More than 600 people turned out for the 30th Annual Bishop’s Rosary Vigil

Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

Correspondent

North Texas Catholic

Over 600 participants joined Bishop Michael Olson for the 30th annual Good Friday Rosary Vigil outside the Planned Parenthood facility in Southwest Fort Worth. (Photo by Joan Kurkowski-Gillen/NTC)

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Joe Storto saved two babies from abortion the week before Easter. What does the experienced sidewalk counselor say to convince troubled mothers to drive out of the abortion center parking lot? There are no magic words or winning formula, he admits.

“I say whatever the Holy Spirit tells me to say. It’s different things to different people,” Storto explains.

The former Navy pilot compares the experience to landing a jet on an aircraft carrier. He was trained to be exact and always follow the same flight procedures.

“But of the 400 times I’ve landed on a carrier, no two were the same,” he continues. “It’s that way with people walking into an abortion facility. No two couples or individuals are the same. You try to read them and, hopefully, say the right thing, guided by the Holy Spirit.”

And how does it feel when someone reconsiders and walks out of the center?

“It’s exhilarating!” Storto admits. “It’s a life saved!”

A handful of volunteers, like Storto, stand in prayerful witness outside Fort Worth’s two remaining abortion centers several days a week. On Good Friday, they were joined by Bishop Michael Olson, clergy, and more than 600 people who turned out for the 30th Annual Bishop’s Rosary Vigil. For the first time, the event was held at the new Planned Parenthood facility in Southwest Fort Worth. Licensed as an outpatient surgical center, the facility is one of five or six in Texas where babies can be aborted up to 20 weeks.

Christina Bautista began attending the annual Rosary Vigil as a child with her mother, Sally Rangel. Now 29, she’s active in the pro-life community and carries on the tradition with her young nieces. The youngsters pray for unborn babies during the monthly family Rosary.

“They understand what’s going on here in simple terms,” says the parishioner from St. Patrick Cathedral, referring to the nearby center. “I think it’s important for kids to know what we stand for and what our faith stands for when it comes to abortion. We’re not crazy. It’s about protecting life.”

Angelica Padilla, a member of the youth group at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Fort Worth, attended the 2014 March for Life in Washington, D.C., and left the event inspired to do more for unborn souls. The 16-year-old takes the time to talk with classmates who are pregnant and considering abortion.

“They tell me they’re too young to have a baby right now and need to live their life,” Padilla says, recalling the arguments she hears. “I advise them to think about adoption. I tell them to keep the baby, and if they don’t want it, give it to a loving family.”

A first-time Rosary Vigil participant, the Can Academy student hopes her presence outside the abortion center sends a message.

“It’s not right to kill babies,” she asserts.

Chuck Pelletier, director of Fort Worth’s Mother & Unborn Baby Care, Inc., organizes the Rosary Vigil each year with his wife, Pat. For three decades, the pro-life warrior has prayed outside abortion centers and offered help and resources to women facing a crisis pregnancy. He says a charitable heart — not gruesome posters — persuade women to choose life.

“I still contend, after 30 years of doing this, that women who come away from abortion mills are looking for someone to tell them it’s the wrong thing to do,” Pelletier insists. “When we’re out there being gentle, loving, non-threatening, and offering our support — that is the message some of them need to hear.”

After a baby is saved from abortion, the veteran sidewalk counselor often has the opportunity to speak with the mother.

“I get to see her at the (Mother & Unborn Baby) center if she needs assistance, and I always ask, what made a difference?” Pelletier explains.

The answer he hears is always the same and makes the hours of “gentle, prayerful presence” outside an abortion center worthwhile.

“Somebody was out there who cared about me.”

Joe Storto saved two babies from abortion the week before Easter. What does the experienced sidewalk counselor say to convince troubled mothers to drive out of the abortion center parking lot? There are no magic words or winning formula, he admits.

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