The annual 40 Days for Life faith-based, pro-life campaign will run Sept. 25-Nov. 3 worldwide. The New Orleans event will kick off Sept. 24 at 6 p.m. in front of the Woman’s New Life Center, 3032 Ridgelake Drive, Metairie. Scheduled speakers will be Father Beau Charbonnet, Mary Nadeau, Cindy Collins, Angie Thomas and Brad Doyle.
At an informational meeting held Sept. 3 at the Old Metairie Library, group coordinators learned the nuts and bolts of the local 40 Days for Life effort in the metropolitan New Orleans area.
Mary Nadeau, who is the 40 Days for Life Louisiana coordinator and New Orleans campaign director, conveyed the spirit of Right to Life, which this year emphasizes the importance of groups praying as often as possible at the Woman’s New Life Center, near the Causeway Medical Clinic where abortions are performed.
Groups can sign up for an official slot as part of the prayer vigil, but Nadeau said the more frequently groups and individuals turn out on a regular basis, the better.
“In communities where this is successful, the whole community takes ownership in this,” Nadeau said. “Thirty-seven facilities have shut down in communities that have 40 Days for Life events. To be successful, you have to have some sense that we are a cohesive group.”
Nadeau mentioned that since the 40 Days for Life began, 7,536 women have chosen not to have an abortion, 83 workers have chosen to leave the abortion industry and 37 facilities have closed.
Nadeau said the Archdiocese of New Orleans has participated in all 40 Days for Life campaigns since 2009.
To generate more enthusiasm this year, team leaders have been culled from all age groups and faith backgrounds, she said.
And, two changes were made to this year’s 40 Days for Life in New Orleans. One, hours have been extended from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily, and 40 Days for Life has joined forces with NOLA Needs Peace.
Offering an additional hour at night allows people more time to take part after work, and it also gives women who chose not to have an abortion an opportunity to return to the clinic – when workers aren’t there – to openly discuss their decision with pro-life advocates. Nadeau said other communities who hold vigils discovered that women feel less threatened speaking with pro-life advocates when others aren’t around.
As in past years, the campaign takes on three components: prayer and fasting; prayerful vigil at the clinic; and outreach events.
By teaming up with NOLA Needs Peace, a special “Shine the Light” event has been planned every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (except the final weekend) on 4612 South Claiborne at Napoleon avenues, near the site of the proposed Planned Parenthood regional clinic. Volunteers will be given educational material about the choice for life and signs in opposition to the planned clinic.
“It will be good to see there are people in the community who support life,” Nadeau said.
A final “Shine the Light” candlelight vigil – “LA Needs Peace” will be held Nov. 1 at the South Claiborne and Napoleon Avenue site, featuring Archbishop Gregory Aymond and pro-life and religious leaders.
The Louisiana Needs Peace Conference will be Nov. 1-2 at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans, and the close of 40 Days for Life will be Nov. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Woman’s New Life Center on Ridgelake Avenue in Metairie.
In Louisiana, 40 Days for Life campaigns also are scheduled in Baton Rouge and Shreveport/Bossier City.
Nadeau said this campaign is vital to changing the way people view abortion.
“We have to get out of our comfort zone,” Nadeau said. “We have to face the reality that it (abortion) is affecting men and women in our community very deeply. This should encourage us and make it worth doing.”
For details or to sign up for a shift on Ridgelake Drive, go to: www.prolifelouisiana.org/events/40daysforlifela/40daysforlifenola/vigilsignup.html, call the New Orleans Right to Life office at 835-6520 or email mnadeau@prolife louisiana.org. Individuals can also text “prolife” to 22828 to join the campaign.
Christine Bordelon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.