PROVIDENCE — Dozens of Rhode Islanders joined Bishop Thomas J. Tobin for a procession from the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul to the Providence Planned Parenthood clinic to kick off the 40 Days for Life Lenten prayer campaign on Wednesday, February 14. The march followed Ash Wednesday Mass and was accompanied by a police escort and the Ancora Women’s Mobile Care Center as pro-life advocates took to the streets to voice their prayerful support for all human life.
“Thank you so much for being here on this blessed day and keep up your very, very good work on behalf of life,” said Bishop Tobin as the crowd gathered outside Planned Parenthood to pray the rosary and sing hymns.
“You know, when Planned Parenthood moved over here, they didn’t realize it would just make it easier for us to come and picket and pray, so that’s a blessing too,” he added.
The Planned Parenthood clinic moved to its current location on Broad Street, across the highway from the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, from its previous location in the spring of 2017. While pro-life Catholics have taken the opportunity to continue their advocacy at the new location, not everyone was pleased with the new neighbor of the historic cathedral that serves as the center of the church in Rhode Island.
“I think it’s a scandal that it’s within eyesight of the cathedral, so I’m delighted that the bishop is leading this walk today,” said Maryann Leonardo, a parishioner at St. Martha’s Church, East Providence, who joined the procession following Mass.
“I’m a mother of five, so I’m well aware from sonograms, from psychology, from biology that it’s human life from the moment of natural birth to natural death, and I just came out here to be a witness to that,” she added.
40 Days for Life is a national prayer and advocacy campaign that is locally sponsored by the diocesan Office of Life and Family and Rhode Island Right to Life. According to Life and Family Coordinator Carol Owens, the emphasis is on peaceful prayer and fasting and the conversion of hearts during Lent. Participants plan to set up prayer vigils outside the Providence location on weekdays and Saturdays from Ash Wednesday until Palm Sunday on March 25.
“God used the number forty in scripture to bring about a change, a conversion of heart and mind,” Owens told Rhode Island Catholic following the procession. “Hence, during our Lenten 40 Days for Life campaign, we pray for an end to the holocaust of our time – abortion. If we come together to pray for an end to abortion, especially the rosary, we can be the victors of this spiritual battle against the intrinsic evil of abortion because we have Jesus with us always.”