By Fr. Daniel Bowen, O. de M.
Saving Babies All Over America
As I mentioned in my previous article, “Why We Sidewalk Counsel,” I have been praying outside of abortuaries alongside sidewalk counselors on an almost weekly basis for several decades.
Many of my readers no doubt are wondering what a typical morning in front of such an abortion mill is like.
If you’re thinking in terms of angry crowds with picket signs, think again. It’s more like a cold war, with occasional, brief attempts at conversations with those going into the building.
Imagine this scenario:
“Hi, I’d like to give you this rosary,” one man calls out to a young couple walking toward an abortion facility. “What color would you like?”
This disarming offer is one of the most effective means to reach women and girls. They’ve been told by clinic staff on the phone that the “anti’s” will try to shove literature in their faces. Instead, they are offered a colorful religious gift of Our Lady’s beads.
Although I now pray in front of Planned Parenthood in Columbus, Ohio, here is what could be a typical morning of sidewalk counseling anywhere in the country.
Quiet Motions of Grace
Typical morning sidwalk drama:
- 6:30 am – I arrive and walk to the public sidewalk in front of Planned Parenthood on Main Street in Columbus in my white Mercedarian habit and black saturno, which is a wide-brimmed clergy hat. (I don’t know what people will make of my appearance.) Bob is already there, standing quietly with his rosary dangling from his hands. We nod to each other. There isn’t much time for chit-chat.
- 6:35 am – Several “deathscorts” arrive, get out of their cars, and beginning putting on green vests that say “clinic escort.” They will make our efforts difficult. Or maybe they don’t arrive at all, and it will be much easier to talk to people going in.
- 6:45 am – The patrons dribble in, maybe five cars in the next half an hour. The staff has scheduled appointments early to avoid our efforts. But they haven’t fooled us.
- 6:55 am – A car slowly pulls into the abortuary’s parking lot off East Main Street. Bob approaches slowly and leans over toward the driver’s door. He makes a motion to roll down the window and offers a rosary or brochure to the driver. The window inches down a bit. The driver takes it. The conversation, if any, is brief. The window goes back up and the car pulls into the lot. A sidewalk counselor attempts to call out to them through a wrought iron fence along the property line as they exit their car. The patrons, however, appear to ignore them, and walk toward the building.
- 7:45 am – By now ten cars have entered the lot. Bob and a few other counselors seem, from outward appearances, to have little success this morning. They’ve staked out the main entrance along Main Street, but they also stand in the alley behind the building. They’ve been able to get closer this way since the alley is public property. They have approached every patron who has arrived. But only one or two have paused long enough for the counselors to talk for a bit. Our efforts are quiet motions of grace.
Silent Soldiers of Mercy
- 8:00 am – A few more pro-lifers have arrived, some from a parish group, some from the Knights of Columbus. These pro-lifers are the quiet, church-going type, the silent soldiers of mercy who pray quietly as the morning drama progresses.
- 8:05 am – No more customers arrive at this point. A neighborhood passerby stops and looks at us curiously. “We’re saving babies from abortion,” we explain to him. The man nods in agreement with our work and takes one of our brochures.
- 8:30 am – I’ve been here for two hours. This is the dry point. The desert of the morning. Not much activity except for the movement of our rosary beads. We know that this is the time to be faithful. The women with their boyfriends or parents are inside, waiting for their appointments in the seats of death. Outside, there might be eight or ten pro-lifers. Keeping vigil with Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane.
- 8:35 am – No signs of any turnarounds among those who have entered. Is this failure? It may appear so. But Our Lord’s death on the cross appeared to be a defeat also – until He rose from the dead.
- 8:45 am – Unexpectedly, one couple exits the back door and walks toward their car. Wait, this might be good news. The young woman holds the brochure we gave her as she gets in the car. She looks relieved. Her boyfriend, however, looks discontented. She must have prevailed over his wishes. We know she didn’t get an abortion because the abortionist does not arrive until 9 am. Thanks be to God! She changed her mind. A life saved.
Redemption From the Slavery of Sin
Pro-life work is a redemptive act of love and aligns completely with the charism of our community, the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy. Our charism is to redeem those whose faith is threatened by being held captive by modern forms of slavery. Abortion, and the culture of self-indulgent sexuality that leads to it, is certainly a form of slavery.
Are you a single Catholic man age 18-40 interested in participating in Christ’s redemptive act of love on the cross to free others from the captivity of sin?
God may be calling you to become a Mercedarian friar.
The Mercedarians, also known as the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy, was founded in 1218 in Spain. We have friars who are priests and brothers.
In the United States, Mercedarian friars serve in parishes, prisons, hospitals, schools and other institutions in Ohio, Pennsylvania New York, and Florida. As part of our charism of redemptive love, we have a sincere devotion to Mary and to the Eucharist.
Single Catholic men age 18 – 40 who think they may have a Mercedarian vocation are invited to visit the website of the Mercedarian Friars USA. Contact me, Fr. Daniel Bowen, vocation director, at email@example.com.
Test Your Call
Why not test your call to the Mercedarian Friars and get your score.
Learn more about the Friars at these sites as well:
YouTube: Mercedarian Friars USA