Fifth annual prayer vigil, march kicks off 40 Days for Life

By Megan Erbacher

The Message assistant editor

The crowd listened to speakers on the steps of Reitz Memorial High School before a peaceful prayer walk to Planned Parenthood. The Message photos by Megan Erbacher

It’s important to show women they are supported, according to University of Southern Indiana senior Isaiah Kiesel, and that they have other options besides abortion.

That’s one reason Kiesel, who serves as treasurer for USI’s Students for Life group, felt it was important to participate in the Sept. 26 prayer vigil at the front steps of Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville before peacefully marching roughly one mile to the North Weinbach Avenue offices of Planned Parenthood to kick-off the fifth annual campaign of 40 Days for Life, which runs through Nov. 5.

“It’s very important, especially for college-aged individuals, because we face a lot of unplanned pregnancies,” Kiesel said. “And for them to see other people their same age will help them understand that they are loved, cared for and there are alternatives to something that is so evil. But, it’s ultimately just to help support them in a tough time, a tough situation.”

About 80 women, men and children of all ages gathered for the 40 Days for Life event, a partnership between the Diocesan Office of Family and Life and Right to Life of Southwest Indiana. The campaign consists of 40 days of prayer and fasting in shifts outside a clinic or hospital that performs abortions or an abortion referral center.

Diocesan Director of Family and Life Eric Girten welcomed everyone before introducing Father Jason Gries, pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish in Evansville. Standing on the front steps of Reitz Memorial, Father Jason offered an opening prayer.

Father Jason Gries, pastor of Holy Redeemer Parish in Evansville, stood on the front steps of Reitz Memorial High School to offer an opening prayer at the beginning of the 40 Days for Life campaign.

“We gather here together to be able to stand up for life, to do the best thing that we can do in praying for life, praying for all aspects of life,” Father Jason prayed. 

“Lord, for all of the hearts and minds that have opened over the years, for all those children’s lives that have been saved through these 40 Days for Life,” Father Jason continued. “Lord, we ask that more hearts and minds may be opened, not only those seeking an abortion but those in positions of authority, positions of power, that they might recognize the truth that every life has value in your eyes. That every life has that dignity born of you.”

Students for Life’s Great Lakes Regional Coordinator Benjamin Ice, who resides in Indianapolis, said no woman deserves to stand alone. Ice said it’s the responsibility of the pro-life movement to be by her side and to support her every step of the way.

“Our generation and our culture are constantly being told that abortion is normal and that it’s the best solution,” Ice said. “The truth is, abortion is not compassionate, it’s not loving, and it’s actually discrimination against women and newborn children.

Victoria Ford, client services coordinator for the Go Mobile Clinic with Right to Life of Southwest Indiana, offered a brief overview of 40 Days for Life. Since the international movement first occurred in 2004 in College Station, Texas, Ford said there are more than 1,000 campaigns of 40 Days for Life in 63 countries.

About 80 women, men and children of all ages lined the sidewalk of North Weinbach Avenue in front of Planned Parenthood after a prayer walk from Reitz Memorial High School to kick off the fall 2023 observance of 40 Days for Life, which continues through Nov. 5.

“Your prayers and presence send a powerful message to the community about the tragic reality of abortion. … More than 23,000 recorded lives have been saved due to our steadfast diligence and prayer over the years through these campaigns,” Ford said.

As participants walked the route from Reitz Memorial to Planned Parenthood, many held signs that read “Pray to end abortion,” “The future is anti-abortion,” and “No woman stands alone.” Peaceful marchers then lined the sidewalk of Weinbach Avenue in front of Planned Parenthood and sang “God Bless America” before the group dismissed.

To sign up to be a prayer partner for 40 Days for Life, go to or call 812-474-3195.