Family tradition: Rosary vigil on Good Friday for the unborn

by Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

North Texas Catholic

April 19, 2017

FORT WORTH — When Pat Pelletier and her late husband, Chuck, held the first local prayer vigil outside an abortion clinic 33 years ago, they were joined by a few like-minded pro-life supporters who brought their families, rosaries, and candles to the evening gathering.

Today, the annual Rosary Vigil for Life, held every Good Friday, attracts several hundred parishioners from across the diocese. Led by Bishop Michael Olson, young and old participants lined the sidewalks outside Planned Parenthood on a sunny April 14 afternoon to meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary and pray for babies lost to abortion.

Organizer Bobby Warren says the vigil offers a voice of prayer to the unborn who don’t have a voice.

“This is an especially poignant day for that to happen as we meditate on the crucifixion,” explained the St. Patrick parishioner. “We’re out here on the sidewalk as a visible, prayerful presence to remember the death of Christ and those babies who lose their lives in the abortion [clinic].”

A handful of sidewalk counselors pray in front of the clinic every week, especially when abortions are performed.

“But this day brings out a special group of people,” Warren added, referring to the many families with young children in the crowd. “It’s important to be in prayer on Good Friday.”

Several parents pushed strollers or carried toddlers to the outdoor service. Jennifer and Jake McAfee brought one-month-old John and his older siblings Catherine and Joseph.

More than 300 people lined the sidewalks outside a local abortion center on Good Friday to pray for an end to abortion. (NTC photo/Joan Kurkowski-Gillen)


“I hope bringing them here shows parents-to-be the beauty of childhood,” said Jennifer, a St. Maria Goretti parishioner. “We’ll continue to do this as they get older.”

Dawn Booth and her five children have attended the Rosary vigil for the past three years and regularly participate in 40 Days for Life. Every fall, the 24-hour 40 Days vigil unites faith communities around the world in prayer to end abortion. The family works fill-in shifts outside Planned Parenthood.

“We’re here different days of the week and different times of the day during 40 Days so my children know what this is all about,” said the St. Bartholomew parishioner. “Being here out here on Good Friday is especially meaningful.”

After reading about the Rosary vigil in the church bulletin, Martha Chavez brought two friends to the service.

“We’re here to pray for innocent babies, their mothers, and fathers,” the St. George parishioner explained. “But it’s important to do that every day.”

And many in the pro-life movement believe their prayers are being answered. Recent pro-life bills under consideration by the 85th Texas Legislature have buoyed the spirits of those working in respect life ministries.

Bishop Michael Olson leads hundreds of parishioners in praying the Rosary at the Rosary Vigil for Life. (NTC photo/Joan Kurkowski-Gillen)

Pat Pelletier, co-director of the Mother and Unborn Baby Care Center, said “For the first time since we started this (the vigil), I see a possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned,” referencing the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. “Just given the hope that abortion may someday be illegal is unbelievable. It could happen in our lifetime and I never expected that.”

If abortion becomes illegal, the help available at the pregnancy crisis center she founded with her late husband in 1984 would become more critical.

“There will be even more women who need our support,” she suggested.

Ninety percent of women considering abortion who visit the Mother and Unborn Baby Center opt to continue their pregnancies.

“We help them see a future with their baby. Nobody wants to have an abortion,” Pelletier admitted. “But it’s a necessity in the minds of these girls.”

Several members of the Pelletier family attended the vigil again this year.

“It’s nice to see it continue even though Dad’s passed away,” said son John Pelletier. “It’s one of the most important things during the year to show support for the pro-life movement.”

FORT WORTH — When Pat Pelletier and her late husband, Chuck, held the first local prayer vigil outside an abortion clinic 33 years ago, they were joined by a few like-minded pro-life supporters who brought their families, rosaries, and candles to the evening gathering.

Published (until 12/27/2035)
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