National Night of Prayer for Life
By RENEE WEBB, Globe editor
Parishioners in the Diocese of Sioux City will have a chance to join in prayer with thousands throughout the country for the National Night of Prayer for Life.
This year marks the 22nd year for the annual event at the national level and the 11th year it has been offered in the Diocese of Sioux City.
Two locations in the diocese – Trinity Heights in Sioux City and St. Joseph Church in Wesley – will participate in the National Night of Prayer on Dec. 8. Both of these services will be held from 8 p.m. to 12 midnight. That date bridges the Feast of the Immaculate Conception with the Feast of Juan Diego, the day that Our Lady of Guadalupe first appeared to him.
Larry Walsh, a member of the spiritual committee at Trinity Heights, said the service will include all mysteries of the rosary, reflection, Eucharistic adoration and benediction. The service, which will also make confession available, will be held in the Marian Center.
Walsh pointed out that on Oct. 30, 2000, Trinity Heights received a letter from the bishop with information on the Night of Prayer for Life and he had asked if they might be interested in hosting the service.
“Under the leadership of Marvin Japel, we organized the first Night of Prayer Dec. 8, 2000,” Walsh said. “That same bishop is now a cardinal and chairman of the U.S. Bishops Committee for Pro-Life Activities in the United States – Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo.”
The cardinal’s suggestion, noted Walsh, helped to expand this service and now there are over 700 parishes, convents, monasteries and shrines joining in prayers to the Blessed Mother, asking her to bring about a conversion of heart for this nation as she did for the Aztec nation which stopped human sacrifice after her image – Our Lady of Guadalupe – appeared on the tilma or cloak of Juan Diego.
According to Deb Trenary of St. Joseph Parish in Wesley, they have held this service for five years.
“This prayer service is really unique as it offers four different hours of prayer for life,” she said. “It will consist of exposition and adoration to the Blessed Sacrament, 20 decades of the rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and many other special prayers, meditations and hymns, and time for private prayer. People can participate in all four hours or for one hour.”
Trenary urges people to unite their prayers with Catholics throughout the country and pray for mothers contemplating abortion, for infants dying in the wombs, for victims of euthanasia, for stem-cell research, cloning and for a change in the hearts of many people.
“A different format of prayers is used for each particular hour,” she said. “There is also time for private prayer. This is a very unique prayer experience.”
During the evening on Dec. 8, there is one hour that crosses all of the nation’s time zones when everyone is united in prayer for life.
“We need to reach out in prayer to all those mothers and fathers who are in agony because they are tempted to abort their child,” Trenary said. “We also need to pray for those parents of aborted children. So many of them suffer deep grief and regret over a choice they can never reverse. So many suffer in silence, because others tell them it’s no big deal. This is a wonderful opportunity to ask God to heal their brokenness and to show them that they are never alone.”
In the 11 years that the service has been offered in Sioux City, Walsh said some may question if it has been a fruitless effort.
“Let’s look at the record. It was just last year that the majority of those polled felt that abortion is wrong and life does begin at conception. Since the year 2004 when the very first 40 Days for Life Campaign began, it has built to this year’s 301 cities who hold prayer and witness programs at Planned Parenthood,” said Walsh, who also noted that there were 732 babies saved with this campaign, 135,000 volunteers participated and eight Planned Parenthood workers were converted. “In spite of the fact that we do have an administration that is not pro-life, we are making strides.”
There is an all-out assault on life in all stages, he said, and the most powerful weapon in defense of life is the intercession of the same Blessed Virgin that appeared to Juan Diego in 1531.
Trenary pointed out that since they recently started praying a “prayer to end abortion” following Communion at every Mass in Wesley, this special night of prayer is even more meaningful to the parish.
“We state that we will commit ourselves never to be silent, never to be passive, never to be forgetful of the unborn – and never to stop defending life until all our brothers and sisters are protected,” she said. “The Night of Prayer for Life is a great way to demonstrate this commitment.”
All people are invited to both of these services.
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