40 Days for Life and its impact

Bill Brewer Diocese of Knoxville, Lent, News

As the Diocese of Knoxville’s 40 Days for Life vigil begins enters the homestretch, vigil coordinators Paul Simoneau and Lisa Morris are thanking the individuals and groups that have participated in praying rosaries and holding pro-life signs in front of the Planned Parenthood facility at 710 N. Cherry Street in Knoxville.

Paul Simoneau

Paul Simoneau

Scores of individuals and more than 20 groups with the diocese are taking part in the vigil. Volunteers from faith-based organizations outside the diocese also have been participating in the vigil.

And for anyone wondering what impact the peaceful, prayerful vigil is having, Deacon Gordon Lowery, who serves at Holy Ghost Church in Knoxville, shares this recent encounter at the vigil site:

“The Lord works in mysterious ways. On Saturday, March 14, I and two other prayer warriors were standing in the rain praying in front of Planned Parenthood on Cherry Street.

“We were there because of our commitment to 40 Days for Life to pray for the end of abortion. While we were praying, a white van stopped on the street next to us and a lady stepped out into the rain. She was holding a cup carrier with three cups of coffee in it. She approached us and said ‘I am an abortion survivor. I believe that only God has the right to decide who lives or dies. My mother tried three times to have me aborted but I survived. I was driving by and saw you three standing here praying in the rain and it meant so much to me; I had to do something for you. Please take this coffee and God bless.’

“She handed us the coffee thanked us again and got back in her van and drove away. She not only brought warmth for our bodies but also warmed our hearts and souls. I believe this was God’s way of telling us that He hears our prayers and is touching people’s hearts.”

Others keeping vigil also have received thanks for their efforts. On March 17 while Glenmary Brother Craig Digmann and Sister Stella Maris, RSM, were keeping vigil, a man approached them and thanked them for giving a witness to life.

He recounted the story of a woman he knows who as a teenager was pregnant. Her mother gave her money and said she needed to get an abortion. The teenager knew in her heart that it was wrong and hoped that someone might help her decide to keep the baby. As she rode a bus to the clinic, she hoped that someone might be outside the clinic who could speak to her about keeping the baby. But when she arrived at the clinic, there was no one outside offering a witness of hope.

The well-wisher, who stopped to personally thank Brother Craig and Sister Stella Maris for keeping vigil outside of Planned Parenthood, said the woman is much older now, but everyday she regrets aborting her child.

Parishioners and groups in the Diocese of Knoxville still are encouraged to take part in the sixth annual 40 Days for Life campaign as part of their Lenten observance.

The 40 Days for Life campaign began on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 18, in front of Planned Parenthood’s East Knoxville clinic and continues through Palm Sunday on March 29. The pro-life volunteers have been holding peaceful, law-abiding vigils daily from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the nation and established its East Knoxville clinic, which is just south of Exit 390 on Interstate 40, in 2010.

Mr. Simoneau, director of the diocesan Office of Justice and Peace who is directing the 40 Days vigil along with Mrs. Morris, a Sacred Heart Cathedral parishioner, is expecting several hundred people to have taken part when the 40 Days vigil ends.

“We want to thank all those who have braved the cold, snow and rain to hold vigil and pray for the unborn. Thankfully the weather has improved and we continue to be grateful to all those who continue to keep vigil as we enter the homestretch and approach Holy Week and Easter,” Mr. Simoneau said.