March 25, 2020, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, was the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of Evangelium Vitae, or “The Gospel of Life.” This beautiful encyclical written by Pope Saint John Paul II speaks clearly about the intrinsic value of human life. In an effort to celebrate the 25th anniversary, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops launched an initiative titled Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service. The National Council of Catholic Women, of which I am a member, happily got on board with this.
And then the pandemic hit.
Now, to the credit of many parishes and women’s groups, some people did find ways to promote prolife efforts in their parishes. However, for many of us, a group effort or project wasn’t feasible. The USCCB decided wisely to extend the program now that more Churches are open and some parish groups have started gathering again. I believe the tag, A Year of Service, has been removed because this effort needs to be ongoing.
The three commissions of the National Council of Catholic Women, Spirituality, Service, and Leadership, held a member call via Zoom to NCCW members last week. As a member of the Spirituality Commission, I was blessed to give our portion of the presentation on how we can Walk with Moms in Need. My years of work as the Executive Director of Women’s Care Clinic gave me a variety of experiences and ideas to share, and I couldn’t help but be excited! It was like coming home again. I shared many ideas, but my main emphasis was on prayer in a very particular form: 24-hour prayer vigils.
This concept is not original, but having witnessed the fruits this approach brings, I wanted to emphasize it. I’ll add that the first time our local ministry did this was in response to a plea for prayer from my friends and colleagues at the National Institute of Family & Life Advocates (NIFLA.) Select a date, then line up prayer partners for every hour of the day, midnight to midnight. If possible, have people come to the same location, such as your church or parish hall. Even better, if there is a local prolife center that has space, see if you can pray on site. (This is what we did.) Bathe the space in prayer! Pray for women to choose life. Pray for men to be present and supportive. Pray for staff and volunteers of pregnancy help ministries in your area. Pray for elected officials to develop laws that protect unborn humans (we need LOTS of prayer for this!) I referred to this as a laser-beam approach. Sure, there are many causes related to the dignity of human life. But for this initiative, how good it would be for us to zero in with intentionality.
It is important to continue donating diapers and baby items to help moms. Financial support of life-affirming ministries is also a key to ensuring their doors stay open and their services continue. But, in my view, the most important thing we can do to Create a Culture of Life, is to pray without ceasing! If you’d like to know more details about how we set up these prayer vigils, let me know below. I would be happy to help you and your community Walk with Moms in Need!