Day 1…Thank you Dedicated Team members and Volunteers!

We are blessed in Pittsburgh!

CLICK HERE to view new photos from last night’s event taken by Emily Teodorski!

And here are some more beautiful photos from the procession and prayer on the sidewalk, taken by Larry Squires, CLICK HERE to view!

I was so inspired last night to see the faith of so many people, priests included, who took part in our kick-off Mass and Eucharistic Procession to Planned Parenthood! I kept catching glimpses of different people’s faces, and I saw the fervor of their prayers and the intensity of their faith. They are looking to the Lord to deliver us from the evil of abortion, and they are willing to sacrifice their time and comfort in order for God to work His miracles through them.

For instance, during our overnight men’s vigil in front of Planned Parenthood last night, from 1am-5am it was a bit shaky in downtown Pittsburgh. There were only two men per hour, which really was not enough for safety. At about 2:30am there was an incident that made it necessary for them to leave the vigil site temporarily and shelter inside of the motorhome that we provided.

Our own Joe K. and Joe W. had the 3-5am shift. Joe K. has to come back tonight to do the 5-7pm shift as well, but he selflessly volunteered to do the overnight shift also. I offered to end the vigil tonight at 5pm so he could go home and get some sleep, but he refused and insisted on keeping the vigil going until 7pm. This sort of faith and selflessness inspires me to keep going in this spiritual battle.

Taken at 11pm last night, faithful Santiago and Chris leaving their prayer posts as the 11pm-1am shift arrives

If any more photos come in from the overnight vigil, I will post them here, but I want to include an email that the men’s vigil coordinator sent out this morning to all who gave up sleep last night to pray at the vigil site:

Wow! I can’t put into words how Nikki, Santos and I feel about what you accomplished last night.  Maybe sacrifice best describes your effort.  The pictures I viewed touched me deep down in my heart.  I could see the humbleness and the sincerity with which you stood at the vigil.  I am very certain that your prayerful actions touched our Father’s heart too.     I don’t know when the Lord is going to conclude this war but I am sure your actions have played a part in it.  As for the next battle … I don’t know what it will be like but I do know of 15 men it would be our privilege to fight it with. We are truly proud of you, sincerely grateful to you and deeply inspired by you.    Nikki,  Santos and  Dave

I only had a couple hours sleep myself, so my reflection is probably rambling…but I just want to write about the CONTRAST that I noticed last night. As our faithful brothers and sister in Christ were entering the church last night, there was a heavy metal concert beginning right next door at the PPG Arena. Christians were filing into Epiphany Church, while crowds of young music fans were filing into the PPG arena. The contrast in the two groups were very noticeable. Then, later, as Joe and I were setting up our motorhome in front of PP for the overnight vigil, I was watching the two men who had the 9-11pm shift as they prayed non-stop in front of PP. Two humble, lonely, vulnerable men…holding their rosaries, surrounded by a few candles and “Pray to End Abortion” signs, while the late-night sidewalk bustled with rough looking men and women going in and out of the bars and theaters. What a contrast!

When I realized that I had forgotten to pack the coffee, I made a trip to the 7-11 just two blocks away on Liberty. When I entered that place at 10:30pm, the old Guns and Roses song, “Welcome to the Jungle” came into my mind. All I can say about that experience is, “God bless the clerks in that store!” I don’t know how they do it! The store was filled with drug induced…or mental illness induced…crazy-eyed people. There was a cloth hospital gown laying crumpled up on the floor, next to a pile of human feces…I am assuming from the same person. A woman had stepped in the poop and made a comment, which was how I noticed it. I paid for my coffee and got out of there as quickly as I could, made my way through the crowd of men outside asking for money…gave them some granola bars…and headed back to the motorhome to put the coffee on. Again, I looked at the two humble men, Santiago and Chris…still praying their rosaries non-stop.

I am also thinking about our beloved Fr. Jason Charron, who risked his life driving into the war zone in Ukraine this past week to rescue 22 orphans. Thanks be to God he is safe now! But, what a contrast! He and his friend were willing to take a chance of dying themselves in order to save these orphans…and we stand in front of an abortion clinic where 3,000 babies die every year so that their parents can live as they wish. (Speaking of Fr. Jason, there was an amazing story about his rescue operation on WPXI yesterday.) CLICK HERE to watch the video!

I am very grateful to be on the same side as Fr. Jason, Bishop Waltersheid, Fr. Chris Donley, Santiago and Chris, Joe K and Joe W….and all the faithful priests and individuals who were at the kick-off last night! We are on the good side! We are blessed here in Pittsburgh to have a core group of faithful pro-life Christians! Thanks to all of you for beginning this 40-day journey with me! I look forward to seeing what God will do.

Now, Here are the reports from Day One of our Lenten 40 Days for Life…

7-9am Charlene, Peggy & Randy:

Barb, Randy, Char, Anthony and Peggy brought the sunshine to PP at 7am this morning!

The first day of the campaign! Ash Wednesday. Chilly but the sun is shining and my fellow prayer warriors provide more warmth. It’s always uplifting to see Peggy and Randy each campaign. Anthony, who comes in his wheelchair, adds inspiration in one way, while Barb added it in another. Barb described how God led her to the sidewalk, but more than that, to a save and to a very deep conviction about abortion and Planned Parenthood. It’s amazing how God leads each of us to the sidewalk…for different jobs, using our different strengths… for one purpose- to end the evil of abortion. And as Harriet Tubman said, “No matter what, keep going!” And, we do!!!


9-11am, Terri & Elsie:

I arrived for my chilly 9:00 AM shift and was joined by Anthony, Elsie and her son, Gerard. Unfortunately, it was business as usual as we attempted to reach out to women entering Planned Parenthood. A few did take information. We were joined a little later by Dean, who frequently comes over to pray. I was thinking about how inspiring it is that the world has come together to condemn the situation in Ukraine and the taking of innocent lives. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the world reacted the same to the unjust treatment and taking of innocent lives of our precious unborn? I have a dream…


11am – 1pm, Katie & Sharon:

Katie and Sharon are both year-round Sidewalk Advocates and kept busy offering help and hope to many abortion-bound moms, dads and grandparents. Sadly it was a busy abortion day with some very young clients who seemed to be pressured by family members to go into that terrible place.

1-3pm, Nikki & Joe:

It was just going to be me and my husband Joe for my 1-3pm shift today, but I was happy to see that Libby had kindly volunteered to be there for the first hour. And Katie remained throughout my entire shift and beyond…even after completing her earlier two-hour shift! Katie’s dedication is inspiring! I must confess that I felt completely drained after last night’s energetic kick-off…and so I did not do much in the way of outreach to PP clients or passersby. I barely even prayed. I am embarrased to admit it, but I just counted the minutes down to the end of my shift. The world seems different somehow. The love of many has certainly grown cold. A poor young man was so drugged up that he couldn’t even pick up the cell phone that he dropped on the sidewalk and so he gave up and walked away. Joe picked it up and tried to go after him. The young man eventually sat on the sidewalk for a time, trying to hold onto his belongings which kept falling out of his hands. His face and neck were covered with tatoos. I am so sad for the young generation. They were never taught of the priceless value of every human life, and so they don’t understand their own. Before Joe and I left, we saw that we had a gotten a ticket on our windshield for parking in front of the yellow curb. I knew we weren’t allowed to park there, not sure why we did…but putting this here to warn others not to park there. Thanks to everyone who was there to pray and witness today! Sorry I am such a downer today.

Nikki and Joe, 1-3pm

3-5pm, Eileen & Jeannie:

I don’t think I would ever say that an afternoon on the sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood was enjoyable, but certainly several factors made this afternoon so much more positive than before. We were blessed with beautiful weather and we were so successful giving out the new pamphlet. In addition, the kids from the school stopped to look at the models and took a few of the 13-week fetus dolls. A woman stopped and took my material, then gave it back to me and walked on; but came back and apologized. She thought I was with Planned Parenthood! She said she donates to pro-life groups in her state and she would continue! For as difficult as it was to be in front of Planned Parenthood, I was there with a few of the best people in the whole city – and even great folks from Ohio!!! I was so grateful to have the company and the prayer support. Tom came at five and like a pit crew captain or MacGyver he was able to take apart the sidewalk display and get it nicely packed into the car. Thank you Diane and Tom for this heroic effort every day! I never like being on the sidewalk with Planned Parenthood but my heart is full to share this time with the wonderful people who are committed to this cause. Great start!

Jeannie 3-5pm

5-7pm, Joe K & Charlie:

Back in the saddle for the first “last shift of the day.” More people on the street for this shift than what I recall the last couple of campaigns.
Lots of couples passing by this evening too.  Many people exiting 933 late…

Blessed to be joined by my shift buddy Charlie – along with lots of sharing on an early spring like evening…

Joe 5-7pm

To conclude this post, Bill Slusser wrote this beautiful tribute to a veteran pro-lifer who passed away yesterday. Rest in Peace, John Valentine. We will miss your presence on the sidewalk:

Dear Pro-Life Pittsburgh Community,
I am saddened to report that yesterday (March 1st) we lost a Lifelong Pro-Life warrior. John Valentine was born to new life following a courageous battle with cancer.
John has been on the frontline of the Pro-Life battlefield for well over 40 years. He served as the Chairperson of the St. Ferdinand Respect Life Committee for many years until a parish split made him a St. Kilian parishioner. Nevertheless, he continued to attend meetings and participate in the St. Ferdinand RL committee for decades afterward. Throughout that time he gave of himself so freely in all things. You would know beyond a doubt he would be there for every Pro-Life event including PCUC dinners, LifeChain, 40 Days for Life, diaper drives and food drives. If a donation was requested, he would always make one.
For a period of time in his younger days, John was an avid writer of letters to the editor and he allowed his Pro-Life voice to be heard at every opportunity. He also had a unique relationship with the St. Ferdinand Priests during his time as Chairperson of the RL committee. To my knowledge, he was the only person that would enter a confessional and then be provided clear ground rules in which he was not permitted to discuss Respect Life business during his time with the Priest. John would often laugh about it and considered it a badge of honor that he had achieved such a level of persistence that caused the Priests to take such a defensive posture towards him.
He religiously participated in the March for Life with few exceptions. However, one year, job requirements kept him from attending. Nevertheless, when the bus returned that night from the March around midnight, John was there to greet each of the Marchers and hand them a single red rose as a tribute and a thank you for standing up for Life!
Personally, he influenced my Pro-Life journey in many ways. Not the least of which was his willingness to join me on my very first trip to witness in front of PP. He made a tough first step much more manageable and I am grateful to him for that. In the years following, as I increased the number of times I would head to downtown Pittsburgh, he was always readily available to join.
He has always participated in 40 days for Life during the St. Ferdinand reserved shifts. In addition he would join 40 days whenever he had availability. I would often read the daily blogs only to note, that yes, John had been down to the vigil, on his own, once again. And I would always marvel at his dedication.
In the last 10 years John has dealt with multiple health issues and in many ways his earthly body failed him. So while there is sadness that we don’t have him by our sides, fighting for this issue that he championed for so long, I think there is a lot of joy in knowing that he has finally achieved a form that is befitting his lion-hearted spirit. I also feel exhilaration on his behalf, as I imagine the deafening roar of approval from the millions of babies that he stood up for, cheering him on as he enters the Gates of Heaven. Not to mention the beautiful embrace he will receive from Jesus and the Father as they whisper to him, ”Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord”.
If you would like to pay tribute to John and his Pro-Life accomplishments, visitation will be on Friday, March 4th from 2 to 4 pm and from 6 to 8 pm at the Neely Funeral Home, 2208 Mt. Royal Blvd, Glenshaw 15116. A funeral Mass will be celebrated in his honor at St. Bonaventure Church at 2001 Mt. Royal Blvd at Noon on Saturday, March 5th.

2 thoughts on “Day 1…Thank you Dedicated Team members and Volunteers!”

  1. I’m so saddened to hear of John’s passing! What a dear man of God he was. Thank you, Bill, for sharing such a beautiful tribute to his life.

  2. The Sisters of the Holy Spirit will be praying daily for all participants and that their effort is fruitful, abortion stops! Life is respected. Babies can live!
    Blessings on all this Lenten Season.
    Sister Jolenta SHS

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