A local dance troupe performed interpretive dances before the speakers came to the podium.
Karen Bodle, Pennsylvania team leader of Operation Outcry, said that the shoes the children placed on the steps are part of the international pro-life "A cry without a Voice" campaign. Each pair of children's shoes is tagged with the name of a child lost to abortion. All present were encouraged to complete a tag for an untagged pair if they knew of a such a child not yet so memorialized.
Sandy Paveglio, co-chair of Harrisburg's 40 Days for Life, was the MC for the Capitol Kick-off Rally. Unfortunately, Nancy Faller , the other local driving forcing, was not able to participate due to a pro-life conference elsewhere.
Rev. Peter Hahn, Pastor of St. Leo the Great parish in Lancaster, PA is serving as the spiritual director for this effort in the Harrisburg area. Fr. Hahn is not only a diocesan priest, but he is associated with Priest for Life. In that I felt his speech at the Capitol captured the tenor of the day, I offer it here to you:
What a joy it is to see so many of you as we have gathered here to celebrate God's most precious gift to us of life, to look out and to see that life and that love and joy of God in your hearts.
In our Catholic faith, we have received a keen insight and a clear understanding of the truth of God and of the human person. While reason alone will lead us to a level of understanding of God, faith will illuminate that understanding further. For all of us here that illumination is a special gift of our Baptism where each of us received what the Church calls the theological virtues of faith, hope and love. It is in the power and light of these virtues that we are assembled here today.
We are a people of faith given that special gift of truth knowing that God has a plan and a mission for all of us and that it is illegitimate for individuals or societies to seek to refute and oppose that plan. We believe in what has been revealed by God about the sanctity and dignity of every human person, who is, in fact, created by God in His image and likeness, destined for eternal life with Him. These are not propositions of one faith perspective against another that we wish to oppose on society. They are eternal truths - part of what is termed as "the natural law" known to the human person both in faith and in reason, which are the best for the common good of any society. And, sadly, we know that any society that seeks to oppose these truths - truths which our founding fathers knew and embodied in our Declaration of Independence and in our Constitution - goes down a path that will only and inevitably lead to destruction.
We are a people of hope that trust in the infinitely wise vision of God who sees all things as part of His divine plan of salvation. We do not despair despite the facts and the history of the national disgrace that is legalized abortion. We know that even something so obscene as this is mysteriously permitted in the Providence of God and that He is working constantly to bring good from and through it. We know the battle is His, not ours, and that despite the facts which we see that show the pervasive influence of the forces of sin and death, we know there is nothing in this world that is stronger than the power and the love of God.
We are a people of love. We have not gathered here motivated by some selfish or financial concern. We are not part of that billion dollar industry that is Planned Parenthood and all of the other abortion providers. We are simply here, some at significant cost, to try to reach out and love the unborn child and his mother whom, we must always remember, is often another victim in this tragedy, deceived and pressured at such a vulnerable time by the purveyors of death.
We pray earnestly for all who feel so helpless and afraid that they think it the only alternative. We pray for those physicians and support personnel whose eternal souls are at such great risk as they have mistakenly chosen the path of death instead of life. We continue in all of the many ways available to help all who face unplanned pregnancies and those who in the past have made this wrong decision, and now grieve and suffer because of it, praying that all who have been harmed by this horror might know God's healing and peace.
Our Lord said that He came so that we might have life and have it to the fullest. And so we long for a reawakening in the faith and in the conscience of our nation so that all might experience this gift of life and know its fullness in the light of Christ, our Lord and Savior.
The battle is fierce. Satan's work is extensive and, sadly, successful in so many instances. We know the evil that is abortion and we know Our Lord's exhortation that certain demons can only be driven out by prayer and fasting. And so we gather this day to begin 40 days of that activity.
Let us pray each day ardently and intently that this scourge of abortion may end. Let us fast, denying ourselves of material comforts to offer up to God some sacrifice to ask that His healing come to us. And let us persevere, always in the joy of the life that He gives us, knowing with absolute certainty that 2,000 years ago, on that hill outside of Jerusalem, His infinite love for us, expressed in his passion. death and resurrection, has assured final victory.
May God bless each and every one of you here for your sacrifice and your faithful witness. May He extend His mercy and forgiveness to all who have sinned so grievously against Him. and may, by His grace, our nation once again regain its moral compass and recognize the truth that faith and reason confirm of the dignity of every human person so that we might once again embrace life and provide that basic legal protection to those who are defenseless so that they too might enjoy what all of us know -- the blessings of this life now and one day, we pray, that never ending life with God in the glory of His Kingdom of heaven.
Representative Will Gabig, who because of committee duties had to hurry to a meeting after speaking to the 40 Days for Life Rally, spoke next. His main thrust was that architects of the Declaration of Independence listed the right to life as the first inalienable right - we must stand for the protection of all. He also made note of George Washington assertion that the "pursuit of happiness" was analogous to the "pursuit of virtue."
Diane Wells, South Central Regional leader of Silent No More, was joined at the podium by Karen Boswell, a member of her team. Ms. Wells told of the price her two abortions had upon her life - panic attacks, sleeplessness that alternated with horrific nightmares and two suicide attempts.
Michael Ciccocioppo, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, told of a couple whose child was saved by the presence of pro-life people outside of Hillcrest Clinic. The woman, twice in the last five years, has contacted the Pennsylvania Pro-life Federation to give thanks and tell of the impact the pro-life presence at the abortion mill made in her family's life. I hope to post the story later this week.
At its conclusion, Rally participants were encouraged to go to the site of Harrisburg's 40 Days presence - Hillcrest Abortion Clinic on Front Street.
Once there, participants were lead in prayer and song by Fr. Hahn.
Most of the people who acknowledged the presence of the prayerful did so in a positive manner: thumbs-up motioning, light taps of horns, waving. Two times menacing voices were heard from traffic - one an indistinguishable growl of sorts - the second said a sentence but the only discernible word was an angry sounding "family."
No one knew who this person was who drove this pro-lifemobile by Hillcrest multiple times. Their website, http://www.whos4life.com/, says of their organization: "Whos4life is a fun & creative, grassroots, non-profit ministry that is attempting to bring to the forefront of our state and national dialogue the issue of abortion and the future lives of millions of unborn Americans."
Look at the back of the girl's shirt - note the name. I loved that grace was with us because it is only through God's graces that our country will turn from abortion. I know, that may sound hokey, but the thought warmed my heart.
This isn't everyone present - some people were camera shy.
For information on the national/international 40 Days for Life, please click HERE.
Links to organizations mentioned in this posting - click on the name to be redirected to the site:
Post-abortion healing -www.rachelsvineyard.org/
Pregnancy help -www.birthright.org/