Day 15…St. Juan Diego, St. Bernadette and many dedicated individuals brave the bitter cold today!

“But it shall not be so among you.” Matt. 20:26

 Selfish ambition.  It’s the way of the world, right?  Dog-eat-dog…looking out for number one…using others to get ahead.  Isn’t that how the world works?


As I reflected on the Gospel reading from Matthew 20:17-28 this morning, I thought about how disappointed Jesus must have felt as he watched his own followers arguing about who was going to be the greatest.  I wonder if this is when he came up with the idea of washing their feet at the last supper?  We humans are a little dense, are we not?  We constantly need to be reminded by Jesus’ example.  We are prone to pride, jealousy, anger and selfishness.  I must confess that I reacted badly last Thursday to a passerby.  When a woman walked up to me with a smile on her face and said, “Thank you for being here!  Because you are here, I will be donating $7.00 to Planned Parenthood today!”  My humble, Christ-like response?  “Good!  They are going to need it!”

I was convicted when I read Pat’s blog from last Saturday.  He wrote the following:

Bite your tongue – No way to sum it up any better.  Most of the negativity we receive as we stand vigil (at least 80%) comes in the form of, what I call, “drive-by” comments.  These are people who, as they walk past, say something derogatory, but keep on going.  Fine.  Let them go.  Resist the urge to offer a retort.  To absorb the blow with grace gives evidence of your gentleness.  But saying something in response simply is to invite a confrontation.

But I say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father. Mt 5:44-45

The way of the world is not what Jesus wants for us.  He wants us to be different.  Set apart…like a light on a hill.  It can be challenging for sure!  We will definitely fail sometimes.  But that is okay, He loves us and knows our weakness.  He is there to help us get back up and try again.

I am so inspired by the sacrifice of so many individuals during this bitter cold weather!  I’ll bet Jesus is cheering us on…and is pleased with our efforts.

Read on for today’s shift reports…

Sue D. had the early 7-9am shift and wrote:

Peg shares the bitter cold 7-9am shift with Sue
Peg shares the bitter cold 7-9am shift with Sue

Today we saw another day of “blizzard-like” conditions, you can see the snow in front of PP in the picture of Peggy. It was a quiet morning downtown, school must have been delayed or cancelled because no students passed us and there were very few cars. Peggy and I were both prepared in our purple coats with multiple layers of clothing and  I also had my “man-hands”…(My husband’s  gloves paired with a snug glove liner).

Fashion on the sidewalk!
Fashion statement on the sidewalk!

It is the only thing that works to keep my hands warm, toes are another story! We got down to business praying the rosary and divine mercy. Mostly workers entered the building. We didn’t have a lot of interaction with passersby because most everyone was pretty bundled up! A little before 8am we did get a trifecta of negative comments…boom, boom, boom, 3 hostile people right in a row! The last person got in our faces and confronted us about the Healthcare Law. That last confrontation helped us focus on what our mission is here. It is not about anything else but standing peacefully and prayerfully in front of PP and hoping to turn hearts and minds to a culture of LIFE! Sidewalk advocates Jim and Katie came and the 4 of us stood for the remainder of the shift.

Cathy Z. had the 9-11am shift and wrote:

It was a quiet two hours with hardly anyone going into the clinic except workers and delivery people.  No one stopped for conversation – probably it was too cold!  S.A.s Elsie and Katie were there, as was Mary from my parish to pray.  Katie’s dad brought a heater!

Mary from St. Juan Diego parish, with SA Katie
Mary from St. Juan Diego parish, with SA Katie

Cecilia wrote about her 11am-1pm shift:

Praise God for keeping us safe for the drive in today.  The roads were not the best.  But the company was… Thanks again to my good friend, Joyce!

Joyce and Cil
Joyce and Cil

I was glad to see familiar faces from St Bernadette for my shift.  It was a very pleasant and prayerful time on the sidewalk with them.  Sue led us in the devotional for the day. 

Dee, Sue and Jerry from St. Bernadette
Dee, Sue and Jerry from St. Bernadette
Dave from St. Bernadette
Dave from St. Bernadette

It was nice to meet Karen from Christ’s Church.  And Joyce kindly brought and handed out crackers, granola bars… to those who passed by. 

Karen from Christ Church Ministries
Karen from Christ Church Ministries

One time after Joyce crossed through the circle, the security guard opened the door and motioned that she should walk around the semi-circle.  I tried to tell him that it was OK for us to walk through as long as we don’t talk with anyone inside the area.  But he couldn’t hear me so he came over to me and kindly listened as I explained about the court case that said we could pass through to go to the other side.  He nodded in understanding and went back inside.  It was a very pleasant encounter.  Later he came out to shovel the snow.  I told him thanks.  He said he wanted to keep people from falling.  Anyhow, I do think if the weather is nice, we could walk around the circle and we do need to refrain from “parading” back and forth.  But today the road was mucky and we were just crossing to get to the other side as we took turns warming by the heater.

Not too many came and went from PP.  Thankfully!  But one memorable girl came out and passed us by.  She was visibly very pregnant but did not accept resources from us.  I wondered what “service” was offered to her?…

I hardly recall any negative comments…many positive.  And I was able to give away all my 40 Days inserts that I brought along with some pregnancy resource cards.

Just when our toes had had enough, Chris arrived!  Again I believe he brought the sun with him!  I hope it helped to get the rest of our warriors through the cold and windy day. 

Chris managed the vigil from 1-3pm…

God Bless whoever brought the propane gas tank and integrated heat lamps!  What a difference it made for the few prayer warriors during my shift.  Traffic in and out of PP was very light today and I think the bitter cold weather discouraged passersby from making comments, positive or negative.  I was joined for the first 45 minutes by Dee and Dave, holdovers from the 11am shift.  It was great to see them!  While I was alone the rest of the time, it was fine, as I used the time to pray the Rosary and think in the quiet.  One of the thoughts I had on such a cold and windy day (several times the fetal models blew off their stand) was that we are there witnessing in front of PP to warm the hearts and consciences of those who enter their doors, with love and compassion.  Barbara and Richard, such a joy to see, relieved me for the 3:00pm shift.  

Barbara wrote about her 3-5pm shift:

Today was so cold.  The wind was relentless.

After the fetal model set went flying, Richard and I hunkered down and packed everything. My sign around my neck kept hammering me and I fought to restrain it.

Winds persisted. They threw our little fetal models up and then down. I had to take this pic. It felt poignant and true.
Winds persisted. They threw our little fetal models up and then down.
I had to take this pic. It felt poignant and true.

Although we battled the weather, passersby blessed us.  So many people gave us high signs and thumbs up.  We heard “God bless you” at least three times. 

I felt so grateful that we had only two hours in the cold and had a warm car and home and dinner to look forward to.  I was reminded about how comfortable my life is.

Here is a “shout out” to our steady comrade who showed up to stand with us every Wednesday last fall. “Get better, Hank. Be patient!  God bless you and your wonderful Judy and children.”

When Joe showed up for the next shift, smiling and sturdy, I was tempted to offer him $1000.  He smiled, waved us good-by and we left.

Joe and Fran finished out the final two hours tonight…

The shift started before the shift with thoughts of how to deal with the C.O.L.D. / wind with gusts up to 35 mph according to the “highly accurate” weather report 🙂

Though I was consumed of thoughts of physical warmth, the evening would fittingly be dominated by spiritual warmth, of course.

First, the usual warm greeting from 3:00 – 5:00 Shift Manager, Barbara.  She had made sure that nothing would fly away today – Thanks! 

I was then joined in short order by Fran from St. Joseph’s (Verona) who individually volunteered to stand with me so that I would not be alone.  I cannot express how much this meant…  I mean, I had to be there, but she volunteered to be there -on a nasty cold evening, in part, to make sure that at least 2 or 3 were gathered…  Thanks Fran!!!

As I stood in the doorway next to the bar, the sun played peek-a-boo on Liberty Ave.  I couldn’t help but think about that sun / sunshine and all that God has created…A women stopped her car in front of me and asked me if I was homeless  and needed some money – a wonderfully kind gesture that I may need to take her up on if I don’t get crack’n on my home improvement projects… 

Not even the coldness could numb the “negative” feelings expressed by few passerby’s…  a spit and the “old familiar gesture”…

I could not ignore the irony of a person exiting PP and entering a car with a “Bern” bumper sticker… 

I got to talk with / help a homeless gentleman, “L” – please pray for him. We prayed together.  I was able to give him some hand warmers and he tried on the coat from the bin, but it was a bit too small…

The shift ended quietly – numb physically, but spiritually much warmer than when it started…


In closing, I have to say that I am deeply humbled by the commitment shown by those who sacrificed on the sidewalk today.  I do not feel worthy to be leading such a wonderful group of people.  I wonder if I should have cancelled the vigil today?  I don’t want to ask too much of all of our 40 Days for Life family, and have people get discouraged and give up.  It is amazing to me that so many of our shift managers and individual participants have persevered all these years, through so many campaigns!  I don’t want to blow it now!  Let me know your comments…should we have a temperature limit in the future?

Thank you and may God bless you!


3 thoughts on “Day 15…St. Juan Diego, St. Bernadette and many dedicated individuals brave the bitter cold today!

  • March 16, 2017 at 7:41 am

    Gentleness and All In! are two phrases for this campaign. The weather has not been gentle (but I remember worse) and I will continue to be All In! Cold can be stressful on the body but so can hanging on a Cross and being ripped out of the womb. We live lives of comfort and have been asked by God ( The Trinity) to commit to life- convenient or inconvenient, hot, cold or just right. Lukewarm doesn’t do it for Jesus. ALL IN!! And Jesus’ gentleness- read Scripture to see what gentleness (aka Kindness) means!!
    Thanks to all who contribute and complain about the weather—- our humanness is showing… the concept of human – PP doesn’t understand.
    Stand up for life- in any kind of weather. Jesus and the Holy Innocents will say “Well done.” PP will have to deal with their leader another way. Coming to the vigil is a personal choice. If you choose not to come because of the weather- that is also a choice.

  • March 16, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Nikki. I would be in favor of limiting the vigil due to very low life threatening temperatures. Maybe have a limited vigil where people can come and stay just as long as they are able rather than a longer time that they signed up for. As Marian said above it has to be an individual option. I know there are many who think we are not to be intimidated by the cold. I for one am a wimp, but realistically. I think the nature of our location dictates some limitations on people coming anyway. I also think 40 days is the best effort the prolife community is making so know that I am totally committed to being part of it, and I am not trying to discourage anyone from doing what God calls them to. But at the same time, God gave us common sense. ( I also will refer to Jesus’s 2nd temptation in the desert ). (I also refer to the fact that on Tuesday, I went down to Cath Char, and it was closed due to “inclement weather”.). So those are my thoughts for what it is worth. Nancy G

  • March 16, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Thank you, Katie’s Dad, for the heater!


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