40 Days for Life begins today in Arizona, nation

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Jeanette Barreras, a secular Franciscan, led other parishioners from St. Steven in Sun Lakes on an eight-mile walk Sept. 26 from the church to a Planned Parenthood location in Chandler. She’d raised $745 to support H.O.P.E. Mobile Unit.

The fall 40 Days for Life campaign kicks off Sept. 26 in some 315 locations nationwide — including all five Arizona locations within the boundaries of the Phoenix Diocese.

Catholics and others committed to the peaceful, pro-life prayer vigil will stand outside of abortion facilities in Chandler, Flagstaff, Glendale, Lake Havasu City, and east Phoenix. They’ll silently pray for an end to abortion while reaching out to passersby and clients through pro-life signs and literature.

Those wishing to join can search online for the vigil site closest to them. Several parishes and Knights of Columbus groups have committed time slots.

The campaign, which reports saving more than 5,925 lives from abortion, is now in five other countries. More than 45 locations, including one in Africa, will launch their first campaign Wednesday.

This won’t be Jeanette Barreras’ first time, but she is taking a fresh approach. The St. Steven parishioner will take an eight-mile journey on foot from the church — near Riggs and Alma School roads — north to the Chandler vigil site near Galveston Street. Barreras plans to maintain a presence there five days a week, up from the one day a week she does year-round.

She’ll carry a banner with her on the journey up Alma School Road. It will have an image of our Lady of Guadalupe front and center with the words, “Mother of the Unborn.”

“The Blessed Mother always comes with me,” Barreras said.

She knows her signs and her presence outside of abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood have the power to change lives. About six years ago, she carried a homemade sign during a pro-life vigil, “Mommy, Take my hand, but not my life.”

It was the same day she grew almost too weary of people yelling ugly things to her because of her presence. Barreras, who has prayed outside of abortion facilities for at least 21 years, asked for a sign from God or it would be her last day at a vigil. Then a girl came around a sidewalk who said she believes there is a God, but belongs to no particular religion.

“I’m here to tell you because you had that sign, when I drove in… when I was in there listening to the instructions on how to abort my baby, all I could think about was your sign,” Barreras recalls the woman telling her. “I don’t know why I didn’t want this baby. I have two other sons at home who are little.”

“What was ironic, it was her being my sign and I was a sign for that baby. It was a gift both ways,” Barreras said.

It was one of four babies that she says her prayerful presence saved from death at the Chandler Planned Parenthood. The moms tell her she was the sign they hoped to see.

Sponsors pledged more than $745 for Barreras’ eight-mile trek. Funds will support the H.O.P.E. Mobile Unit, which offers ultrasounds to women facing unplanned pregnancies. In the five hours she prayed near it recently, there were two saves.

A pro-life presence is being called for in Phoenix too. Camelback Family Planning, at 4141 N. 32nd Street, performs roughly 40 abortions there weekly, according to the Phoenix vigil page. A staff person reportedly shared that “due to a ‘quiet’ pro-life presence, women feel safer to come to her clinic for abortions.” This will be the third 40 Days for Life campaign at that site and 11th for the campaign overall.

They’re making a difference. A Sept. 19 blogpost by Shawn Carney, national campaign director, confirmed that an abortion facility in Knoxville, Tenn. shut down. That marked the 24th abortion center that went out of business following a 40 Days for Life vigil.

Another 69 abortion workers left the industry (hear from them in a National Catholic Register article). 40 Days for Life, which also involves fasting and community outreach, started in 2007.

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How to support the pro-life movement

  • Find a 40 Days for Life vigil
  • Follow the 40 Days for Life blog
  • To celebrate the 40th year of 1st Way of Maricopa County, a pregnancy resource center, support its spiritual bouquet of rosaries for the leadership of Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares. For more, follow 1st Way on Facebook or email Bethany@1stway.net
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