Fr. John Baumgardner (left) and Fr. Patrick Magnor attended a prayer service Oct. 6 in front of Affiliated Medical Service. Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki led prayers to end abortion as part of 40 Days for Life. (Photo by Tim Townsend)
A five-week pro-life campaign was launched in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Sept. 23 as the Catholic Church celebrates Respect Life Month, the annual October observance that focuses on upholding human dignity for all stages of life.
About 45 prayerful participants gathered in front of Affiliated Medical Services for a candlelight vigil organized by 40 Days for Life. The global movement, which is active in 63 countries since its founding in 2007, advocates for an end to abortion through prayer, fasting, vigils and community outreach.
According to Dan Miller, executive director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, approximately 125 abortions are performed each month at the downtown site, which does not include all of the abortions that occur each month at the five Planned Parenthood sites in the city.
“In 2018, there were 2,529 abortions per year in Milwaukee County, compared to 2,448 in 2014 in the county,” he said. “Unfortunately, the numbers are trending up slightly by 3 percent.”
Volunteers pray in shifts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and each participant signs a statement of peace found on the online vigil calendar at 40daysforlife.com/Milwaukee.
On Oct. 6, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki joined other volunteers in front of Affiliated Medical Services to lead prayers to end abortion. He said it was a privilege to join his voice with the others with the hope of saving the lives of millions of preborn babies.
“One of the most important things we can do as Catholic witnesses to the beauty of life is to pray in solidarity with those who advocate for the unborn,” he said. ”40 Days for Life rightly calls our attention to those who are denied the most basic human right in our society – the right to life.”
Miller said they reach out to the archbishop’s office during each campaign to schedule some of his time to pray with the volunteers.
“We have been very blessed to have Archbishop Listecki, who recognizes the personhood of the preborn child right from the very moment of conception and is so willing to proclaim that truth by leading us in the rosary to end abortion,” he said. “No other prayer recognizes the plight of the preborn person better than the Hail Mary, because Jesus, true God and true man, humbled himself to come into the world as a defenseless baby. Mary and Joseph had to protect him in the womb and out of it. As we all know, Jesus did not become a person after he was born. He became the word made flesh at the very beginning of life, at his divine conception, one of the three persons in the Trinity.”
Miller added that just as our nation fought for the personhood of Black Americans from the bondage of slavery, 40 Days for Life and other pro-life organizations fight to protect the always innocent preborn babies as legal persons inside the womb.
“They should be protected like you and me under the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” he said.
The effectiveness of daily prayer for the preborn is magnified exponentially when clergy join in the prayer efforts, said Miller, who added that it is proof that what they do is a spiritual battle against evil.
“Who could better fight demons in that realm than God’s ordained sons? Archbishop Listecki still holds the record with six babies saved in one day after he prayed with us a few campaigns ago,” he said. “That should also tell every Catholic that there is a hierarchy in the spiritual world. The prayers of an archbishop are extremely powerful. Thank you, Archbishop Listecki for being pro-life and willing to walk with us in the journey to protecting every preborn child with personhood status.”
Currently, the number saved in Milwaukee so far during the campaign is 26 at Affiliated Medical Services, 1428 N. Farwell Ave. The international total so far is 222, which gives Milwaukee slightly more than 10 percent of the total of babies saved from abortion.
“We are always in the top internationally,” Miller said. “We work very hard. It is tiring and grueling. We do two campaigns each year for a total of 80 days, yet a little more than half of all 1,350 the babies saved from abortion since Aug. 3, 2010, were saved during a 40 Days for Life campaign. That’s a really good return on a 21 percent investment of the pro-life community’s time, which produces more than 50 percent of all the babies we are blessed to witness being saved from death by abortion all year. If someone told you that you could invest less, but get more by concentrating your investment in short, but highly concentrated bursts, wouldn’t you do that? I hope more join us and invest in life.”