The Good Friday prayer vigil sponsored by Pro-Life Action Ministries took place today at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Highland Park. I’ve audio recorded and posted four of the reflections by Catholic clergy, and you’ll find links below. (Unfortunately, I pressed the wrong button on my iPhone voice recorder app after the Archbishop’s reflection, so I don’t have that audio.)
Planned Parenthood call for participants is posted here:
This year, we are incorporating 2 new elements to our event.
At 10am, a multi-faith, pro-choice prayer service will be open to all of our supporters. This service will last approximately 20 minutes and will include a variety of faiths. Additionally, we will be collecting food items for local food shelves; please bring a non-perishable food item to donate and Planned Parenthood will collect and deliver them.
A few of my own thoughts from the day:
I was on site on and off from 9 am until around 1 pm. The number of pro-life participants was high early on, and remained pretty steady as time went on. The Planned Parenthood contingent started off with quite a few people, but had tapered down to several dozen by noon.
Good reflections from the pastors. Beautiful weather (actually overheard one pro-lifer say “This isn’t nearly penitential enough!”). It made me wonder if the Planned Parenthood numbers would have been as impressive if the weather had not been nice; I’m thinking not, since their platform caters to convenience and comfort.
It was disconcerting to see a Christian pastor of some stripe among the Planned Parenthood crowd, identifiable by his black clerical neckband shirt…. I believe I saw him addressing them all at one point, but I didn’t hear what he said, other that to notice that he was obviously offering them encouragement for what they were doing. What kind of mental/moral gymnastics do you need to go through to get to this position?
As I was crossing the street, I overheard a conversation between a mother and her daughter (who was probably no more than eight years old). I heard the mom say to her, “When you grow up, you don’t want those people deciding for you what you can and can’t do with your body.” Parents are the primary educators of their children. Very sobering. I felt like approaching the daughter and saying, “Don’t you feel fortunate that your mom happened to decide to have you?”
I also overheard a couple of teenage girls across the street from the protest, talking to each other as they walked by. “A protest of a protest? How lame is that? Like, ‘Yes, I am proud of my right to kill my babies.’ Whatever.”
The most surreal moment in the day for me was when I was walking up the sidewalk past the Planned Parenthood crowd, and noticing that a number of the protesters brought their small dogs with them; not many of them brought children. I felt like I was back in LA for a minute. I had my rosary in one hand as I walked by, and suddenly one of these dogs charged me, going right for my rosary, not my hand. It was weird… like a little Mel Gibson satanic baby moment. That poor puppy may need some deliverance ministry. The woman who had the dog on the leash immediately pulled him back, and was very apologetic. I told her not to worry.
The Planned Parenthood supporters were boisterous and cheering, playing to the traffic as cars passed by and honked. Very different sort of demeanor from the pro-lifers. Many of the PP supporters had these brittle grins on their faces; I’ve seen this before. I don’t know exactly how to describe this brittle joy, other than to say that it gives the impression of being very fragile… even a slight wind could knock it over and it would shatter. Very different from the sober joy of those who have embraced their suffering. The spirit of this brittle joy reminds me of people who are intoxicated.. the joy of escape, I suppose you might say, rather than the joy of facing reality squarely, with the grace and mercy of Christ.
Some background on the event, from Brian Gibson of Pro-Life Action Ministries:
A quick last note regarding our All-Day Good Friday Prayer Vigil in front of Planned Parenthood’s abortuary in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul. Every year I hear back from participants of the significant deepening of their commemoration of Christ’s passion and death because of our prayer vigil. If there is any way you join with us please do. Come for an hour or two, half a day or the whole day. Come anytime morning or afternoon. I have re-listed the schedule of pastors for the day:
9:00 am. – Most Reverend John Neinstedt, Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
9:30 – Reverend Roger Barcus, Pastor of St. Paul Apostolic Tabernacle
10:00 – Reverend Andrew Cozzens, Assistant Director of the Archdiocesan Office of Worship – audio here
10:30 – Reverend Kevin Finnegan, Pastor of Divine Mercy Catholic Church – audio here
11:00 – Reverend Anthony Vanderloop, Pastor of St. Peter and St. James Catholic Churches – audio here
11:30 – Reverend James Livingston, Catholic Chaplain at North Memorial Hospital – audio here
12:00 pm – Reverend Leo Reck, Pastor of Word of Grace Baptist Church
12:30 – Reverend Christopher Kneen, Pastor of North Branch United Methodist Church
1:00 – Reverend Brian Lother, Pastor of Hope Community Church
1:30 – Reverend Thomas Parish, Administrative Pastor of Hope Lutheran Church
2:00 – Reverend Fred Thoni, Pastor of Elmwood Evangelical Free Church
2:30 – Reverend Ned Berube, Pastor of Christ Community Church
3:00 – Reverend David Fronsoe, Pastor of Evangelist Crusaders Church
3:30 – Reverend Elijah Layfield, Associate Pastor of Outreach Ministry at Bethlehem Baptist Church
3:45 – Closing Prayer — Everyone in attendance
Planned Parenthood’s abortuary is located at 1965 Ford Parkway, St. Paul, MN.