40 Days for Life campaigns open in Peoria and Champaign

WITH THE city of Peoria’s skyline as a backdrop, about 80 people gathered Tuesday to prayerfully open a “40 Days for Life” campaign of prayer, fasting and public witness to end abortion.

Peoria and Champaign are among 212 cities nationwide that are taking part in the Sept. 23 to Nov. 1 campaign, which includes around-the-clock prayer vigils at the cities’ abortion facilities.

“We’re here to stop the human train wreck,” said Father John Verrier, pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish in Brimfield and St. James in Williamsfield, and one of four members of the clergy to address the crowd at Riverfront Park in East Peoria.

Saying “there is no debate when life begins,” Father Verrier led those present in a pledge to be “pro-life every minute of every day till the end of our lives.”

Father Verrier asked “Where is the compassion?” when distressed women feel they have no other choice than to end their pregnancy. He also lamented that one out of four women has an abortion in their lifetime, saying, “we are looking at a walking wounded society.”

KAREN GUTH, a member of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Peoria who prays outside the abortion facility at 7505 N. University St. throughout the year, is serving as director of the Peoria 40 Days for Life campaign.

Guth said that while “about one classroom of babies dies each week” at the Peoria clinic, most of the public is “unintentional accomplices” because of fear, ignorance, or apathy.

“We have been content to stand by and do nothing,” said Guth, who described the goals and practices of 40 Days for Life. She invited rally participants to schedule a time to pray at the continuing vigil, repeatedly asking “Will you join us? Will you make a sacrifice of your time?”

The 40-day period of the campaign, she said, reflects the several times in the Bible when God “uses 40 days for major transformations” such as the Old Testament flood or Jesus’ time of fasting in the desert.

Meanwhile, Champaign area pro-life advocates gathered at the Newman Center’s Lewis Lounge to pray for the area’s third 40 Days for Life campaign starting on September 23.

“We know 40 Days for Life has made a difference in the Champaign area,” said Ross Johnson, spokesman for the Champaign effort. “Here are just a few of the positive results of our previous campaigns: At least six lives that we know of have been saved from abortion, hundreds of students and community members participated in this peaceful vigil for the first time, and thousands of hours were spent in prayer for the unborn and their mothers.”

More information on the campaign is available online at www.40daysforlife.com.

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