40 Days for Life launches Fort Worth vigil, points to increased abortion funding

By Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

Correspondent

North Texas Catholic

October 2, 2012

“We’re weeks away from one of the most important elections our nation has ever faced. It’s also the season leading up to the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. There’s never been a more important time to pray and fast for our nation and for an end to abortion.”

That’s the message David Bereit, delivered to more than 300 people who turned out for the Sept. 26 rally launching Fort Worth’s 40 Days For Life campaign. Focused on shutting down the abortion industry, the event uses prayer, fasting, peaceful vigils, and community outreach to change hearts and minds.

Started in 2004 by Bereit, a Texas A&M University graduate, the campaign has grown from a 40-day prayer vigil outside an abortion facility in College Station, to an international movement. Touted as the largest, most expansive 40 Days for Life operation to date, the 2012 campaign includes 316 locations in 49 U.S. cities and 15 countries.

In Fort Worth, a 24-hour-a-day sidewalk prayer vigil is planned from Sept. 26 to Nov.4 outside an abortion facility at 301 S. Henderson St. Participants can sign up for one- and two-hour shifts by visiting www.40daysfortworth.com and clicking on the “get involved” tab.

During the kick-off rally, Bereit told the crowd that every 24 seconds in the United States, “a boy or girl made in the image and likeness of God, perishes by an abortionist’s knife under the banner of choice.”Approximately 77,000 abortions are performed each year in Texas. Of that number, 5,852 take place in Tarrant County.“It’s a crisis that leaves a tremendous path of destruction. And, at the forefront of the crisis, is this organization,” the national director of 40 Days for Life said, pointing at a Planned Parenthood facility from the bed of a pickup truck.

One of every four abortions in the United States is performed at a facility operated by Planned Parenthood — an organization that receives $487.4 million in taxpayer dollars. Under the current presidential administration, funding from the federal government increased $100 million.

“You and I are literally being forced to underwrite an organization that is systematically destroying this nation’s future one boy, one girl, one mother, and one father at a time,” Bereit said forcefully.

Overwhelming statistics can generate despair, he admitted.

“But I didn’t come here tonight to do that,” the speaker continued. “We gather here tonight because we have great hope. And that hope comes from the Author of life and the Creator of all of us.”

Kathryn Perez listened as the speaker motivated his audience to action. The 24-year-old is a first time participant in 40 Days for Life but no stranger to standing up for the unborn. As a high school student, she received a three-day suspension after presenting a project about abortion in speech class.

“The teacher thought my pictures were too graphic,” she remembered. “I was just trying to show the reality of it. My peers supported me, but the adults weren’t happy.”

Now a mother herself, the St. Patrick parishioner plans to spend several hours in prayer outside the abortion facility during the campaign.

“It’s important that our generation gets involved so we can change the future,” Perez said. “Prayer can do that.”
Father Christopher Stainbrook attended the pro-life gathering with several parishioners from St. Mary of the Assumption Church and the Ordinariate Catholic community of St. Timothy. If people don’t work to protect the most vulnerable members of society, then no one is safe, he told the North Texas Catholic.

“We always think of martyrs as people who give up their lives for something but the word ‘martyr’ means ‘witness,’” the pastor explained. “What we’re doing, in a very small way, is becoming a martyr for the terrible crime of abortion. We’re witnesses, counterculturally, for the Catholic faith and the belief that every life is precious.”

As vigil participants continued to sign up for duty shifts, the founder of the 40 Days for Life campaign encouraged listeners to make their stand against abortion personal.

“There are people in your schools and church carrying the pain of abortion. Somebody you know has been affected,” he assured.

Since organizing that first prayer vigil in College Station eight years ago, Bereit has met three babies saved because of his effort.

“My prayer as you engage in this 40 Days for Life, is that you do everything you can to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves,” he urged. “ And I hope you too, one day, will hold in your arms a little boy or little girl who is alive because of your faithfulness.”

“We’re weeks away from one of the most important elections our nation has ever faced. It’s also the season leading up to the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. There’s never been a more important time to pray and fast for our nation and for an end to abortion.”

Published (until 12/15/2031)