Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
18 Feb 2010
Volunteers from across regional NSW are arriving in Sydney to take part in 40 Days For Life, the Lenten prayer vigil that hopes to end abortion across Australia.
As many as 250 Sydneysiders of all ages attended the Mass on Tuesday night, 16 February, at St Patrick's Catholic Church in Surry Hills celebrated by Fr Peter Joseph to launch the campaign. Then after a Shrove Tuesday supper of pancakes, the Catholic pro-lifers joined in the candlelight procession led by three accolytes and attended by Fr Joseph, Capuchin friar, Br Robert Stewart and Fr William Milstead and parish priest at St Peter's Church. The procession made its way at 11 pm through the streets of Surry Hills to the Preterm Foundation at the corner of Randall and Elizabeth Streets.
The Foundation is one of Sydney's oldest abortion clinics and it is here the non-stop prayer and fasting vigil will be held throughout the 40 days of Lent.
"We will be there 24/7 and by the end of Lent this will represent 960 hours of prayer for Australia's unborn children and their mothers and fathers," says Marcel White, communications director for the anti-abortion campaign.
Volunteers will keep up the vigil throughout the day and night until Easter Sunday.
"We thought the hardest part would be getting volunteers to keep vigil at different times throughout the night, but the response for those hours has been terrific," says Marcel.
Instead of midnight until dawn, when volunteers will gather at the chapel the campaign has set up in a unit directly opposite the Preterm abortion clinic, the campaign says the hardest hours to fill have turned out to be between 2 and 6 pm.
"That's when we need volunteers to join in the prayer vigil," says Marcel adding mornings pose no problem as students have volunteered to take part before their classes begin at uni. "But in the afternoon many are in classes or doing shift work so finding people to be part of the vigil at that time is more difficult."
Marcel and others in the campaign are now appealing for people to come forward and help out during the afternoon.
"We aim to have at least four people keeping up up our peaceful prayer vigil around the clock and although the wee small hours have not been difficult to fill, afternoons may become a problem. So if anyone is interested in taking part on any afternoon during Lent, please get in touch," he says.
The 40 Days for Life Campaign began as a small grassroots movement in Texas in 2004 and was held for the first time in Australia in Brisbane last year.
This year the campaign is simultaneously taking place in Canada, USA, Ireland, Britain and Australia with vigils in this country being held throughout Lent in Melbourne and Brisbane as well as Sydney.
"By next year we hope all of Australia's capital cities will be involved," Marcel says.
This Sunday, those taking part in the peaceful vigil as well as anyone who opposes abortion and wishes to pray for the unborn child, can take part in a procession being led by through Sydney's streets by Bishop Julian Porteous, the Archdiocese of Sydney's Episcopal Vicar for Renewal and Evangelisation, and patron of Sydney's first-ever 40 Days for Life Lenten campaign.
"As a society we cannot allow ourselves to accept the fact abortion is acceptable because we would be taking the view that human life is expendable," says Bishop Porteous.
Explaining that on the third Saturday of every month, the Helpers of God's Precious Infants co ordinate a prayer vigil, Marcel says as this falls within the 40 days for Life Lenten Campaign, the prelate agreed to lead a procession after a Holy Mass at St Maroun's Cathedral in Redfern on Saturday morning, 20 February.
The Mass at the Maronite Cathedral in Redfern will be celebrated at 8am and at 9.am the procession led by Bishop Porteous will make its way through to the Preterm abortion clinic in Surry Hills where an hour's prayerful vigil will be take place before those taking part, re-group in a procession back to the Cathedral where they will join Bishop Porteous for morning tea in the St Marouns' courtyard.
To volunteer to take part in the peaceful prayer vigil against abortion any time over the next 40 days, and for details about Saturday's procession, log on to www.40daysforlife.com/sydney/