Worshippers gathered Feb. 17 for a Mass in anticipation of the 40 Days for Life campaign, which began March 1.
Portland Archbishop Alexander Sample, celebrant for the Mass, called the night a spiritual and prayerful kickoff for the campaign.
“It does my heart great good to see all of you who have come out to prayerfully begin this vigil in defense of unborn … preborn life,” said the archbishop.
Archbishop Sample thanked the crowd for being a witnesses to life and acknowledged the challenges of participating in the campaign.
“You don’t always receive a warm welcome. And it is to your credit that you stand in the defense of life even in the face of ridicule and shame,” he said.
“You are not ashamed. You are not ashamed to stand with our Lord. You are not ashamed to witness to our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ. You are not ashamed to witness to the truth, the truth of the dignity of every human person, especially the most vulnerable among us — the preborn child,” he told the worshippers.
Six additional priests concelebrated the Mass with Archbishop Sample: Father Lucas Laborde, pastor at St. Patrick Parish; Father Matthew Libra, associate director for life activities for the Archdiocese of Portland and administrator at St. Rose Parish; Father John Boyle, pastor at St. Stephen Parish and director of the Archdiocese of Portland Tribunal; Father Eric Andersen, parochial vicar at St. Stephen; Jesuit Father Cyril Whitaker; and Holy Cross Father Charles McCoy.
The archbishop encouraged those gathered not to lose heart or be discouraged. “Be filled with hope and courage as you bear witness to the truth in Christ on behalf of these children,” he told them.
The 40 Days for Life campaign began March 1 and runs until April 9. The vigil will be taking place at Planned Parenthood’s regional headquarters in Portland on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Vigil keepers will stand outside the location from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day to pray for the women coming to the facility.
Therese Ruesink, one of the organizers for Portland’s 40 Days for Life, says that participants in the campaign know of at least 75 babies since 2008 in the Portland and Beaverton areas whose lives have been saved because of the vigil. Ruesink still sees some of those children.
Ruesink says the campaign is grateful for the archdiocesan support and the Mass celebrated by Archbishop Sample.
“[It] gives us powerful protection on the front lines of the spiritual battle for life,” she said in an email.