A Mother’s Day vigil: Rallying for life
For the 14th year, members of the Archdiocesan Sidewalk Counseling and Prayer Ministry and approximately 275 others met May 12 outside a Metairie clinic known for performing abortions and prayed 20 decades of the rosary in the annual Mother’s Day Crusade for Life.
Those gathered were energized by speaker Sarah Hull, who was diagnosed with cancer during her pregnancy. She mentioned how she wouldn’t stand for her doctor’s opinion that abortion was an option since the baby she was carrying would probably self-abort anyway during chemotherapy.
She did research and sought other doctors. Not only did she discover “chop chemotherapy” – a treatment other pregnant women had used to successfully deliver a healthy baby – she found an oncologist in Baton Rouge on Christmas Eve – that had the Lord’s prayer hanging on his office wall – who reassured her about the baby’s safety. On March 23, 2009, Margaret Mary Elizabeth Hull was born.
“The kind of pure joy I felt I wish everyone could experience at least once,” Hull said as she introduced her daughter. “Some doctors will tell you that there is a necessary reason to kill an innocent child. I don’t understand why doctors say that.”
“God is good,” Archbishop Gregory Aymond rallied. “All the time,” the crowd answered. “All the time,” the archbishop said. “God is good,” the crowd followed. He repeated the call out with God is life and God is forgiving.
Archbishop Aymond prayed with the crowd for Mary’s intercession to guide mothers carrying a child, help those thinking about abortion to receive enlightenment to choose life and for those who have had an abortion. He said the Catholic Church prays with them to find God’s peace and consolation.
He and priests in the archdiocese, including vocations director Father Steve Bruno, Archbishop Shaw’s Salesian Father Matt DeGance, Center of Jesus the Lord’s Father Lance Campo and Father Denzil Perera, then led the recitation of the joyful, sorrowful, luminous and glorious mysteries.
Old and young marched peacefully for more than an hour, praying and carrying banners in support of life. They walked past a relic of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is known as a defender of children, and staved the weather – an 80 percent chance of rain – by concluding the rosary just as a few drops of rain fell. “I think it’s really good for them,” Audrey Seghers, youth minister at St. Peter Church in Covington, said about the 12 youth she accompanied to the rally. “It makes the pro-life movement real. The average teenager would say they were pro-life but to actively march is different. Here (at the Metairie clinic), I think it makes the most impact on the people who drive by.”
And many did travel by and stopped to gaze at the marchers.
The sidewalk ministry is a division of the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ Respect Life office. It’s now in its 24th year – 19 years outside of the Metairie clinic – making an impact on the women using it and its employees.
Pam Richard, ministry coordinator with her husband John, called the Mother’s Day Rosary Rally a blessed day to honor the unborn and to pray for all mothers. She said the rosary was “a powerful weapon” and mentioned the effectiveness of praying by the fact that several clinics that performed abortions in New Orleans are now closed. The clinic in Metairie is no longer open every Saturday, and several of its employees, including a doctor, have quit.
“That is the power of everybody’s prayer,” she said, considering her ministry prayer in action. The group not only regularly prays and counsels outside the clinic but also buys groceries for women in need who visit the clinic and has helped former clinic employees with a change of heart find new jobs.
“We really have been able to help women decide not to abort their babies,” Pam Richard said. “We will continue doing this. We have too much at stake.”
To learn more about the Archdiocesan Sidewalk Counseling and Prayer Ministry, call 460-9360. The group will meet again to pray the rosary on June 9.
Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarion herald.org.