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40 Days for Life kicks off

By JOANNE FOX, Globe editor
(Email Joanne)

The Diocese of Sioux City will again be participating with others across the nation and world to support a peaceful prayer vigil for life.

The 40 Days for Life campaign will take place from Sept. 23 through Nov. 2 and is sponsored, nationally, by the Council of Catholic Women and, locally, by the Diocesan Prolife Commission, with support from the Knights of Columbus.

According to Fred Shellabarger, assistant director of adult catechesis and family life, the 40 Days for Life campaign’s purpose is to pray and fast for an end to abortion in the city and nation.

“Our kickoff will begin with a 5:30 p.m. Mass, Sept. 23 at Immaculate Conception Church with Father Armand Bertrand as celebrant,” he said. “After Mass, we will move to the parish center where Father David Hemann will offer a time of praise and worship. We will have a witness talk about the impact 40 Days has had, pray, have the 40 Days items available.”

Blessed Sacrament Parish in Sioux City and the diocesan Pro-life Commission will host an event on Oct. 2 with “The 40 Film.”

“The film will be shown at Bishop Heelan Fine Arts building,” Shellabarger noted. “Doors open at 6:30 and the film will begin at 7. It’s free admission because we want the place to be full. Bishop Walker Nickless will be there, also, and a reception will follow.”

Despite the closing of Planned Parenthood clinics and in Sioux City, the cessation of surgical abortions at Planned Parenthood, Shellabarger acknowledged that often pro-lifers can get discouraged about the time it takes to make progress in the fight against abortion.

“In this year’s campaign we are emphasizing thanksgiving, for it is not a matter of if the practice of abortion comes to an end, but when,” he said. “Much work still needs to be done. Planned Parenthood still offers abortive services via chemicals and pills. It is encouraging to see how far we have come, but we must not grow weary in well doing.”

Shellabarger pointed out the importance of remembering if God is on “our side, we cannot fail.”

“Nevertheless, we have our role to play, and that is that of the watchmen, calling attention to the evil of abortion – albeit animated by the love of Christ and moved with love and compassion for our neighbor,” he said. “Through prayer and fasting, peaceful vigil and community outreach, not only can we bring about change, but we will bring about that change; change from a culture of death to a culture of life.”

The three components of the 40 Days for Life campaign are:

1. PRAYER AND FASTING: Join together with other believers for 40 days of fervent prayer and fasting for an end to abortion.

2. PEACEFUL VIGIL: Stand for life during a 40-day peaceful public witness outside the local Planned Parenthood (4409 Stone Ave., Sioux City).

3. COMMUNITY OUTREACH: Bring a positive pro-life message through media efforts, advocacy and public visibility.

Shellabarger acknowledged not everyone can be physically present to pray at a Planned Parenthood clinic.

“Part of the beauty of the 40 Days approach is that it can be adapted to a variety of circumstances. If one is unable to join us by being physically present at the vigil, I would encourage them to pick an hour or two on a given day in which they can join us in prayer,” he said. “Also, fasting. There is much power in offering up sacrifices to the Lord. Join us for a 40 day fast. They can practice peaceful vigil and community outreach by being a good witness of the Gospel, by helping others to see the value of human life and the dignity of the human person.”

There are some changes in this year’s 40 Days for Life sign-up, Shellabarger added.

“People can sign up on the website at http://40daysforlife.com/local-campaigns/sioux-city,” he said. “This is not the same site as last year as 40 Days campaign headquarters is making some changes and improvements to our site. Unfortunately, not all those changes have been implemented in time, so there are some difficulties with sign-ups.”

Shellabarger added, the previous 40 Days website has not been taken down yet, which has caused some confusion.

“Nevertheless, individuals can still use the site to sign up, but they will need to create a 40 Days account and follow the screen prompts,” he said.

People may also sign up via email at freds@scdiocese.org or call (712) 233-7532 and follow 40 Days on Facebook and Twitter.

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