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Hundreds volunteer their time for the 40 Days for Life campaign

By MICHELLE DELANEY, Globe staff reporter

It started humbly seven years ago in Texas, but the 40 Days for Life campaign is anything but humble today. This year there were 301 reported locations worldwide that took part in the campaign, with several located within the Sioux City Dioceses.

In Sioux City, the movement kicked off at midnight on Sep. 28 with a prayer service in which Bishop Walker Nickless offered an opening prayer and Karmen Bower, assistant director of religious education and family life, presented some facts about abortion.

Throughout the 40 days, a prayer vigil outside of Planned Parenthood took place, in which volunteers prayed round the clock. An estimated 350 plus volunteers took part in the campaign by signing up to pray for hour-long segments.

In addition, Gehlen Catholic School brought a group of children down in their Halloween costumes with signs saying, “Every kid deserves a chance to Trick-or-Treat.”

Another one of the many communities that took part in the 40 Days campaign was Carroll. For the third year, people in Carroll witnessed every day for one hour along Hwy 30 to raise awareness and prayed for the victims of abortion. The volunteers displayed pro-life signs such as, "40 Days For Life", "Women Regret Their Abortion" and "Men Regret Lost Fatherhood."

Dave Prenger, a volunteer from Carroll said, “Ending abortion is critical in moving our country from a culture of death to a culture of life. If we cannot protect the most vulnerable in our society from harm, we will never be able to treat everyone in our nation with the dignity they deserve as children of God. We're trying to change our culture one heart at a time.”

For the first time this year, Storm Lake and its surrounding communities took part in the prayer vigil outside of Planned Parenthood. With over 100 volunteers signed up and numerous others who stopped in to pray from a couple minutes to a couple hours, the event was a huge success.

“There is now a foundation of believers in Storm Lake that I think is ready to take the next step to help end abortion,” said Sue Thayer, Storm Lake volunteer.

Storm Lake had three rallies during the 40 Days campaign to raise awareness on abortion.

Another aspect of the campaign is Life Chain, which took place on Oct. 2. Life Chain is a peaceful and prayerful witness of pro-life individuals praying for an end to abortion. In Sioux City, there were two demonstrations, one on Gordon Dr. and one on Hamilton Blvd..

“This was a good way to inform others that there are a lot of pro-life people out there and we are not a small number by any means,” said Bower.

In connection with the 40 Days for Life Campaign, The Diocesan Council of Catholic Women started a new drive this year, called the Baby Bottle Boomerang fundraiser. They took baby bottles, placed them in each classroom of their Catholic schools and religious ed. programs, and challenged people to bring in change to fill the bottle. Also, there were packs passed out at the Divine Mercy Conference.

All of the proceeds went to Mary’s Choice. Overall, around 320 baby bottles were put into circulation. The tag on each bottle read: “Your change can make a change for Mary’s Choice.”

“Using a theme to raise cash helps make more aware how sad taking the life of maybe the next pastor for our parish is,” said Cecelia Thelen, President of South Central Deanery of Council of Catholic Women.

The purpose of 40 Days for Life is to create a focused pro-life campaign through prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil to end abortion in America. Through the efforts of every campaign, there have been over 563 reported babies saved.

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