The Prayer Warriors who stand vigil in front of the Planned Parenthood Regional Headquarters on Central Avenue in Sarasota were recently joined by dozens of like-minded people who stood as witnesses for life during the 25th Annual Prayer Walk for Life on Feb. 7, 2023.
Prior to the Prayer Walk, Bishop Frank J. Dewane celebrated a Mass at nearby St. Martha Parish, stressing the importance of protecting life from conception to natural death and encouraging everyone to speak out for life.
“Life has so much value,” Bishop Dewane said. “Respect the life of the unborn. Respect all life. Continue to be the voice in the wilderness. Let us speak out for life and be the witness the Lord calls us to be.”
Being a witness for life is the duty of all, the Bishop added, it is not just for those who were at the Sarasota Mass or who participated in the Prayer Walk or who are a weekly Prayer Warrior.
“We need to be sensitive; we need to evangelize; and we all need to be out speaking up for the issue of life,” Bishop Dewane said. “If you claim to be a person of love, but don’t honor the gift of life, you stand against all that Christ teaches… going against what the Church has taught for centuries. We all need to be witnesses to life.”
Among those participating was a group of young men from Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School. Bishop Dewane was impressed with the participation and encouraged them to share with their classmates what it meant to be a witness for life.
The Mooney group participated in the Mass and Prayer Walk while also receiving a tour of the Community Pregnancy Clinics, Inc. offices which sit in the shadow of Planned Parenthood. CPCI is a crisis pregnancy center and the students were shown an ultrasound image of an unborn child in 4-D while learning that when a woman sees their child, they almost always choose life.
The Prayer Walk took place on a Tuesday because that is the day surgical abortions are done. It has been well documented that the presence of people praying in front of abortion facilities makes a difference. Because of the presence of these people, women change their mind comforted in the knowledge that someone cares about their unborn child. Others take the literature or listen to the Prayer Warriors who offer counseling and when convinced to choose life the necessary support is just a few feet away.
This was the 25th Annual Prayer Walk for Life in Sarasota, which had traditionally taken place in late January to correspond to the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision which paved the way for the legalization of abortion in the U.S. While Roe was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2022, the issue is now based on state law, where in Florida abortion is legal up to 15 weeks. Much more work needs to be done in Florida and beyond to ensure each child is protected.
As one regular Prayer Warrior explained to someone participating in the Prayer Walk: “This won’t be over until we save every child.”
Anne Clifford participates in the 40 Days for Life campaigns in the spring and fall with her Parish (Incarnation in Sarasota), but is now compelled to do more.
“Being here on ‘Abortion Day’ is different and heartbreaking,” Clifford said. “My heart goes out to each woman who enters that monstrosity of a building. These women need to know we love them. That Jesus loves them. Knowing our presence can help mothers choose life is an awesome opportunity and I will be here as often as I can.”
To help get a strong start for the spring 40 Days for Life prayer campaign in Sarasota (Feb. 22 to April 2), a special kickoff event is taking place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Feb. 18, at the Church of Saint Patrick, 7900 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota. The day begins with Mass and Holy Hour followed by speakers. The cost to attend is $10 and includes lunch. Registration is required at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/spring-kickoff-event-love-and-truth-are-winning-tickets-517080099497 by Feb. 10 as space is limited. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
For more information about the Sarasota 40 Days for Life spring campaign, please check with your local Parish, or visit www.40daysforlife.com/sarasota.