Pro-lifers near end of 40-day vigil urged to ‘finish strong’

Photo Caption: David Bereit, national campaign director of “40 Days for Life,” interviews Pat Conklin of Knox County Right to Life outside Peoria’s abortion facility on Oct. 25.

By: By Tom Dermody

The national campaign director of “40 Days for Life” brought words of encouragement to those taking part in the focused pro-life effort and all who support the cause during events in Galesburg and Peoria last weekend.

“I want to encourage you to finish strong,” David Bereit told dozens of persons who have maintained a vigil at Peoria’s abortion facility since Sept. 23 that concludes this Sunday, Nov. 1.

“The finish line is only a week away,” he told those gathered on the sidewalk outside National Health Care, Inc., speaking on a bullhorn as traffic on North University Street sped by just behind him. “Can we all pray more? Fast in some way? Can we do everything we can to be on this sidewalk as much as possible?”

But Bereit, who coordinates concurrent similar public, prayerful campaigns in more than 200 cities across the U.S. — including Champaign — also encouraged all involved to “press on during Day 41 and beyond. Ultimately, that’s the true message.”

AFTER mingling with the Peoria participants, Bereit traveled to Galesburg where he was the featured speaker Sunday evening at the Festival of Life in Galesburg sponsored by Knox County Right to Life. He told a crowd of more than 100 that “each of us can make a difference, each of us can impact the world and help build the culture of life.”

A group from Galesburg made the trip to Peoria on Thursday nights during the “40 Days” campaign for a 7 to 8 p.m. prayer hour at the abortion clinic.
Bereit, who has criss-crossed the country during the current “40 Days” campaign, arrived in the area on Saturday and spoke that evening to a group of 25 Galesburg-area pastors at an appreciation dinner on the eve of the Festival of Life.

“My hope is that everyone will recognize the urgency of this moment in history and see they are part of the solution,” he said, calling the pro-life people he has met during his involvement over the past decade “the most heroic people on earth.”

ON THE sidewalks of Peoria, Bereit told the sign-carrying crowd of the difference they’re making. He said more than 400 babies have been saved because of the witness of “40 Days for Life,” including two this fall at the Peoria clinic. Some clinic workers around the country have left their jobs during this period of public witness, fasting, and education.

“God is mightier than the abortion industry,” he assured them. He offered prayers for expectant mothers in distress, women who have undergone abortions, facility workers, government leaders, and for the safety of all who maintain the public vigils. Even when they are alone during a vigil, participants are being prayerfully supported by thousands involved in the campaign across the country as well as five provinces in Canada.

Karen Guth, coordinator of “40 Days for Life” in Peoria, thanked all who have sacrificed to participate. Noting increased involvement and media attention, she said, “People are talking about this in the city.”

Two volunteers in the current campaign whose actions can be considered heroic are Rosie Buehler and Maureen Corrington. This fall’s sidewalk vigil has seen its share of rainy weather, and the prayer hours taken by those women have seen frequent downpours.

“They don’t ever complain,” noted Jenny Arvin, a member of St. Mary’s Parish in Metamora who is assisting Guth. “They’re always smiling and encouraging everyone.”

After the campaign ends, Bereit encouraged all concerned about the sanctity of human life to continue to volunteer, sidewalk counsel, and vote pro-life.

“We have a lot of work left to do, don’t we?” he said.

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