PROVIDENCE — The Office of Life and Family kicked off its annual celebration of 40 Days for Life on Saturday, Sept. 25, with a rally and Jericho Walk around the Statehouse in collaboration with Rhode Island Right to Life.
About 50 people embarked on the walk from St. Patrick Church to pray the rosary as they walked a 2.5-mile-long route, which circled the streets around the Statehouse three times.
Lisa Cooley, diocesan Life and Family coordinator, said it was especially important this year — with legislation passing the U.S. House last week that would allow for abortion on demand at any stage of pregnancy, even in states that don’t want it — for the faithful to stand up and be counted in their efforts to raise awareness of such threats to life.
“Politicians get to come to the pro-choice side even though they say they are pro-life,” Cooley lamented, as the group circled the Statehouse, of the tendency of many politicians who espouse pro-life beliefs to support a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion when it comes time to vote on legislation.
“We must pray and fast a lot right now, as much as we possibly can, to change those hearts with the [Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021] coming up nationally before the Senate, and then on Dec. 1, the abortion case that’s going to the Supreme Court from Mississippi.”
The 40 Days for Life campaign is built on a foundation of prayer, fasting and community outreach in support of all human life, from conception to natural death, with a special focus on spreading a pro-life message to end abortion.
“We’re in a spiritual battle right now. I hope everyone comes together over the next month and shows their solidarity to end abortion. Prayer is better together than alone,” Cooley said.
Barth Bracy, executive director of Rhode Island Right to Life, suggested to Cooley that this year they collaborate by combining a Jericho Walk with the annual 40 Days kickoff rally. He had long wanted to host the walk to raise awareness of the need to change the hearts and minds of politicians supporting abortion rights and thought this would be the perfect time to do so.
A Jericho Walk has its roots in the biblical Book of Joshua in which God commanded the Israelites to march around the walls of Jericho until they came crashing down.
In this instance, Bracy said the walk is designed to break down the walls keeping some politicians from embracing life.
“This is all about prayer and the goal of the 40 Days for Life campaign to pray for the repentance and conversion of our elected officials so that they will embrace a culture of life and promote policies to defend innocent human life from conception to natural death,” Bracy said.
He noted that while the abortions are being performed at Planned Parenthood, the reality is that the opening of abortion clinics was the result of the government’s legalization of abortion.
“Until our government repents and converts and protects innocent human life and ends the scourge of legal abortion, we’re not going to be able to close down all the abortion clinics. We’re not going to end abortion until we can end it by protecting innocent human life in our laws,” Bracy said.
He echoed a recent statement by San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, in which the archbishop said the protections for abortion afforded by the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021 — which last week passed the House but is believed to face an uphill battle in the Senate — are the type of legislation one would expect from a devout Satanist, not a devout Catholic.
“I think it goes to show what the priorities of the Democrats are at the national level,” Bracy said.
Julie Lamin, who serves as a member on the Office of Life and Family’s Rachel’s Vineyard retreat team — which presents supportive post-abortion weekend retreats for any woman, man, couple, grandparent or sibling struggling with the emotional or spiritual pain of abortion — said she turns out for as many events as possible each year that promote life.
“Anytime there is any event that we’re praying for the unborn and praying for the end of abortion I do my best to get there,” Lamin said.
“I love the Jericho Walk. It’s a sacrifice and it’s good to offer it up. I want to be a part of it.”
Lynn Normand and Kris Sularz drove up from Jamestown to take part in the 40 Days for Life kickoff.
“I have a desire to be part of the movement to raise everyone’s awareness for life and all of the events happening in our government right now. We need to show our support,” said Normand, who is a parishioner of St. Mark Church in Jamestown.
“It’s good to remind people of the focus of all of our efforts in support of women and children.”
Sularz, also a parishioner of St. Mark, said it’s important for people to do as much as they can to raise awareness of the need to protect life.
“I just feel it’s the least I can do, and I have to do something in addition to praying,” she said.
For more information and locations of the October 3 local Life Chains, Human Life Guild Day, to register for the Gloria Purvis pro-life presentation or the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, contact Lisa Cooley at 401-278-2518, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.