By Megan Erbacher
The Message assistant editor
Meredith Dixon, Right to Life of Southwest Indiana event and volunteer coordinator, told the crowd standing in front of Reitz Memorial High School that it “definitely was a time to celebrate,” as she welcomed everyone to the fourth annual 40 Days for Life fall campaign.
“This is the first kick-off without Roe v Wade; praise be to God,” she said to applause.
A group of women, men and children of all ages gathered outside Reitz Memorial Sept. 27 for the 40 Days for Life “celebratory” prayer vigil and procession. Father Chris Forler, priest-delegate of Reitz Memorial and pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Daylight and St. Bernard Parish in Snake Run, offered an opening prayer, followed by a brief overview of 40 Days for Life and a roughly 1-mile peaceful prayer walk to Planned Parenthood.
Diocesan priests, deacons and Catholic Center staff participated in the ecumenical event, which is a partnership between the Diocesan Office of Family and Life and Right to Life of Southwest Indiana. The event kicks off the 40 Days for Life fall campaign, which is Sept. 28 through Nov. 6.
Diocesan Director of Family and Life Eric Girten explained that the campaign consists of 40 days of prayer and fasting in shifts outside of a clinic or hospital that performs abortions or is an abortion referral center.
“The campaign also involves outreach to the community to promote awareness about abortion and outreach directly to women considering abortion,” Girten said.
Standing on the steps of Reitz Memorial, Father Chris asked God to send his Holy Spirit upon all during the 40 Days campaign.
“We ask that you would fill our hearts with your love and your regard, not only for those who are at risk of abortion, but especially those who purvey it,” Father Chris prayed. “We ask also that you would soften their hearts. That they may have conversion of heart, conversion of life.
“We ask that you also continue, through your great grace, to erode the foundations of the abortion industry in this country,” Father Chris continued. “That all may come to treasure the gift that you give to each one of us.”
Dixon thanked participants for “bolding supporting life with us.”
“Your prayers and presence send a powerful message to the community about the tragic reality of abortion,” she said.”
As participants walked the roughly 1-mile route, many held signs that read “Pray to end abortion,” “You don’t have to do this today,” “Ask me about abortion pill reversal,” and “Ask me about healing after abortion.”
Peaceful marchers lined the sidewalk of Weinbach Avenue in front of Planned Parenthood. Before the group was dismissed, they sang “Amazing Grace” and “God Bless America.”
Right to Life of Southwest Indiana Executive Director Mary Ellen Van Dyke explained the 40 Days for Life campaign is an international movement that occurs twice a year in the spring and fall. She said Southwest Indiana’s fall campaign was the largest with about 350 participants.
“We are blessed in Southwest Indiana that many of our residents support life,” Van Dyke said. “Those who support life and participate in these peaceful prayer vigils give voice to those who are voiceless – the preborn.”
To sign up to be a prayer partner for 40 Days for Life, go to https://40daysforlife.com/evansville or call 812-474-3195.