Approximately 120 people joined together on Nov. 4 at 7 a.m. for an outdoor Mass and evangelical prayer service to mark the end of our Fall 2023 40 Days for Life. The morning was dark, 35 degrees, and lightly raining. But that didn’t seem to bother anyone!
Fr. Tom [Lilly], our celebrant for Holy Mass, thanked us for our work these last 40 Days and reminded us that while might never witness any tangible fruit of our efforts, hearts and minds ARE changed by our presence, and lives are saved. Lives that cannot speak for themselves … lives that are entirely dependent on you and me to speak up for them.
After Mass, a group of 20 or so people walked to the sidewalk for evangelical prayer. Led by Karmelle Deile, who attends Chapel by the Sea, the service was a beautiful witness to the Body of Christ in Anchorage coming together to work and pray for our city’s children and their parents.
To read stories that confirm the impact you have on the sidewalk, please read below.
Thank you to all of you for working and praying together this fall! You who helped with planning and organizing; you who went to the sidewalk, whether for one hour or for multiple hours; you who are on the sidewalk all year long praying and offering help; you who long to go to the sidewalk but cannot, and offer prayer and sacrifice from your homes and churches; you priests, pastors, youth ministers, and church staff who support this work in so many ways; you who support and work with our CPC and Project Rachel to support women and men before and after an abortion decision; and you YOUNG PROLIFE PEOPLE who are our future!
The spring 2024 vigil starts on Ash Wednesday, which this year is February 14. Mark your calendars! What better way to celebrate LOVE than to launch another vigil for the unborn?
STORIES FROM ANCHORAGE 40 DAYS FOR LIFE 2023
Tracy’s grief (a story from Danielle, Cathy, and Bill)
The sun squeezed between the Planned Parenthood facility and a row of pines, and its glow instantly warmed our frozen bodies. After an hour and a half of praying in 30-degree temperatures, I regretted the lack of toe warmers. Still, the crisp air and blue October sky enlivened me, as did the camaraderie of my two prayer partners who had devoted themselves to this 40 Days for Life prayer vigil for the past six weeks. Cars swished-tailed around the corner from Lake Otis Street and slid down the hill of 40th Avenue, so our vigil was two-fold: prayer focused on the Planned Parenthood waiting room window and an ear tuned into the traffic that might accidentally slide into us. Instead of a skid, we heard a voice.
As I turned, I fully expected a repeated shout of what I’d heard earlier that morning when I walked from my car with my 40 Days for Life sign to the Planned Parenthood facility, “Don’t you have anything better to do with your time?” Those words stunned me. What better use of my time could there be than to pray for the protection of these babies? And now, as I turned to greet the voice calling me, I forced a smile, thinking, here we go again.
Instead, a forty-year-old woman faced us from the open window of her red Blazer with tears pouring down her face. Cars lined up behind her in frustration, and we worried she might get rear-ended by one of the cars sliding down 40th. “She shouldn’t stop in the middle of the road. She’s going to get hit,” I said as I made to cross the street and advised her to move on, but her words stopped me, words that sounded like a soul-cleansing confession.
“I was alone. I was so young, alone, and pregnant, and I had an abortion. I have regretted that decision all my life.” Tears turned into sobs as she shared the depths of her sorrow, her inability to forgive herself, and the conversations she had held with her lost baby. Cars swerved around her in anger, and we continued to worry for her physical safety, but we needed to assist her in this spiritual battle, so we called out to her. We told her how sorry we were for the pain she lived with. We shouted across the noise of cars that there was help available for her, that Project Rachel could help her through this terrible pain. Then the oxymoron struck me: shouting comfort.
My experience shows that asking questions about how people think opens many possibilities of the truth being revealed.
“I have to go to her.” Bill handed me a plastic rosary from his pocket, and Cathy called out when the road was clear to cross. I stood on the median and greeted this woman with tainted red hair and said, “I’d like to give you this Rosary and let you know that we are going to pray for you. Would you mind giving us your name?”
“Tracy,” she said, her face shining from tears. Her hand trembled as she accepted the Rosary and our prayer, “Thank you.” She choked on the words that followed, “I can’t forget or forgive myself.”
“Project Rachel. Do you think you can remember those words? Project Rachel. Project Rachel is an organization that can help you in your pain and struggle. Please look it up online. That’s Project Rachel.” I felt helpless and frustrated with myself for not having a pamphlet to hand her. How could someone in her state of mind remember to look this up online? All I could do was repeat the words enough times so that she might remember them and find the help she needed. One car persisted in staying behind her, and I worried that they would now be struck by the cars that continued to slide and swish tail around us, but I didn’t want to turn Tracy away in her time of need.
“I’m sorry, Tracy, but you should move on. I’m afraid you will be hit by one of these cars if you stay here in the middle of the road.”
As though waking from a fog, she glanced in her rearview mirror and said, “Oh, yeah. Okay.”
“Remember, we’re praying for you, Tracy. Project Rachel can help you. God loves you; you know. God bless you.” And she drove off with a final call of thanks.
ALASKA WATCHMAN DIRECT TO YOUR INBOX
I walked back across the street, and the car that had waited patiently behind Tracy suddenly stopped in the same spot and opened its door, ready to hand us money. “Oh, no, we’re not taking money, but thank you! God Bless you,” we all three shouted and laughed.
Like a catalyst, these 40 Days for Life signs had caused a series of reactions, and we stood in awe and thanksgiving to God for allowing us to witness this. As though to inspire us for our next 40 Days for Life Vigil in Spring 2024, during our final Monday of this six-week Autumn vigil, God allowed us to see the fruits of our labor.
Shirleen’s question (Shirleen is a veteran sidewalk counselor)
A few weeks ago, when I was sidewalk counseling at Planned Parenthood, a young lady, maybe 30, came over to me from the parking lot and after I gave a brief explanation of why we were at Planned Parenthood she said, “You know I’m pro-choice.” I asked her how she came to that decision. She responded with about a half an hour of talking about many of her friends who had abortions and she felt she had to support them.
I said that many girls end up regretting their abortions. She told me one of her girlfriends is almost 50 years old and has had six abortions. She now is trying to get pregnant to make up for her lost babies.
As we talked more, she came to realize that she really was not pro-choice at all, and in the end, she thanked us for what we were doing. It turned out to be a very productive, joyful discussion, and I was thankful for the outcome. My experience shows that asking questions about how people think opens many possibilities of the truth being revealed.
The views expressed here are those of the author.