40 Days kick-off offers advice for pro-life vigils


By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

Catholics in the Diocese of Davenport have an opportunity to take their pro-life message to the sidewalks of an abortion clinic this fall through 40 Days for Life. Local right-to-life groups are encouraging those participating to use peaceful, compassionate methods in their efforts.

“As a pro-life community, we have a unique opportunity to reach out to women seeking an abortion in a compassionate, loving and non-judging way with emotional support, education about abortion, and aid in finding life-giving alternatives,” said Kendra Burger of Iowa Right to Life.

At a kick-off rally earlier this month at St. Wenceslaus Church in Iowa City, Burger joined Johnson County Right to Life in offering advice and support for persons wishing to participate in a daily prayer vigil outside of Emma Goldman Clinic, an abortion facility in Iowa City. The vigil will take place from Sept. 24 through Nov. 2. The ministry is directed toward parents of unborn children and abortion clinic employees.


Burger told The Catholic Messenger that she offered the crowd of 35 at St. Wenceslaus tips for offering compassionate, yet confident ministry. For those wishing to carry signs, Berger recommended using positive messages as opposed to graphic photos and words such as murder, sinner and abortion mill. “There is a time and a place for everything; in front of an abortion facility is not the time or place for this type of sign.”

She also recommended that participants avoid wearing bold-pro-life gear, as it can be intimidating. She discouraged yelling — even positive messages — and explained that participants must obey laws, and not block the facility’s entrance or become violent.

It is important to be educated and armed with brochures and other information that directs parents considering abortion to resources including local pregnancy resource locations and organizations providing post-abortion counseling, Burger noted.

Sheryl Schwager, president of Johnson County Right to Life, said those participating in the vigil may stand on the grass between the street and the sidewalk or on the edge of the sidewalk, making sure to leave room for pedestrians and bicyclists. The alley and parking lot are off-limits.

Participants may pick up resource brochures for distribution at the Newman Catholic Student Center on the corner of Clinton and Jefferson Streets in Iowa City, about a block away from the clinic. To participate in the Iowa City vigil, sign up for an hour at a time at http://40daysforlife.com/local-campaigns/ iowa-city or contact Schwager at director@ jcrtl.org or (319) 855-8475.

Additionally, persons wishing to pray outside of Planned Parenthood in Bettendorf, which does not offer abortions but can make referrals, may contact Jeanne Wonio for more information at (563) 355-4188.

Schwager said the 40 Days for Life campaign has been successful worldwide, with 8,973 unborn children saved through the program since 2007. “We’re always trying to reach out and increase awareness of the abortions that are occurring in our society and around the world, and bring more people to the ‘40 Days’ campaign so we can have more people praying outside the abortion facility.”

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