Once a month early on a weekday morning, several cars line a quiet stretch of Pontiac Street between 38th and 39th Avenues in Denver. From those cars, about 25 teenagers emerge, rosaries in hand, who then surround the perimeter of Denver’s Planned Parenthood headquarters and begin to quietly pray.
They don’t yell and scream, or hold up posters of graphic images, attempting to scare people out of entering the second largest abortion facility in the country. Their tactic is that of love, and their weapon of choice is prayer.
“Love for others is what drives us,” explained Kirsten Grandon, president of the Pro-Life Club at Denver’s Bishop Machebeuf High School that organizes the vigils. “Loving others is the best way to love the Lord … and this love must come with action.”
The simple act preaches love more than anything, she said, though at times the message is lost on passersby who harass them.
“It’s not the easiest thing, holding rosary beads at Planned Parenthood,” Grandon said. “But we’re asked to step outside our comfort zones, we’re not called to live comfortably.
“We’re called to speak out against abortion.”
Next week, Jan. 22 marks 41 years since Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States. Since that ruling, it is estimated 56.9 million babies have died nationwide through abortion. The issue has divided the country like few others, and every day countless people pray that it will end—including many who feel called to pray near the clinics themselves.
“Some chose to align with the sufferings of Christ next to the greatest place of spiritual battle,” explained Lynn Grandon, Kirsten’s mother and director of Lighthouse Women’s Center across the street from Planned Parenthood, and program director for Respect Life Resources of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver. “Abortion clinics have shut down because of the power of prayer, because this is a spiritual battle. We’re battling evil … you’ve got to know your enemy.”
The enemy she refers to is the evil of abortion itself, not those seeking one.
“They have a soul too, and we have to be there to there to help them,” she continued, referring to individuals seeking abortions as well as workers employed by the industry.
In roughly the last 10 years, 44 abortion facilities across the country have shut down, 88 abortion workers have quit their jobs and 8,245 babies were saved—all attributed to the power of prayer. Specifically, during 40 Days for Life campaigns. 40 Days for Life is a national pro-life campaign, started in Texas in 2004, that includes peaceful 40-day prayer vigils outside abortion clinics twice a year. The next campaign begins March 5.
Brad Maddock, 52, had never prayed at an abortion clinic before, when his teenage daughter was asked if she would like to participate in a 40 Days for Life campaign. This was two years ago through her youth group at St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” said Maddock. “Protests? Riots? All the things you read about in the media … screaming, yelling, gory pictures?”
What he experienced was an hour of peaceful prayer that inspired him to pray there more often. He began going about once a week.
“Abortion is the biggest battle we face when it comes to battles with Satan; it affects us beyond belief,” he said. “We need people down there every day.”
Maddock is launching a campaign that builds on the 40 Days concept that he has dubbed Savers of Souls (SOS). The initiative asks for a commitment of one hour of prayer every four weeks at Planned Parenthood to cover 192 hours each month (eight hours a day, six days a week, for four weeks)—the estimated hours the facility is open for business.
“Peaceful prayer does work,” he said.
The number of abortions at Planned Parenthood nationally, according to the organization’s annual reports, has dropped: with 327,166 abortions performed in 2012; compared to 333,964 in 2011.
However, the number increased regionally: from a reported 10,505 abortions in 2012; compared to 10,408 in 2010 as reported by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains that covers Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and Nevada.
“Someday we’re going to end this battle,” Maddock said. “(And future generations) will ask: ‘What did you do? How did you help end abortion?’”
Many parishes and ministries coordinate regular prayer vigils at abortion clinics. For more information, contact your parish Respect Life committee, campus minister or parish youth group, or call Respect Life Resources of Catholic Charities at 303-742-0828. For more information about SOS, contact Maddock at 303-358-0380 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Beacon of Hope Gala
Annual benefit for Lighthouse & Women’s Services of Catholic Charities
When: March 8
Where: Wings Over the Rockies, 7711 E. Academy Blvd. No. 1, Denver
Speaker: Gianna Jessen, abortion survivor and inspiration for film “October Baby”
Ticket price: $125
Purchase tickets: www.ccdenver.org/galatickets
Table & corporate sponsorship: Call 720-377-1383
More info: www.lighthousedenver.org