40 Days for Life vigil launched

  • February 27, 2009
{mosimage}OTTAWA  - Five Canadian cities kicked off 40 Days for Life vigils of fasting and prayer to end abortion to coincide with Lent.

Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and Edmonton have joined more than 175 American cities in maintaining prayer vigils outside abortion clinics and hospitals. The 40 Days campaigns began in the United States four years ago.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Omnibus Bill that “led to opening the door to abortion on demand in Canada,” said Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast at a vespers service Feb. 22 anticipating the campaign.

“What a tragic loss it has been to our country of the hundreds of thousands, the millions of souls who have never been given the chance to see the light of day,” he told about 300 gathered at St. Patrick’s Basilica. Ottawa began its vigil Feb. 24 with a rally across the street from the Morgentaler abortion clinic on Bank Street.

Toronto also began its vigil with a special service on Feb. 22 at St. Charles Borromeo Church, which is about a block away from the vigil that began at midnight Feb. 24 at the Women’s Care Centre.

Campaign Life Coalition organizer Nicole Campbell, who organized Ottawa’s successful 40 Days campaign last fall, said she is excited because “it slowly and surely is coming together.”

She is finding it a little harder in Toronto than in Ottawa, despite the support of Archbishop Thomas Collins, who will do a midpoint rally Mass at St. Charles Borromeo on March 15. She blamed winter weather and the size of Toronto.  “It’s harder to get people activated and committed to those hours,” she said.

But she expects once the campaign starts more people will get involved and, as happened in Ottawa last fall, far more will be involved at the end than were at the beginning.

“I think it’s going to reinvigorate the pro-life movement across the country wherever the 40 Days campaign occurs,” said Ottawa 40 Days co-ordinator Paul Lauzon.

Sixty Ottawa parishes have representatives organizing teams to conduct the 24-hour vigil in front of the Morgentaler abortion clinic, he said.

Edmonton Pro-life office director Karen Richert was inspired by what happened in Ottawa last fall. 

“It’s never been done in Western Canada at all,” she said. “This will be the first time for Winnipeg (and) for Edmonton.”

In Edmonton, the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. silent prayer vigil is taking place at Women’s Health Options, site of the former Morgentaler clinic. In Winnipeg, the prayer vigil will take place at the Women’s Pavilion of the Health Science Centre.

CLC Manitoba’s Maria Slykerman said Winnipeg, like Edmonton, is holding a 12-hour vigil because of the cold temperatures and the deserted area in the middle of town where the vigil will take place. 

Montreal is also holding its first vigil at the Morgentaler clinic.

Campagne Quebec-Vie organizer Georges Buscemi said its 12-hour-a-day vigil is meeting with enthusiasm among evangelical and English-speaking Catholic parishes, but little interest from the French-speaking ones.

Buscemi said they are prepared for possible hostile reactions. So is Ottawa, where last October a woman assaulted participants, knocking two praying women to the ground and pummeling their faces. Lauzon said Ottawa police provide frequent checks in the well-lit area across from a 24-hour restaurant and a group of men called the Knight of the Miraculous Medal are on call if there is a lack of participants in the wee hours of the morning.

Each city has a web site that can be found at www.40daysforlife.com .

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