by Bob Reedy (Editor, Florida Catholic)
NAPLES â€“Â Bill Shepherd was heartened to see more than 250 people gather for the kick-off of the 40 Days for Life prayer vigil in front of the Planned Parenthood of Collier County abortion facility.
Shepherd holds a sign every Monday â€“ the days the facility does abortions — and plans to come out even more during the 40 Days for Life which began Ash Wednesday and concludes April 1. Demonstrating the obvious need for prayer at the location, Planned Parenthoodâ€™s own statistics reveal that 484 clinical abortions were done at the facility in 2011.
For the first day of the vigil, a large group, led by Bishop Frank J. Dewane, walked to the clinic from a remote parking area. Standing on the corner of Goodlette-Frank and Creech roads, the sidewalks around the abortion facility were covered with people in prayer and silent protest. A recitation of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary was led by students from Ave Maria.
Many came from the Ash Wednesday Mass atSt. Johnthe Evangelist Parish celebrated by Bishop Dewane and priests from the area.
The 40 Days for Life prayer vigil is an important opportunity for people to stand as a witness against â€śthis scourge in our society,â€ť said Bishop Dewane. â€śWe are not individual Catholics; we are a community of Catholics. We must stand up together and let the rest of the world see who we are and pray for an end to abortions inNaplesand across the country. Now is the time.â€ť
Shepherd, who lives in Alva, but goes to St. Agnes Parish inNaples, carried a sign which read: â€śAdoption Not Abortion. Join Us. Pray to End Abortion.â€ť Standing near the property line of Planned Parenthood alongGoodlette-Frank Road, he sees and hears lots of reactions to his sign. Blaring horns, most in support, some drivers flash their headlights or an occasionally they flash an unfriendly gesture. None of this discourages Shepherd and should not keep anyone from coming out and standing witness for life. â€śI wish we had 250 people every Monday,â€ť he added. â€śThe group we have here each week knows we are making a difference, especially when we are approached by women who are looking for an alternative to an abortion.â€ť
Throughout the coming weeks, a prayer vigil will continue with people from various walks of life standing witness against abortion. It is a commitment that numerous faithful of Diocesan parishes will make throughout the Lenten Season.
Everyone is invited to take an hour to join others in prayer for an end to abortion during Lent to April 1. The prayers will take place outside Planned Parenthood, 1425 Creech Roadin Naplesdaily (except Sunday) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. For details, go to www.40daysforlife.com/naples or call 239-503-0295.
For people living in theFort Myersarea, a prayer vigil will take place March 22, beginning with 9 a.m. Mass at St. Cecilia Parish. Bishop Dewane will then lead a procession from a parking area just north of intersection of Winkler andCollege Parkwayto pray the rosary on the sidewalk near Planned Parenthood.