On Saturday, April 16, 2011, the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge joined some 75 people who braved the rain to pray the Rosary in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Chapel Hill. The gathering was part of the semi-annual 40 Days for Life prayer vigil, which began on Ash Wednesday and ended on Palm Sunday, April 17.
This year, in addition to the vigil in front of the Chapel Hill clinic, pro-life advocates have also prayed at clinics in Fayetteville and Wilmington. Pro-life witnesses in the Diocese of Raleigh have joined in solidarity with others throughout North America, Australia and Northern Ireland to pray the Rosary in what is the largest and longest coordinated pro-life mobilization in history. In addition to prayer, the 40 Days for Life focuses on fasting, peaceful vigil and community outreach.
Mrs. Jacqueline Bonk, Director of the Diocesan Office of Pro-Life, was present at the vigil. She explained, “The location of this year’s vigil was openly visible to the public from Highway 15-501, so it caused an impact on the community as well as debate among university students. The vigil had the effect of creating the necessary community awareness that Planned Parenthood is in the business of performing abortions, which is not only the killing of innocent and the most vulnerable,but also an injustice to women and all humanity.”
Bishop Burbidge noted that many in the group praying on Saturday were under 25. “In addition to the individuals who for many years have been vigilant witnesses on behalf of the sacredness of human life,” he said, “it gives me special hope to see so many young people here witnessing by their prayer to this cause. For them and for all of us who defend life, our hope is rooted in Christ. United to Him, we are powerful instruments who can conquer the darkness. Through Him, we believe that prayer that will change the hearts of elected officials who forge they are at the service of life; of those contemplating abortions or those who perform them and of those who fail to protect the most vulnerable in our midst.”
Above: Among those praying on Saturday were Msgr. John Wall, Pastor of the Newman Catholic Center Parish at UNC-Chapel Hill, Bishop Burbidge and Mr. Gerard Hall, Diocesan Director of Worship.
Below: The vigil was witnessed by many on busy Highway 15-501.