40 Days of Life Prayer Vigil Ends

Spring Valley, March 28  — The group gathered for a prayer service at the entrance of the Pascack Plaza mall in Spring Valley on this overcast Palm Sunday afternoon was marking the end of the 40 Days for Life Campaign, forty days prayer, fasting, and peaceful activism to end abortion in America.

Their signs told it all:

“Life Begins at Conception and Ends at Planned Parenthood”

“Pray to End Abortion”

“Nothing is Impossible with God”

For forty days, they’d kept constant vigil at one of the busiest commercial intersections in Rockland, just off Route 59 at the Spring Valley Marketplace, from 9 am to 6 pm (and through the night at St. Gregory Barbarigo Church in Garnerville) — to implore God to turn our country from a culture of death to one of life, and to draw the community’s attention to the role of Planned Parenthood as one of the nation’s leading providers of abortion.

The vigil site on Perlman Drive has been the place for several prolife campaigns over the past four years because a local Planned Parenthood office is located in the mall nearby. Also, an essential part of the 40 Days vigil is to pray for those who work at Planned Parenthood that they will experience a change of heart and mind, said Eileen Peterson of Stony Point.

Father Brendan Gormley, of St. Paul’s Church in Congers, opened the prayer service by thanking the group whose witness for life on the curbside “has been praised and cursed over the past 40 days.” He was referring to the responses the vigil keepers elicited from passersby. The positive responses far outnumbered the negative, participants reported, with many people thanking them for being there or giving the thumbs-up or an encouraging beep of the horn as they drove by.

In two separate instances, women en route to Planned Parenthood actually turned away after they stopped to talk with the people who were praying at the site, and instead went to CareNet, a prolife pregnancy support organization that provides help for those with unplanned pregnancies. CareNet, providentially, is located on the other side of Perlman Drive, about 100 yards from Planned Parenthood.

Many of the participants came to pray for one hour each week, but some gave more time to the cause. Betty Selkirk stood and prayed for a four-hour time block each time. “If I could save a baby’s life, I’d stand here for 24 hours,” she said.

Betty brought to the prayer service a pink hyacinth she received from a first-grader named Aedan. She said she had it with her at the site a few days earlier and explained that as she prayed, the flowers at the curbside reminded her of the memorials seen along the roadside where someone had died in an auto accident. And that, she said, made her recall how many babies had lost their lives through abortion.

The closing prayer service was conducted by Father Brendan and Father Nicholas Callaghan of St. Catherine’s in Blauvelt. Appropriate to the vigil ending on Palm Sunday, they read from the Bible the Gospel of St. John’s account of the passion and death of Christ. Msgr. Michael McCabe, of St. Mary’ of the Assumption in Haverstraw, gave the final blessing.

Although the 40 Days of Life project has come to an end, the prolife supporters will be returning to this spot to continue to pray for women, their babies, and our country.

On Good Friday, April 2, the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants will hold a 24-hour prayer vigil from noon until noon on Holy Saturday.

And the Rosarians of Our Lady of Guadalupe pray at the site for an hour each day.