Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 2, 2009
Local pro-lifers launch 40-day prayer vigil
WCR PHOTO|CHRIS MILLER
Pro-life demonstrators leave candles and an icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe at the sight of their 40-day vigil for life in Edmonton.
BY CHRIS MILLER
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON – The 40-day timeframe is seen throughout biblical history as a period during which God brought about world-changing transformations.
With this significance of 40 days in mind, Edmonton Pro-Life hopes to use a grassroots method to awaken the city to the idea that every human being, from conception onwards, has the right to life.
From Ash Wednesday (Feb. 25) until Palm Sunday (April 5), Edmonton is one of five Canadian cities joining together for the most dynamic coordinated pro-life mobilization in history – 40 Days for Life.
Karen Richert, Edmonton Pro-Life’s office director and organizer of the inaugural Lenten event, said, “This is a way for people to pray and fast for an end to abortion.”
While all aspects of 40 Days for Life are crucial in an effort to end abortion, says Richert, the most visible component is the peaceful prayer vigil at Women’s Health Options (12409-109A Ave.).
The ideal way is to sign up and pray at the former Morgentaler Clinic for an hour or more. Her initial plan was to have a nonstop vigil at the clinic. They opted for 12-hour stints instead, from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
“Skeptics out there will say it will never happen, that we’re only dreaming,” said Richert, noting she is optimistic now after witnessing a similar pro-life vigil in Ottawa last fall that, with only eight days planning, saw upwards of 750 people brave the wind, rain and sleepless nights for 960 hours.
“We have seen how God used 40 days to help us before. This is probably one of the best ways for the pro-life group to help the community,” said Richert.
Originating in the United States four years ago, 40 Days for Life now has more than 130 communities in Canada, United States, Australia and Northern Ireland hosting events. In Canada, similar vigils are planned in Winnipeg, Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal.
NEW TO THE WEST
“It’s never been done in Western Canada at all. This will be the first time for Winnipeg, first time for Edmonton,” said Richert.
This is a non-confrontational campaign. Those who do not agree with Edmonton Pro-Life’s statement of peace, pledging to conduct themselves in a Christ-like manner, are not welcome to participate. This includes no threats, physical contact, vandalism of property and disobeying authorities.
“This is a peaceful prayer event. Particularly here in Edmonton, there is a restricted zone where people aren’t allowed to go,” said Richert. People found directly in front of the clinic’s “bubble zone,” the south side of 109A Avenue, are subject to arrest.
Emphasizing a prayerful presence, she cautioned participants to respect workers, volunteers, and others entering and exiting the clinic.
“Our engagement should be as a witness. The pro-life movement is a compassionate offering of assistance and help,” said Richert.
Coinciding with Lent, fasting is also an important component of the event, sacrificing food, TV, alcohol or anything else that separates us from God, in an effort to reach beyond our own limitations. “Not just a food fast, but anything really. We ask that you make a sacrifice for the full 40 days,” she said.
A special wrap-up of the campaign is planned for Palm Sunday at the site of the vigil.
For more information about the demonstration, or to sign up as a group or individual, contact Karen at 780-425-1637 or visit the website at www.40daysforlife.com/edmonton.
Letter to the Editor - 03/16/09