kathy L., and Peggy attempted to reach out to each one, but with very little response. Sadly, none of them turned away but continued on their journey into Planned Parenthood. At one point, a delivery truck from a medical supply company pulled up. A man brought out about 4 medium-sized boxes, each of which was labeled “CLOTHS/BIBS” and took them into Planned Parenthood. I thought, how crazy that someone would bring something into an abortion clinic marked “BIBS,” whatever that really referred to in this case. Surely no live babies in there to receive a bib. Realizing the term “bib” can be applied to other cloth items than baby bibs, I assumed they were just cloths, and my mind conjured up a sad image of these cloths absorbing the blood spilled by abortions. We prayed.
As always, people were walking their dogs. Sandy M. and I discussed the irony of the sad fact that society seems, in so many cases, to value the lives and ethical treatment of animals more than it does the lives and ethical treatment of people. She made the observation that if someone were on that same sidewalk publicly performing an abortion on a dog, the cops would be called, PETA reps would fly in on a helicopter, and the person would be arrested, thrown in jail, and scorned & blackballed for life, and it would make the national news. Probably international. Yes, it is a gross and disgusting image, I know, and I apologize. But we wondered why people seem so unable to see the irony of the whole skewed mindset that seems to be growing in this country.
The most heartwarming moment of the morning occurred when a young mom came by pushing her little boy, who appeared to be about 2, in a stroller. The boy was all arms and legs, waving and shouting and greeting us, looking as though he wanted to burst out of that stroller. As she was hurrying by, she smilingly called to us, “This is his favorite part of the morning, coming by you guys!”
May God bless you all!
Nikki’s report from 11am-1pm
I arrived at 11am to see Sue’s smiling face, surrounded the colorful “shift manager scarf” that I made as gifts for all our wonderful shift managers. I love seeing them around…they are so colorful and they brighten up the gloomy sidewalk. Sue had filled in last minute for Sheila, who is sick. Thank you Sue!
Fr. Sweeney, Dave and others from St. Bonaventure were still there, after four hours…what dedication! It was an honor to get to meet them quickly before they left. The group from St. Margaret Mary showed up on time at 11. Bob, Lou and Peg. We were just getting ready to being praying when another group from Greensburg arrived. Patti, Elaine and Linda joined us for two hours of praying and witnessing.
We had a large group of prayer warriors, and I was able to join them, because of the wonderful sidewalk advocates who were ready to offer help to those walking into PP. Kathy, Peg and Pastor Bryan made sure that everyone headed for PP heard that other options and help is available. I am so grateful for Kathy and her amazing team of sidewalk advocates!
Peg and Pastor Bryan
We were also greatly blessed by the arrival of Katie, a young mother who has been a regular participant during this campaign. She brought a box of skittles with fetal development information taped to one side of each bag of candy! She passed them out to passersby. It was a joyful witness to love and life! At one point, two women with three small children exited PP. The kids were very happy to receive the treat.
We had an opportunity to minister to an older, homeless, most likely inebriated man, who stopped saying he was cold and hungry. His coat was not zipped up, so I zipped it for him. He kept using the “f” word as he was rambling on about what a mess his life was. We prayed with him and directed him to Catholic Charities, after telling him he had to watch his language. He was like a little child, in tears and saying he would try to behave himself. I offered the bagged lunch that Diane has packed in the bin, but he didn’t want it…so he left.
All in all, it was a good shift. Thanks to everyone who came!
Marie managed the Vigil from 1pm-3pm!
Marshall’s report from the 3p-5pm Vigil
It was a wonderful time of prayer and fellowship during the 3 to 5 shift today. For myself, on the drive into Pittsburgh, I learned that a fellow brother Knight, Joe T. had passed away. So I decided to dedicate the shift for his soul. Special thanks to St Bernadette and others like Natalie from St. Paul whom stopped to pray the Rosary with us after her work.
The shift was highlighted by a man, a psychologist, Allen ,whom has passed by for two years, came back after he walked by once, 9to open up with us about a rape committed against his sister Gloria. The child , Stephan, survived because Allen’s mom, involved in her Baptist church was opposed to abortion and would raise Stephan. Allen shared this story, and he blessed us all. We should keep Gloria, Stephan’s mom in our prayers as well as Stephan as there are still several deep seated issues which effect their lives all these years later. We truly do not know what is going on in the lives of the many people whom pass by us as we witness to life for the Lord. It was a blessing for all whom was there. (Personally, I thank the Holy Trinity because Allen’s candor was a confirmation for myself about a private matter)
Pat 5pm-7pm shift
I had the pleasure of praying with and getting to know Peg, Tom, and Beverly from St. Bernadette’s in Monroeville this evening for my first hour. While my second hour found me flying solo, I really felt like it was my best hour of the campaign. Solitude greatly aids our efforts to pray.
Peg Tom and Beverly from St Bernadette’s