THE PINK SHIRTS ARE COMING! THE PINK SHIRTS ARE COMING!
On Thursday my bus dropped me off at the park-n-ride over two hours later than I had planned. In what I guess was an effort to shake-off the frustration of the day, I decided to steer my car in a slightly different route home. As I drove through the neighborhood of Alpine Village, I saw a man in a pink T-shirt walking the other way. Knowing that men rarely make this fashion choice, I suspected that something was up. I couldn’t catch what his shirt said as I passed him, but I thought I saw the words “Planned Parenthood” on it. That was all it took for common sense to go out the window. Instead of continuing on my way, I stopped the car, put it in reverse, and backed up to get a second look at that shirt. (Not sure if I actually checked my rear view mirror before doing so.) Sure enough, it said:
And so, with the aforementioned common sense still abandoned by the side of the road, I put my window down and decided to engage him in conversation. I started by saying that I had noticed his T-shirt and was wondering if he was worked for PP. He said that he was, but only indirectly. He explained that he was canvasing the neighborhood asking people how they planned to vote in November. I asked him, in an even-toned manner, why he would work for an organization that was in the business of killing people. He surprised me by not defending abortion, but by saying that it was only 3% of their services, and then asserting that PP does a lot of good things besides abortion. I made sure to patiently listen to him as he started to list them. And then, I listened some more as he compared PP to the sun. (Yup, that was a first for me too). He explained that while the sun causes cancer, it also makes plants grow, gives us warmth, provides solar energy, etc.
Finally, I responded. I told him that by his own reasoning, we really couldn’t condemn Hitler either. After all, while he may have killed millions of Jews in the Holocaust, he also built Germany up from the ashes of WWI into a strong and prosperous nation. (Note to reader: When I expressed this during the actual conversation, it didn’t come out quite as clearly and succinctly as you see above.) Back and forth the conversation went, all the while in a civil manner from both ends. As it did, I figured that it would be better for me to try to drive home just one point instead of a hundred. That point was this: If an organization was committing only one murder a year, let alone the over 300,000 PP commits, why would anyone want to work for them?
At some point in the conversation I decided that I needed to thank him for patiently listening to my views way he did. He really was a thoughtful and reflective type of guy. He told me that he really liked engaging discussions where he could hear other people’s views on things. I then told him that my name was Pat. His was Walter. Seeing that we had been talking to each other from across the road, he asked me if it would be OK if he came closer to the car. I said, “Sure.” He told me about how many houses he has to canvas each day and the places he has been. Being black, he said that it was clear that he wasn’t nearly as welcome in some of those places. He ate a granola bar as we spoke and admitted that he really hadn’t dressed warmly enough that day. I offered him a granola bar that I had in my car for him to have later and he graciously accepted. This led to another few minutes of discussing, of all things, his mother’s peanut allergy. As we parted we shook hands. I was grateful for the encounter and got the clear sense that he was too.
As I finished my drive home I thought about the things I had said (and didn’t say). I had some regrets, but overall, I was glad that I had decided to engage Walter…and that God had given me the grace to do so in the manner I had. I felt that I might have planted some seeds.
If these people employed by PP haven’t already been to your neighborhood, expect to see one soon. So be prepared, both with what you want to say and how you want to say it. The pink shirt they will be wearing will probably offend you. But the person inside of it might be receptive to gentle reasoning and patient listening.
WE THANK THE FOLLOWING CHURCHES THAT SIGNED-UP FOR SATURDAY:
Holy Family Catholic Church (Steubenville), St. Sebastian Catholic Church (Ross Twp.), St. John (Baden), Good Samaritan (Ambridge)
AND NOW, ON TO OUR REPORTS…
Prayer Warriors traveled far this morning to be at the vigil pre-dawn, coming from Steubenville, Latrobe, and Indiana. Song and prayer rang out and echoed on Liberty Avenue. Fr. Tim lead in song and prayer in front of pp while prayer warriors from the Oratory prayed a little down the street and others lined the other side of the arc around the entrance. Sidewalk Advocates were positioned on both sides and across the street as well. Sadly it was a busy morning with many going into the clinic. But the dawn was breaking and hope was abundant confident that God hears our prayers.
Tim B., 7-9
Except for the few times that PP has closed on Saturday, the morning shift in front of PP is always busy with customers. The escorts are out until 10:00 waiting to escort their clients through the doors. Prayerful witness and reaching out is important. As is written in the Bible, no book can contain all the things that Jesus did while on Earth. He was dealing with people…. so no wonder. A lot happens on the street – too much to report.
To emphasize, Saturday morning is abortion day at PP. Therefore, the presence of the Sidewalk Advocates and those reaching out with practical help is imperative. Terri, Joe, David and Sue were the Sidewalk Advocates this morning. Those of us who are Sidewalk Advocates hug each other offering each other signs of support.
Matt, who came from Living Hope in Latrobe (not his first time), is very good at reaching out. He even had someone yell at him… he touched a nerve in a good way. Our presence on the sidewalk does that.
Libby, from St. Sebastian, shared with me that when she was in training to become a nurse she was assigned to the obstetrics department. Some doctors performed abortions. As a student nurse, Libby learned the value of life. She helped identify aborted babies as male or female. Hospitals issue death certificates for aborted babies. Loving the OB, but not wanting to participate in abortions, Libby changed her specialty to psychiatric nursing. Now Libby sometimes encounters post-abortive women who need psychological help. In hospitals. At that hospital, many years ago but after Roe v Wade, babies aborted had death certificates for the record – proof of life.
Another nurse visiting from California spoke with the escorts and us. She is pro-life. Matt, Lucy and I spoke at length. Lucy mentioned her niece who is messed up from an abortion. An intervention is being sought to help her. Lucy was adamant about the dangers of IUD’s in women.
One woman did walk out of PP and did tell me she changed her mind. Still upset walking out of PP, the escorts (now off duty) paid no attention to her nor tried to stop me from reaching out to her. The young women was visibly upset but took no information. PP considers us dangerous protestors, but only to the customers as they walk in the door. One young woman did say she was going in for an abortion today. She took a card and walked with me but would not stop to talk with Terri. The young woman ignored three voices of reason before entering the door.
(Sue probably has much to write…. If she did not write about Michael… post abortive… decision made at the age of 17… has repented and knows he is forgiven by God but still regrets the decision. Three of us prayed with him and he took resource cards. Sue reached out, he reached back.)
Marian C., 9-11
The weather had become beautiful after a chilly morning, and it was a comfort to pray today with many folks from my home parish, St. Sebastian. Katie stopped by with little Nick, who joined us in passing out literature to passersby in his very sweet and polite way. Bill H. came by as well. We rejoiced at the news of the mom who changed her mind and decided to keep her baby during Marian’s shift!!! Marian was still there with us during most of the 11-1 shift, and I was there during her whole shift as well, so I am finding it hard to remember what happened during which shift – thank you, Marian, for covering the “main stories” !! I did have a nice surprise visit from a young man named James who visited us during his morning run and out of the blue told me he is interested in attending training to become a Sidewalk Advocate. Matt also expressed interest. The Sidewalk Advocates for Life will be holding a local training session soon for those interested – please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in attending!
Sue M., 11-1
Quiet afternoon. There didn’t seem to be much traffic exiting PP. Most folks were receptive to our yellow cards.
Sorry for no pics, but the group St. Sebastian who stood with me already had their picture taken by Sue M.
Dean D., 1-3
What a lovely afternoon to spend in prayer with members of the body of Christ. Adam (from Monroeville) and I were joined shortly after three by Marcella, Barb & Jan from St. John’s and Good Samaritan who promptly engaged in a scriptural rosary for the unborn. The streets were busy with Penguins fans and families and folks out on the beautiful afternoon. Later Lenisa from St. Thomas More entered our “prayer piazza” as did Dan from St. Maurice whose beautiful voice was especially impactful as we prayed the stations of the cross. We squeezed in the Divine Mercy Chaplet in the hour of mercy, too. As the sun moved lower, Beverly and Barb from Good Samaritan & St. John the Baptist continued in praying the very special devotions included in the materials to pray in front of an abortion clinic. There were moments when we choked up at the enormity of this loss of life. May God bless each of my fellow prayer warriors in a very very special way, and reward their faithfulness with joy in their lives.
Jeannie French, 3-5
Last picture from Joe W., 5-7