By Anne Marie Amacher
BETTENDORF — Luminaries lighted the route to events marking the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that led to the legalization of abortion in the United States. The Women’s Choice Center in Bettendorf sponsored a vigil Jan. 22 at the center and at neighboring Heritage Church.
Father William Kneemiller, pastor of Sacred Heart parishes in Lost Nation and Oxford Junction and St. James Parish in Toronto, led the rosary for a crowd that overflowed the center’s chapel. More than 200 participated in the rosary, filling most of the first-floor lobby, staircase and parts of the second-floor lobby.
Following the rosary, participants walked up the hill to Heritage Church for praise and worship, led by Scott Schaefer, executive director of the Quad-Cities Prayer Center. The 500 luminaries that lined the route between the center, church and Planned Parenthood clinic were the work of volunteers and youth from St. Paul the Apostle Church in Davenport.
Vicki Tyler, executive director of the Women’s Choice Center, gave introductory remarks at Heritage Church. “On behalf of Life and Family Education Trust and the Women’s Choice Center, we unite together in the body of Christ to remember Roe versus Wade 36 years ago,” Tyler said. She asked those in attendance to pray for the unborn and for sanctity of life.
Afterward, more than 250 people sang praise and worship songs with Schaefer. They also viewed the video, “Blue Eyed Janey.”
As people were dismissed, organizers asked them to process silently to the parking lot of the Women’s Choice Center. There, speakers prayed for the unborn, for a conversion of hearts and an end to abortion. Refreshments and fellowship followed inside the center.
Fr. Kneemiller offered a prayer of thanksgiving for the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants who pray outside the Planned Parenthood Clinic each Tuesday in all kinds of weather.
“The bitter cold does not dampen the fervor of their desire to pray for conversion of hearts,” he said.
He told a story about how the Helpers saved a baby and received thanks from the couple who chose not to go through with a scheduled abortion. “This is a prayer of thanksgiving,” the priest said.
Fr. Kneemiller also prayed for other ministers. “Last month I was talking to a minister at an ecumenical gathering about the scope of abortions. I mentioned that the estimated number of abortions in the U.S. alone is between 3,000 and 4,000 every day. He told me he seriously doubted it was anywhere close to that number.
“This minister was well-educated and a youth minister also, so I thought I’d better check my facts. So I consulted the Web site for ‘Planned Parenthood Fact Sheet’ and the last year they reported was in 2002, with 1.29 million abortions, or about 3,500 every day. But this number would not include all the RU-486 abortion pills being given, or abortions performed at state and private hospitals, so the numbers are staggering, and truly, almost beyond belief.
“We need prayers for all young women and families who are caught up in the culture of death. As the late Pope John Paul II stated, ‘For life is all we have, let us cherish it!’”
Tyler said of the event, “We were all one body. Catholics, Protestants, Evangelical. We prayed together as one. It was awesome.”