40 Days for Life is a 960-hour pro-life witness

by Robert Delaney of The Michigan Catholic
Published February 26, 2010

Robert Delaney | The Michigan Catholic
Praying as they maintain their vigil outside the WomanCare abortion clinic in Lathrup Village Feb. 18 are (from left) George and Joan Cooney, and Mary Jo and Art Cairo.
LATHRUP VILLAGE Day and night, in rain, snow or shine, and whether the weather is cold or colder, participants in the 40 Days for Life campaign plan to pray outside the WomanCare abortion clinic on Southfield Road until March 28.

Considering that they started Feb. 18, that will add up to 960 continuous hours of prayerful witness against abortion.

Sometimes only one or two people may be present, while at others, a dozen or more may be there, praying or explaining the pro-life position to anyone willing to listen.

To get involved

· For more information
about the Southfield 40 Days for Life campaign, contact Mike Stack at (248) 321-2105 or Barb Yagley at (248) 703-3577 or visit online.

· For more information about the Sterling Heights 40 Days for Life campaign, contact Maribeth Criscenti at (586) 264-4671 or Sue Kochanowicz (586) 978-7829 or visit online.

A similar demonstration is being conducted at the WomanCare clinic on 15 Mile Road in Sterling Heights, though it was not certain whether there would be enough volunteers to maintain an around-the-clock presence.

Both clinics are owned by Dr. Alberto Hodari, the Argentine-born abortionist. It was behind the Lathrup Villiage clinic that pro-life activists found discarded body parts from aborted fetuses and patient medical records in the dumpster several years ago.

Lathrup Village and Sterling Heights are among 163 cities nationwide where 40 Days for Life campaigns are being held this year.

"I felt a calling to do this. I need to talk to people about making a good choice," said Howard Weathington, who was among those taking part in the Lathrup Village demonstration last Friday morning.

"Four thousand abortions are performed every single day in the United States that's staggering. And probably more than one-third of them are African-Americans," continued Weathington, a member of Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Detroit.

George Cooney

"This is really a civil rights issue, probably the most important civil rights issue we will ever be confronted with," he said.

The current campaign is Weathington's sixth over the past three years, and he led the other participants present in prayer and offered advice on how to talk with those arriving at the abortion clinic.

Participants hope their prayers outside abortion clinics will help bring about an end to abortion in the United States, but also that their witness will move some of the clinics' customers from going through with an abortion that day.

Before Weathington says a word about abortion or offers a piece of literature, he always says, "God bless you," he told Pam Murdoch and Madeline Lokar.

Art Cairo

"It's hard to respond with anger to someone who's just asked God's blessing on you," he said.

Murdoch and Lokar, members of St. Rene Goupil Parish, Sterling Heights, were taking part in a 40 Days for Life campaign for the first time.

Nationwide, more than 2,100 kids have been saved through the 40 Days effort, says "Southfield" (Lathrup Village) campaign coordinator Mike Stack, a member of National Shrine of the Little Flower Parish, Royal Oak.

Lokar said her own experience raising two adopted children, in addition to one natural-born son, prompted her and her husband, Bob, to get involved in pro-life activities.

Murdoch said she and Lokar attended the Feb. 16 kickoff event for 40 Days for Life at National Shrine of the Little Flower, at which Archbishop Allen Vigneron and other speakers addressed those who would be conducting the vigils.

Mary Jo Cairo

On another day, George and Joan Cooney, members of St. Hugo on the Hills Parish were conducting the Lathrup Village vigil by themselves Feb. 18 until joined by Art and Mary Jo Cairo, members of National Shrine of the Little Flower.

"We think of the unborn babies and the mothers here. We want to speak out for all the unborn babies who die here," George Cooney said.

Art Cairo said he was there "to pray for the unborn and hopefully change somebody's mind."

Mary Jo Cairo tied the campaign to the Lenten season during which it is taking place. "As we're reflecting on the Passion of Jesus Christ, we also reflect on the right to life," she said.

Robert Delaney | The Michigan Catholic
Howard Wearthington, a veteran of six 40 Days for Life campaigns, advises first-time participants Pam Murcoch and Madeline Lokar on effective techniques last friday morning outside the WomanCare abortion clinic in Lathrup Village.