BY LINDA BEHRENS | Contributing writer
“The Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade is, without question, an answer to prayer,” begins the September 2022 statement by Archbishop William E. Lori Chairman, USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
In the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the U.S. Supreme Court returned the issue of abortion to be decided by the people’s elected representatives. In Illinois, abortions are still legal.
For pro-life supporters in Illinois, Feb. 22-April 2, March 21 and April 15 are all significant upcoming dates in the Diocese of Belleville, with events offering opportunities for prayer and discussion on the issues surrounding abortion.
According to the Illinois March for Life website, in the last six years, lawmakers in Springfield, Illinois, passed the Reproductive Health Act, which allows abortion through all nine months; the removal of health inspections of abortion clinics and more (2019); HB 40 Taxpayer Funding of Abortion (2017); and the repeal of parental notification (2021).
As a result, at least four regional abortion clinics have been built in Illinois near the borders of Missouri, Wisconsin and Indiana since 2018.
“Two abortion clinics recently have opened in Carbondale,” says Mary Fleming, coordinator of Respect Life Apostolate for the diocese. “And a third one is coming. Planned Parenthood is renovating a building in Carbondale.”
She shares that the City Council in Carbondale has enacted restrictions regarding how the distribution of literature or standing in peaceful protest near medical facilities are handled.
40 Days for Life
From Feb. 22 to April 2, the visible, public centerpiece of 40 Days for Life is a focused, 40-day prayer vigil outside a Planned Parenthood center or other abortion facility.
It is a peaceful and educational presence. Those who are called to stand witness during this 12- or 24-hour-a-day presence send a powerful message to the community about the tragic reality of abortion.
“A multi-denominational, Christian group of 10 pro-life leaders are planning our vigil at the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Fairview Heights,” Fleming says.
A minimum of two volunteers are needed for one-hour shifts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. The location is 317 Salem Pl.
“In one week’s time, we had volunteer commitments for 19 of the 40 days,” Fleming says.
If you would like more information about adopting a day during the Spring Campaign, email [email protected] or visit www.facebook.com/FVH40Days.
Illinois March for Life
On Tuesday, March 21, the Illinois March for Life rally will be held near the state capitol building in Springfield.
Since 2013, the march’s vision has been to call upon religious, civic and community leaders to renew every effort to build a nation that affirms the authentic dignity of women and men, the gift of children, and a culture dedicated to protecting life at every stage of development in law and love.
“The march previously was held in Chicago,” Fleming says. “But in order to call upon civic leaders in Springfield, the march was moved to a weekday in March when state lawmakers are at the capitol.”
She adds, “Rallying and marching when state lawmakers are present significantly increases the impact on lawmakers.”
The day begins at 10 a.m. with Mass at Sangamon Auditorium (the University of Illinois Springfield Performing Arts Center).
Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield will preside. Bishop Michael McGovern from the Diocese of Belleville will participate, along with the bishops from each archdiocese or diocese in Illinois.
At 11 a.m., a rally will be held at the Capitol Building, 401 S. 2nd Street. At noon, a march around the Capitol Building will begin.
From noon to 5:30 p.m., Eucharistic Adoration will take place in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 524 E. Lawrence Ave.
Fleming has invited the parishes and Catholic schools in the diocese to participate. At this time, the three Catholic high schools have agreed to send students. She hopes seventh and eighth grade classes will join them in Springfield as a spiritual field trip.
For more information, visit illinoismarchforlife.org.
Celebration of Life Mass
At 9 a.m. Saturday, April 15, Bishop McGovern will preside at a Celebration of Life Mass at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Fairview Heights.
“This parish in Fairview Heights was selected for the Celebration of Life Mass because Planned Parenthood is located in this city,” Fleming says. “We hope Catholics from around the diocese will attend.”
Respect Life Ministry
The mission of the Office of Respect Life Apostolate is to inform and promote the principle that human life, at all stages from conception to natural death, is a gift from God, worthy of respect and protection.
The Respect Life Apostolate invites everyone in the Diocese of Belleville to get involved, to begin or continue discussion regarding pro-life issues and to participate in these prayerful activities.
The Office of Respect Life is a resource for finding the latest updates on upcoming events, facts and statistics on life issues. Resources may be found by visiting www.diobelle.org/respectlife.
For more information, contact Mary Fleming at [email protected]