"Big Four" Highlights


40 Years for Life

In a small way, our family contributed to a Culture of Life

By Brian Caulfield, FFG Editor

On a traffic island across from a creaky looking building that houses an abortion facility, I saw clear signs of the strength and resilience of the pro-life movement. Though it has been 40 years since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion virtually on demand, and we have gone through advances and setbacks for the cause, it can take only one word or a silent witness to spark the Culture of Life anew, as I witnessed with my family last fall.

Our parish took part in the 40 Days for Life event one Saturday in October, providing a prayerful presence outside an abortion facility in Hartford, Conn. In two-hour shifts, parishioners came to stand on a traffic triangle in the middle of a busy intersection; they prayed the rosary, offered intentions for love and life, and left as another group of parishioners arrived to relieve them. For most of us, the experience was an eye-opener. We knew that more than 1 million abortions are performed each year in America – with some 55 million in the past 40 years – but it was chilling to stand across from a place where these statistics took on a human face and life-or-death consequences. Most of us came thinking about the harm and injustice done to the innocent children in the womb, and to pray for their protection. But most of us left also with deep concern for the mothers, the women who went into the clinic looking so hopeless and alone. We realized that they were the other victims of abortion, and we prayed fervently for them as well, standing ready to refer them to the nearby pro-life pregnancy center.

My wife and I came with our two boys, age 12 and 8. We were hesitant to bring them to such a public event, but decided it was time for them to see that what we teach about the sacredness of human life has a practical application in the world. As it turned out, our boys were more than prepared, and served as wonderful witnesses that day.

When we arrived at the intersection in mid-afternoon, there were six parishioners praying the rosary as a group, and a smaller group reading the Psalms. We took cardboard signs bearing pro-life messages. My sons especially liked the ones with an image of a child in the womb, and they lifted them high above their heads for the passing cars and pedestrians to see. We joined the rosary.

A car horn honked. Oh, no, I thought: a protestor. I looked around to see the driver waving a thumbs-up in support. Most drivers and their passengers simply passed by, but they all looked, trying to figure out what was going on. My wife and I realized that our boys were a source of attention. They were not running or jumping or making a scene. They were simply standing, holding the signs with the unborn baby, young enough for everyone to make the connection between the child in the womb and the boys holding the image. Teenagers passing on foot heard our prayers and saw our boys, and smiled. An old man walking with a cane stopped in front of our sons and told them, “You are doing a great job!” A young, pregnant woman took our pamphlets and said she would never get an abortion. Some passersby did give nasty looks, or crossed to the other side of the street to avoid us. A few cars slowed down to gun the engine and leave us in a haze of exhaust. We continued to pray.

At the end of the two-hour shift, our boys were getting restless and began playing hide-and-seek, laughing and loving life. After finishing one last rosary, our family returned to our car in the nearby church parking lot. We had a strong sense of satisfaction that comes with doing the right thing. For a few hours, in the course of a 40-day event, in the midst of a 40-year struggle, we had seen many signs of life for the future.