Bearing fruit, making progress: latest 40 Days for Life campaign concludes

A portion of this post is adapted from remarks I delivered at the closing rally for 40 Days for Life in Manchester, New Hampshire.

This has been one of those 40 Days for Life campaigns that I refuse to call a “Spring” campaign. Too darn cold and snowy. So what did we have for the closing rally? Temps in the mid-forties, and a forecast of rain. Spring rain! How good that sounded.

40 Days for Life participants in prayer
The winter/spring 2018 40 Days for Life campaign in Manchester, NH draws to a close with prayer. All photos in this post by Ellen Kolb.

I was blessed during this campaign to be able to participate in campaigns in Concord and Greenland as well as Manchester. Manchester’s sort of home base, and I’m grateful to campaign coordinator Sheila and her team. Traveling was good, though. I saw 40 Days for Life through fresh eyes as I visited different towns.

Leader of Manchester NH 40 Days for Life campaign
Sheila D. led the Manchester, NH campaign. She’s a volunteer, as are her colleagues on the leadership team.

One of the things I love about 40 Days for Life is its presence in so many cities at the same time. If I was praying at 7 a.m. in Manchester, even with just one other person, I knew we were praying and witnessing in solidarity with many other people.

We have good days – a conversation with a woman considering abortion, a “save,” maybe just a smile from a passerby – and bad days when we feel “what’s the point?” When that happens, remember that peaceful, consistent pro-life witness during 40 Days for Life is touching people not involved with the facility outside which we stand. The neighbors see us. So do the driver of the school bus rumbling down Pennacook Street, and the woman walking to the Rite-Aid on the corner, and the guy sweeping the streets. There’s no telling when or where or how peaceful witness will bear fruit.

We all know that it’s not bearing fruit at the State House at the moment. March was a discouraging month, legislatively. It would be easy for me to focus on that. Culture is about more than politics, though.

This was brought home to me at a recent hearing in Concord, where I met someone just getting started in pro-life work. At the same hearing was an old friend who’s been in the vineyard with me, so to speak, for about 30 years. The three of us got to talking. My new friend asked us if New Hampshire had made any pro-life progress over the years.

I felt like a know-it-all fifth grader. Ooh! Ooh! I know this one! I got ready to launch into a sixty-second rant about how terrible our laws are relative to the right to life. As I drew breath to start, though, my old friend said, “oh yes, definitely.” Knocked me right off my soapbox. New friend and I exclaimed at the same time, “what do you mean?”

My old friend then laid down a bit of truth that put politics in its place. “Thirty years ago, there were seven crisis pregnancy centers in the state. Now, there are 30 places, pro-life places, where women can go.”

Think about that. Thirty places. And they’re not just about crisis pregnancies, either. For example, what does every center publish on its wish list for donations? Toddler-size diapers and training pants. So much for only caring about babies until they’re born. And for moms and dads, many centers offer parenting classes and assistance with job-hunting. Some places offer housing for pregnant and parenting women who would otherwise be homeless.

Each of the 30 places began with one person seeing a need. It takes a team to open and sustain a pro-life project, but each one starts with a single person with compassion and vision. Think of that next time you’re in prayer, alone, wondering if you can make a difference. Yes, you can.

We begin laying the groundwork for the Fall campaign today. Let’s spread the news. If you have pro-life friends, if you’re in a service group or prayer circle, if you have a podcast, if you are part of any pro-life organization that needs a speaker, invite someone on the 40 Days for Life leadership team. I’m saying this without consulting any of them, but I feel safe in saying that they would welcome the chance to tell more people about what 40 Days for Life is about.

I want those team leaders to get so many speaking engagements that they can’t keep up. Let them get mad at me for putting them in that predicament. It’ll be worth it.

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A 40 DFL Challenge!

I just subjected myself (and my Facebook followers) to five minutes on-camera to throw down a modest challenge. The next 40 Days for Life campaign is hours away. In New Hampshire, three campaigns are going on, with plenty of vigil hours open for your participation.

And so: for every new 40 DFL signup between publication of this post and midnight on Saturday, February 17 (late Friday night/early Saturday morning) for one of the New Hampshire campaigns, I’ll match it with an hour of vigil myself, up to a maximum of 10 hours in Manchester, 10 in Concord, and 5 in Greenland.

You don’t have to be a new participant, although I expect this will draw some first-timers who are committed to the 40DFL mission, including the Statement of Peace that is integral to the campaign. If you sign up tonight to add an hour to your existing 40DFL schedule, that will count toward the challenge.

New to 40 Days for Life? Read all about it and its mission of peaceful pro-life witness at 40daysforlife.com. Look for the “locations” link at that site to find out more about the New Hampshire campaigns. There are Facebook pages for each campaign as well.

Don’t want to keep vigil alone? If you want a partner, contact your local campaign via Facebook or the campaign’s 40DFL page.

For Your Weekend Calendar: 40 Days for Life N.H. Kickoff Rallies on Sunday

Make plans to attend a rally in your area to launch the next 40 Days for Life campaign. Manchester and Concord campaigns are having a joint rally at 2 p.m. on Sunday, February 11 at Ste. Marie’s Church (Montminy Hall) in Manchester. Same date & time in Greenland, beginning at the town offices on Portsmouth Avenue and proceeding along the sidewalk to the nearby Lovering Center.

40dfl greenland kickoff40DFL Manchester kickoff

 

Top Posts 2017, Part 2: a Hard-Fought Victory

Part one is at this link.

Here are the blog’s top five posts, measured by number of views. We’ll do it like a pageant…runners-up first, ending with the winner.

#5: New Hampshire House Approves Fetal Homicide Bill

State House, Concord NH

Not to put any spoilers in here, but SB 66 – the fetal homicide bill – was the most closely-watched bill of the year in Concord, as far as Leaven for the Loaf’s readers were concerned. You’ll see more about this further along in the list.

This post documents the intense debate and five votes that went into House passage of SB 66.

 

#4: Pro-life Women Disinvited from Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

There was a Women’s March in Washington in January (how quickly we forget!), and pro-life women were told to stay home and behave themselves. Well, no, we weren’t told to behave – just to stay away.  Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa of New Wave Feminists refused to take that particular order.

 

#3: 40 Days for Life Local Opening Events

Readers wanted news about the spring 2017 40 Days for Life campaigns. The team in Greenland, New Hampshire continued its faithful witness, while campaign leader Beth Gaby brought 40DFL back to Concord.

The next 40 Days for Life campaign begins February 14, 2018.

40 Days for Life vigil, Concord NH
Final vigil hour, 40DFL Spring 2017, Concord NH

#2: New Contact Information for Federal Reps

The 2016 federal election left readers ready to stay in touch with New Hampshire’s solidly pro-abortion federal delegation. Don’t let up! Maybe it’s time to invite them to the March for Life in Concord or Washington (or Concord AND Washington) so they can broaden their horizons a bit.

 

#1: Governor Signs Fetal Homicide Law as Families Look On

This one left all of 2017’s other posts in the dust. I wasn’t the only one to rejoice in the signing of a fetal homicide law, almost two decades after the first such bill was introduced in Concord. Sarah and Griffin’s Law was named for two children whose families simply would not quit working for the law.

Families celebrate passage of N.H. fetal homicide law
Moms Deana Crucitti & Ashlyn Rideout (front); dads Nathan Crucitti & Daniel Kenison (rear middle & right) after SB 66 was signed into law.

Governor Chris Sununu followed through on his commitment to sign fetal homicide legislation if it came to his desk. He had plenty of company as he did the deed.

Gov. Sununu signs SB 66
Gov. Chris Sununu signs SB 66, New Hampshire’s fetal homicide law

I went to the State House for the signing ceremony, unsure if I could get in. I had been told it would be a quiet event in the Governor’s office. Didn’t work out that way. Griffin Kenison’s extended family was there, several generations deep. The Crucitti family was there. The elected officials who doggedly persisted in seeing the bill through were there. The festivities were moved to the Executive Council chamber to accommodate the crowd.

I told Griffin’s great-aunt that day that I had just about given up on ever seeing a fetal homicide law in New Hampshire. I’ll never forget the look she gave me as she said, “Shame on you.” She was right. Her family’s hope and persistence will inspire me for a long time to come.

N.H. Student Pro-Life Essay Contest Underway

I’m pleased to share this announcement from the New Hampshire Knights of Columbus.

Respect Life Essay Contest

ATTENTION STUDENTS!

The NH Knights of Columbus is once again sponsoring a Student Respect Life Essay contest. The contest is open to any Junior High School (grades 6,7,8) and Senior High School (grades 9,10,11,12) student in New Hampshire. The NH Knights of Columbus will make up to six cash awards of $100.

The theme: ”How would you respond to claims that Pro-Life denies a woman’s ‘choice’?”

DEADLINE: Midnight, December 15, 2017

RULES: Essays may not be longer than 500 words; typed, and submitted as a PDF or Word Document via email to matu19@comcast.net. Include student name, age, grade, school, parent name and address, phone, parish and email.  Students may obtain help & information, including from parents, teachers, friends, and internet but the essay itself must be their own work.

Further contest details may be obtained from KofC NH contest chairman John P. Matuszewski (603-434-4098) or KofC NH State Pro-Life Chairman Ron Distasio (603-595-7837).



Editor’s Note: As long as we’re looking at opportunities for students, check out the 40 Days for Life app, available on the iTunes App Store and Google Play. Within the app is information about the $4040 College Scholarship available from 40 Days of Life. Full-time graduate or undergraduate students who are involved in the pro-life movement are eligible to receive the scholarship. Application deadline is December 15, 2017.