The young adults being called “the Pro Life Generation” were well represented Sept. 25 at the kickoff for the fifth annual 40 Days for Life New Orleans campaign on Ridgelake Drive in Metairie.
“I think being pro-life is one of the best things ever,” Alexus Ally, 16, who was attending the rally with Cabrini’s Pro-Life Club. She mentioned that she and her brother were adopted and thinks it takes an event like this to demonstrate that Catholics stand up for what they believe in.
Brad Doyle, a Notre Dame seminarian studying to be a priest for the Baton Rouge Diocese, served as emcee and told teens that the kickoff would build a community of pro-life supporters and solidify and unify the pro-life vision of peace, joy and love.
“I’m going to suggest that when we pray … every person who goes into that clinic or works there accepts love by God. … Those who walk into that clinic are not the enemy. They just don’t know they are loved by God.”
Doyle led participants in icebreakers, and Angie Thomas, chief executive officer of the Woman’s New Life Center, reinforced the idea that God is hearing their prayers during the 40-day campaign. She and others said while those praying might not be able to see the fruits of their efforts as they offer a loving presence outside of the clinic, they are planting seeds.
“Just being out here is a witness to the workers (at the clinic) and the girls (going in),” said Laine Dessauer, vigil coordinator, who encouraged participants to be there spiritually by praying for the unborn children. “We don’t stand here in judgment but in hope. There is another way.”
Participants were invited to sign and post a prayer and fasting commitment for 40 Days for Life.
A solid platform
Mary Nadeau, 26, campaign director for 40 Days for Life campaign in New Orleans, said pro-life rallies offer an opportunity for supporters to openly express their beliefs.
“We know this is something that saves lives,” Nadeau said, adding how 5,928 women have changed their minds during the international 40 Days for Life Campaign. “Even if it’s only one life, that would be enough. … We believe that every single person who is participating is effecting the change through our gift of time and our prayer.”
Individuals and multiple faith groups holding hourly prayer vigils from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Nov. 4 is only once facet of the event. Fasting is another, as is weekly praise and worship tentatively planned on Fridays, and a “Bowling for Babies” event planned by Youth Ambassadors for Life.
As someone who has participated in past 40 Days for Life events, Nadeau said she would start praying with a heavy heart but then experience a tremendous peace knowing that Christ was walking beside her, suffering with the women and unborn children as they walked in the clinic.
“What is critically important is daily prayer for all of us and fasting during the whole 40 days, not just on the day that someone or a group commits,” Nadeau said. “Jesus’ call (to his disciples) was to watch and pray when he was in agony in the garden. This is a reality in our community today, and we can’t ignore it.”
Nadeau considers abortion something that hurts our culture more than we realize.
“It is a scourge on our world and our culture,” she said. “If we don’t value the life of the unborn, it is leading our society to not value themselves either.”
Cindy Collins with Speak Hope shared her story about having an abortion in 1973 while in college. She said when she visited a Planned Parenthood facility to seek advice about what to do, she was told that the life inside her was just a blob of tissue, not an unborn child.
Without much emotional support from her boyfriend, she chose abortion, a procedure she said was over in seven to 10 minutes and had a suction power 29 times that of a vacuum cleaner.
“My soul was sucked out that day,” she said. “Everything I knew was sucked out.”
She consequently did drugs and alcohol to ease the pain of abortion. She even tried to commit suicide, but she said God brought healing to her heart when she came to New Orleans.
“Jesus saved me, healed me and delivered me from all the pain in my heart,” she said.
Collins is optimistic participants will be moved by God to continue praying long after the 40 Days campaign.
“We are going to see the end of abortion,” Collins said. “You are going to be the generation that ends it.
A closing vigil is planned Nov. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Woman’s New Life Center, 3032 Ridgelake Drive in Metairie.
“It will be a peaceful, prayerful yet joyful and very hopeful night,” Nadeau said.
To volunteer for an hourly shift, visit 40daysforlifenola.com and click on vigil calendar/sign up. The Louisiana Right to Life office can be reached at 835-6520.
Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarion herald.org.
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