Champaign vigil remembers lives lost to abortion; proposed clinic raises alarm

Kristi Hofferber, the speaker for the Community Ecumenical Memorial Prayer Vigil on Jan. 22, places a rose in a vase at Holy Cross Church in Champaign during a candlelight procession to remember the more than 60 million lives lost to abortion in the United States. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

CHAMPAIGN — Kristi Hofferber knows she is the face of the “exceptions” to every argument against abortion.

Born as the result of rape and incest — her mother was abused by her father — she said 60 percent of people who are pro-life will make exceptions in those two instances.

While she doesn’t condone how she came into the world, Hofferber is grateful to be alive and emphasizes that her life has value.

“That’s where my voice comes from — just sharing God’s purpose for my life and bringing that light to the darkness of how I got here,” she said.

“We all know, as people of faith, the power of prayer. . . . We gather to give testimony to what we know is true — the sanctity and sacredness of life.” — Father Joseph Donton

Now the CEO of A Beacon of Light Pregnancy Help Center in Maryville, Hofferber brought her message to those who filled Holy Cross Church in Champaign on Jan. 22 for the 34th Community Ecumenical Memorial Prayer Vigil. The evening included readings from Scripture, song, and an emotional candlelight service and rose procession to remember the more than 60 million lives lost to abortion since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized it on Jan. 22, 1973.

In addition to Holy Cross Church, the prayer vigil was sponsored by Community Evangelical Free Church of Mahomet, Meadowbrook Community Church, Monticello Church of the Nazarene, Our Lady of the Lake Church in Mahomet, St. Matthew Church in Champaign, St. Patrick Church in Urbana, Rising Hope Church, Savoy United Methodist Church, Stratford Park Bible Chapel, Three Hierarchs Greek Orthodox Church, and Windsor Road Christian Church.

Representatives of each of the churches were involved, with some offering readings from Scripture or a reflection, leading song, or reading prayer petitions. Father Leopold Mushobozi, parochial vicar at Holy Cross, gave the closing prayer in Kiswahili.

PRAY, GET INVOLVED

“We all know, as people of faith, the power of prayer,” Father Joseph Donton, pastor of Holy Cross Church, said as he welcomed those who attended. “We gather to give testimony to what we know is true — the sanctity and sacredness of life.”

Will Childers of the CREW Youth Group at St. Patrick in Urbana, lights the candle of Kathy Voytovich of St. Matthew in Champaign, in preparation for a candlelight procession with roses during the Community Ecumenical Memorial Prayer Vigil on Jan. 22. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

There was an added urgency to this year’s prayer vigil due to the announcement that a new abortion clinic would be opening on Champaign’s west side.

And despite the fact that Roe v. Wade was overturned in June 2022, decisions regarding abortion have been returned to the states. Several people at the prayer vigil noted that Illinois actually has become a destination state for the procedure and that Champaign is targeted because it is a college town.

Renee Mullen, volunteer coordinator of 40 Days for Life in Champaign, said one of the ways they intend to work on behalf of the mothers and their unborn children is to surround the proposed abortion clinic with signage that will offer information about free, faith-based pregnancy centers, and an 800 number they can call for help.

The theme for the evening was “Life Wins! Now What?” and Hofferber had some suggestions.

The first is to pray — for those who are in leadership positions in the state, as well as nationally. She also encouraged prayers for those who are working in the abortion industry, that they would have the scales removed from their eyes.

“I think that’s important,” she said. “We’re not here to condemn anyone, but we can certainly pray for them. That’s the best thing we can do – to pray for them to learn, if they don’t already know, but to realize what they’re doing.”

The next step is to get involved in some way, according to Hofferber. If there’s not a life ministry where you are, start one, she said.

“Start small. Get a group together and just do something, even if it’s coming together to pray,” she said. “Do something.”

“WE CAN’T GIVE UP”

Some have told her they don’t want to live in Illinois anymore, but she discourages that thinking.

“If everyone who is pro-life picks up and leaves Illinois, what’s left? No hope. We have to stay here because we have to make a difference. We can’t make that difference if we all leave.” — Kristi Hofferber

“If everyone who is pro-life picks up and leaves Illinois, what’s left? No hope,” Hofferber explained. “We have to stay here because we have to make a difference. We can’t make that difference if we all leave.”

She acknowledged that it’s going to be hard.

“We’re going to have a lot of battles with the legislation, but we can’t give up. We certainly cannot give up,” Hofferber said.

The effort is worth it and must continue, Joy Pace told The Catholic Post.

“I’ve had many women come back to me and say, ‘Why did I do that? I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you. Now what do I do?’ and we help them,” said Pace, longtime respect life leader at Holy Cross. “I’ve never had anyone come back and say, ‘I should have aborted that child.’ I’ve never had that happen.”

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