The fall campaign of 40 Days for Life begins on Sept. 23, and runs until Sunday, Nov. 1, with local vigils taking place in Sarasota and Fort Myers.
40 Days for Life is an internationally coordinated 40-day campaign that aims to end abortion locally through prayer and fasting, community outreach, and a peaceful all-day vigil in front of abortion businesses. For those not yet ready to be among crowds due to the pandemic, they are encouraged to pray from home and fast for the end of abortion. Others are welcome to come to the sidewalk and social distance to their level of comfort.
Diocese of Venice Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux said having prayerful witnesses in front of abortion facilities serves as a powerful message of hope for those mothers who may think abortion is the only alternative they have for their unborn child.
The Diocese of Venice has been involved with 40 Days for Life since the campaign went nationwide in 2008 with vigils taking place in the fall – to coincide with October, Respect Life Month – and in the spring – during Lent.
The success of 40 Days for Life has been seen locally when women approach vigil participants and tell their story of how their mind was changed by those present who were there to pray for their unborn child. More than 120 cases of lives being saved have been documented.
It was recently announced that Shawn Carney, President of 40 Days for Life, will be in the Diocese of Venice to support the kick-off of the campaign.
Carney will appear at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 22 for the opening prayer vigil on the sidewalk in front of the Planned Parenthood at 6418 Commerce Park Drive, Fort Myers. The evening prayer service has become an annual tradition in Fort Myers, serving a rallying point for the long 40 days ahead. The Fort Myers vigil takes place 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Saturday.
Co-Coordinator of the Fort Myers campaign, Paula Hellenbrand, said the pandemic is not keeping abortion-minded woman away from abortion facilities such as Planned Parenthood and that participation in 40 Days for Life is as important now as it has ever been.
“I have to believe that in the hard process of making this decision they are also looking for a sign that would encourage them in the right direction,” Hellenbrand said. “We are that sign. We are there to say we care. We are there praying for you and your baby and we are there to help.”
In Sarasota, the vigil is 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily outside the regional headquarters of Planned Parenthood, 736 Central Ave. Carney will appear there at 11 a.m. on the first day, Sept. 23.
Participants in the prayer vigil will be joining other like-minded individuals in communities around the nation and world. Some commit to taking part for a few minutes, an hour, or all day as they stand in the public right-of-way. Check with your Parish to learn what hours they have committed to 40 Days for Life, as many often commit to several days of prayer on the front lines.
Those interested in taking part in a local prayer vigil are encouraged to sign up in advance at www.40daysforlife.com (search for Fort Myers or Sarasota). While registration is encouraged, all are welcome to come for any amount of time they can to help save a life.
40 Days for Life Sept. 23-Nov. 1
Sarasota campaign details
When: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily,
Where: 736 Central Ave.;
Contact: Rich 40DFLSarasota@gmail.com
Fort Myers campaign details
When: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday;
Where: 6418 Commerce Park Drive;
Contact: Paula and Rick at 40DaysforLifeFM@gmail.com