Maeve Roche, far right, with others at a Hamilton, Ont., 40 Days for Life vigil. Photo courtesy Maeve Roche

Miracles happen, says 40 Days for Life activist

  • September 23, 2023

Maeve Roche will stand vigil for the unborn on Main Street and Broadway Avenue in Hamilton, Ont., for the third straight year starting Sept. 27 and ending Nov. 5.

The youth and outreach coordinator for Campaign Life Coalition founded a 40 Days for Life presence in the port city as a 19-year-old in 2021 alongside her friend, Ana Rivera.

A self-described “cradle Catholic,” Roche has held pro-life beliefs since childhood. Her official entry, however, into the Canadian anti-abortion movement was via an internship with Campaign Life. The 17-year-old intern attended the 2020 March for Life in Washington, D.C. Roche described this event as “an invigorating moment that catalyzed a desire” to do more for the pre-born.  

This pull Roche felt towards joining the pro-life movement grew stronger over the coming months, even as she enrolled in philosophy at the University of Toronto. 

But then COVID-19 happened. One personal silver lining to the societal disruption was a natural opportunity to reflect upon the direction of her life. 

“I ended up deciding to drop out of school to pursue pro-life work full time because I felt such a strong calling from God,” said Roche, now 21. 

Roche chose to mobilize a 40 Days for Life vigil in Hamilton across the street from McMaster Children’s Hospital and the Hamilton Health Sciences abortuary because she appreciated how prayer is the driving force of this international campaign. 

“You are relying on God to intercede in the lives of women and the people passing by as you demonstrate publicly,” said Roche. 

Though she cannot quantify if the first two prayerful crusades saved any lives, they have borne fruits.

“We have cultivated a beautiful pro-life community in Hamilton,” said Roche. “Right now, we have over 100 people for our campaign. That does not mean they are out there everyday, but maybe they come out for an hour or two. It has been inspiring to build fellowship with other pro-life people and to encourage them to do more for our movement.”

Roche relayed the story of a bus driver. Initially, it seemed like he ignored the pro-lifers with their signs as he drove by the demonstration. One morning he waved to one of the volunteers. Soon after, he brought coffee to the prayer warriors. Eventually, this man — Roche did not provide his name — joined the 40 Days for Life movement and became one of its most dedicated volunteers. 

Similar transformative experiences have occurred with some onlooking university students, said Roche.

“We have students walking past our volunteers every morning. Maybe they would scowl at them or make unfavourable comments. Slowly, we would see the same students come by and smile at our volunteers or say good morning to them. Overall, having a consistent presence in that area with so many abortion-vulnerable young people can potentially soften the hearts of those who see the messages. That has been beautiful. Eventually, down the road, they may choose life if they have a positive experience with our volunteers.”

Perhaps the most significant experience of Roche’s first two years guiding 40 Days for Life in Hamilton was teaming up with the Toronto Sisters of Life to aid a young pregnant woman seeking refuge from domestic violence. 

This young woman, currently 21 years old, had recently immigrated to Canada. She fell in love with a man and moved into his place. She soon found herself pregnant. Roche said the partner became enraged and threatened the young lady at knifepoint to schedule an abortion. She scheduled the appointment but just could not go through with the procedure. She was harmed more after the man found out she didn’t terminate the pregnancy. 

Fortunately, she called the police on her abusive partner and fled the situation. While staying at a homeless shelter, a lady told her about the Sisters of Life. 

Wth the help of the sisters, the Hamilton pro-life activists helped the young woman find accommodations. They also held a baby shower and continued to support the woman who gave birth just over a year ago. 

Roche is eager to witness more miracles caused by the power of God in her third year with 40 Days for Life. 

Visit to find a vigil in your community. 

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