Day 1…Dedication to Life shown by many prayer warriors today!

The cold weather didn’t keep our 40 Days for Life from starting today!  Read on to see the photos and hear the stories from today’s shift managers:

Cathy started out the first hour of this campaign at 9am this morning.  She wrote:

Started out this morning at 9, well dressed.  Fortunately, it wasn’t terribly cold or at least all my clothes kept out the chill!  With my hands in double mittens holding prayer books/papers was not an easy option.  A finger rosary inside worked well.   

People hurried by trying to get wherever they were going, some going into PP.   A man, as he walked by, shouted “Abortion is a blessing!” !!!!???  A few minutes later he came back to tell me that we have it all wrong- that there are too many people, we are destroying the planet, and how dare we think that people are more important than animals and plants!  I pointed to a sonogram picture on my sign and asked him if we should just chop up that baby and he said yes! Unfortunately he is not alone in that opinion. 

Shortly before 10 Amy came to pray til 11.  Amy is with “Life Matters”.  We did a rosary together before my bus came. 


Jeff was the shift manager from 10-11…he volunteered to come on his “day off” so that our regularly scheduled shift managers could do a shorter shift, since the weather is so cold.  Jeff wrote:

I stood 10 to 11 today and was approached by a Mark Brentley, a Pittsburgh School board member (I recognized him from the newspapers) .  He wanted to know where he could get information regarding Planned Parenthood.  I was a little perplexed until he explained that the board was considering bringing Planned Parenthood into the school curriculum.  He explained that they tried this 5 years ago and was voted down, and now they are trying again. I was going to give him Nikki’s email when Aimee Murphy from Life Matters Journal (who had signed up for the 10 o’clock hour on the website) suggested calling PCUC and googling the Planned Parenthood project.  I gave him the number for PCUC.  I turned to Aimee after he had left, thanked her for her input, and told her that nothing like that had ever happened to me on the sidewalk.  It was Aimee’s first time standing at 937 Liberty and we had just been discussing what she might expect. He said that the board was considering this in the next week or so.  I can only assume he was driving by, saw our one sign, and figured we might have some insight into PP. Day One of 40.  I can’t wait to see what He has in store for Day 2….


With the weather being a challenge during this first week of the campaign, we made the decision to shorten our 12 hour vigil in front of Planned Parenthood to just 8 hours today, and we called the churches that had adopted time slots during these first few days to “let them off the hook“.  Our wonderful team of vigil shift managers all pooled together and took extra shifts so that we could limp through these cold days by maintaining our vigil with just our shift managers…each doing just a one-hour shift.  So, imagine my surprise when I (Nikki) pulled up to the sidewalk for my brief one hour shift at 11am today…and the sidewalk was filled with prayer warriors!

These prayer warriors from Indiana County refused to take a snow-day off!
These prayer warriors from Indiana County refused to take a snow-day off!

I met a young woman named Aimee, (in the yellow hat) who had signed up to pray at the vigil as an individual, and she joined the group from St. Bernard.  We sang and we prayed.  I really enjoyed it.  As we were praying together, a random passerby stopped and prayed with us for about 10 minutes.  We are all family when we belong to Christ.  There are no strangers.  It occurred to me, as we were praying and people were walking by looking at us, that we are making a very clear statement of just WHO it is that we are putting our trust in!  It is plain for all who walk by to see…we are not looking to politicians to help us.  We have a DAD who loves us, and He just happens to be God of the universe!  So really, what do we have to worry about?  My hour went so fast, and in fact I felt guilty leaving the others behind to continue freezing!  They were determined to stick it out for their assigned 4 hour shift!

I took my first “selfie” and even figured out how to post in on Facebook.  It was actually easy…so now that I have done it myself, I encourage you to help us spread the message of 40 Days for Life when you go to the vigil, by taking a Selfie and put it on your Facebook and our 40 Days for Life Pittsburgh page.  So now I have to show you my Selfie:

Does everyone look silly in a Selfie picture, or is it just me?
Does everyone look silly in a Selfie picture, or is it just me?

There were a few Planned Parenthood clients who accepted literature from me.  The hour passed very quickly!  Before I knew it, my replacement shift manager, Cecilia was there to relieve me.  She came all the way from Butler to fill in so that we could shorten our regular shift managers shifts today.  Thank you Cil!

Cil volunteers for extra duty to help us get through the cold weather!
Cil volunteers for extra duty to help us get through the cold weather!

Cil wrote about her shift:

I was thankful to have the group from St. Bernard of Indiana (Ray, Ray, Eric, Irene) with me the whole hour!  We sang a song and prayed a litany.  I was able to get “abortion bound” literature into the hands of a young black girl leaving PP.  She said that she did not believe in abortion and had a 3 month old herself but said that she would share it with a friend who might be pregnant.  I told her we would pray for her.  A man, Matt, also needs prayers.  He says he is an alcoholic and homeless.  He had a rough life.  His Mom was an addict when he was 15 so he was removed from her and stayed with an Aunt for a while.  He has two children.  He was inquiring about our position on abortion trying to understand more.  So I gave him the “And Justice for All” newspaper I had since he said he liked to read.  Ray was able to share some words of “wisdom” with him that made him ponder.  The older Ray has been involved with pro-life since the time of the “confrontational” rescue movement.  He appreciates the peaceful, prayer approach of the 40 Days for Life.  This was Eric’s first time at the vigil.  I enjoyed hearing his “conversion” story.

Cil wrote some good advice to the other shift managers, which I will share with you here…especially since tomorrow is supposed to be very brutally cold!

Hi All! Well I just finished my 12-1 shift today and managed to stay warm enough.  I probably could have stayed longer.  It was snowing the whole time but I believe it is warmer and not as windy as it will be the next couple days.  I wanted to let you know how I dressed in case you are trying to figure out how many layers you might need…. I had on three layers under my coat (tops and bottoms).  I had two socks under my insulated boots.  One pair was thick, tall wool socks.  And I put toe warmers on those socks before putting my boots on.  Even so, my toes started to get cold near the end.  I had thin gloves under heavy mittens and hand warmers in between.  I had a hat on under the hood of my coat and had two scarves (one under my coat and one wrapped around my face to keep it warm). I hope that helps!  You guys will likely need to dress warmer the next couple days.  I will keep you all in prayer…  Thanks for your witness in this weather!  You all inspire me! Your friend… For Life, Cil

First-time shift manager, Chris, did the hour after Cil, and he wrote:

It was a snowy; cold afternoon shift in front of Planned Parenthood.  I was joined by a fellow St. John Neumann parishioner, Iris, for our 90-minute prayer vigil. 

Chris and Iris from St. John Neumann in Franklin Park
Chris and Iris from St. John Neumann in Franklin Park

  Four wonderful prayer warriors from Indiana stayed with us for their 2nd hour, braving the cold and saying the Rosary with us.  Several couples were observed entering and leaving Planned Parenthood while we were there. One of the thoughts I had while praying today was that just as each individual snowflake (yes, they were falling) is unique, so is every human being.  And that human being is unique from the moment of conception.  And God created us and the snowy world we live in.

Marie P. was the shift manager from 2-3pm and Barbara took over for her from 3-4pm.  Barbara took this photo:

Seamus, Marie and Chris bring the warmth of Christ to the cold sidewalk this afternoon!
Seamus, Marie and Chris bring the warmth of Christ to the cold sidewalk this afternoon!


Barbara wrote:

” The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and saves them.”
Reverend Guest quoted from Psalm 34 last evening at the Kick Off.  I remembered his saying this when the abortion doctor left PP and walked past me.  What could I do to loosen the grip of darkness encamped around him?  “God bless you today, doctor,” I said.  God is pursuing him in love.  Today, I got a chance to do that too.
Barbara Lewis
Shift manager, 3-4


First-time shift manager Audrey closed out the vigil today from 4-5pm.  She wrote:

Well, Seamus and I did it!  WHEW!  We completed the 4 to 5 p.m. shift on Ash Wednesday – the first day of our 40 Days for Life.  It was brutally cold, but we prayed, talked, and smiled at the people walking by.  We had on many, many layers of clothing.  Seamus was a mail carrier, so he was used to being outside in the bitter cold.  God bless us as we continue our journey to end abortion.


Seamus and Audrey
Seamus and Audrey


Please be aware that tomorrow the vigil will likely consist of one lonely shift manager for each hour from 9am-5pm.  The temperature will be absolutely BRUTAL!  We are not bringing the materials to the sidewalk so that the shift managers will be free to leave the site to get warm when they need to.  So….feel free to come by and keep them company, even if it is only for 15 minutes…just to say a prayer with them.  Maybe even bring them a hot coffee or something.  If you stop by and there is no one there, that probably means they are warming up in the Welcome Center of Catholic Charities.

Thanks for showing the people on Liberty Avenue WHO IT IS that WE are putting OUR trust in!

God bless you!