Local Ministries

Archbishop praises witness of 40-day effort

Nearly 100 people from both Kansas and Missouri participated in the kickoff rally for the fall campaign of 40 Days for Life. The fall prayer vigil began Sept. 28 and continues until Nov. 6. Between the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., volunteers will take turns praying on the public right-of-way in front of an abortion clinic located at 4840 College Blvd. in Overland Park. This marks the 11th year the Kansas City Coalition for Life has participated in 40 Days for Life. The closing rally will be held Oct. 29 at 10 a.m. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MARC ANDERSON

by Marc and Julie Anderson

OVERLAND PARK — Close to 100 people from across the region gathered on Sept. 25 on the public right-of-way in front of the Center for Women’s Health here for a prayer vigil that served as the kickoff for the next 40 Days for Life campaign which started Sept. 28 and continues through Nov. 6. During the vigil, volunteers will pray on the same public right-of-way from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Since its founding in 2004 in Bryan/College Station, Texas, 40 Days for Life has grown to international proportions. This year’s fall campaign will include more than one million volunteers and occur in 622 cities in “an internationally coordinated 40-day campaign that aims to end abortion legally through prayer and fasting, community outreach and a peaceful all-day vigil in front of abortion businesses.” 

Residents of both Kansas and Missouri participated in the kickoff rally for the fall campaign of 40 Days for Life. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MARC ANDERSON

Within the Kansas City metro area, the Kansas City Coalition for Life serves as one of the main sponsors of the local campaign and has been participating in 40 Days for Life since at least 2011. Although there are now at least three abortion clinics within the metro and all are included in the 40 days of prayer, fasting and community outreach, the vigil will be held in front of the Center for Women’s Health mainly because it is the clinic involved in the 2019 Hodes v. Nauser decision in which the Kansas State Supreme Court ruled the state constitution contains “a fundamental right to abortion.”

As part of the vigil, the bishops from both sides of the state line offered their thoughts on the importance of the fall campaign.

Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph said, “Even though we had the great blessing of having Roe v. Wade, the Roe decision overturned, we learned we can’t be complacent. We have to continue to be vigilant and to be witnesses for the gift of human life and to shed light in the darkness.”

A woman holds a pro-life sign at the 40 Days for Life rally on the public right-of-way in front of the Center for Women’s Health in Overland Park. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MARC ANDERSON

Near the end of the rally, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann discussed how abortion advocates “elevated their game” and that the pro-life movement needs to respond, but in a different way.

“We have to respond, but in a different way than they’ve responded,” he said. “As we begin it, let’s pray, ‘Lord, help our presence some way, somehow, speak to those that will see us and that will witness our prayer and our presence.’”

“The Lord can do amazing things,” he added, “and sometimes we get glimpses of things, but oftentimes we do not. But your faithfulness, your presence, be assured, is having an impact. It is making a difference.”

For more information about 40 Days for Life and the local campaign, visit the website at: www.40daysforlife.com/en/overlandpark.

About the author

Marc & Julie Anderson

Freelancers Marc and Julie Anderson are long-time contributors to the Leaven. Married in 1996, for several years the high school sweethearts edited The Crown, the former newspaper of Christ the King Parish in Topeka which Julie has attended since its founding in 1977. In 2000, the Leaven offered the couple their first assignment. Since then, the Andersons’ work has also been featured in a variety of other Catholic and prolife media outlets. The couple has received numerous journalism awards from the Knights of Columbus, National Right to Life and the Catholic Press Association including three for their work on “Think It’s Not Happening Near You? Think Again,” a piece about human trafficking. A lifelong Catholic, Julie graduated from Most Pure Heart of Mary Grade School and Hayden Catholic High School in Topeka. Marc was received into the Catholic Church in 1993 at St. Paul Parish – Newman Center at Wichita State University. The two hold degrees from Washburn University in Topeka. Their only son, William James, was stillborn in 1997.

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