March 13, 2009
TORONTO, March 11, 2009, (LifeSiteNews.com) - This coming Sunday marks the celebration of the 40 Days for Life Midpoint Mass with His Grace Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, at St Charles Borromeo Church at 3pm in Toronto.
Since its sub-zero debut on February 25th, the Toronto campaign has turned out hundreds of hardy pro-lifers from all over the city. So far, several local parishes as well as university student groups have committed to filling in the 24-hour blocks, many of them braving piercing cold and high wind to stand in solidarity with the unborn whose lives are being taken across the street. According to organizers, the public's response to the campaign has been surprising.
"One night we were praying in what felt like 40 below weather and a couple in a van stopped, rolled down the windows and asked if we wanted something warm to drink. Since then I have seen them return on a regular basis with the same offer," said one participant.
Nicole Campbell, Toronto's 40 Days for Life organizer has been impressed by the opportunities for dialogue that the campaign has afforded thus far.
A few days ago, Campbell was at the 40 Days for Life vigil site with some university students when she noticed the arrival of some pro-abortion counselors (from another abortion facility in the city) who took their stations in the place where vigilers typically counsel women going in and out of the building.
After a prolonged, calm discussion, one of the pro-abortion counselors shared that she herself was adopted and she discussed openly how she felt abandoned, even as an adult.
"It was a real eye opener for me. I saw the hurt that propelled this woman to so vigorously defend what she thought was a solution to an unwanted child," Campbell explained. "I told her that there are many couples who are unable to conceive and who would be ecstatic to adopt such a child. At the end of the conversation, the woman offered to buy us a coffee."
Last December, Campbell and several other prospective sidewalk counselors headed to Brooklyn, New York to learn the art of sidewalk counseling from Monsignor Philip J. Reilly, the founder of the Helpers of God's Precious Infants. Since its inception in 1989, The Helpers of God's Precious Infants has been faithfully present to women in need outside of abortion mills. Often referred to as the "father of sidewalk counseling," Monsignor Reilly has been a mentor to hundreds of pro-life groups around the world.
Monsignor Reilly will be visiting the Toronto 40 Days for Life Campaign on April 3rdand 4th in order to offer training in sidewalk counseling as well as bits of wisdom he has accumulated in his nearly 50 years as a pro-life activist priest in New York.
While in Toronto, Monsignor Reilly will be giving a two-part talk, the first of which will take place on the Friday evening (April 3rd) from 7pm to 9pm at the convent of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd at 25 Good Shepherd Court (just South of Lawrence Avenue West). The following morning (Saturday April 4th) at 8 am, Monsignor Reilly will be celebrating a Mass followed by a walking procession and prayer vigil outside of the abortion mill at 960 Lawrence Avenue West. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament will be available throughout at the convent for those who are unable to participate in the outdoor portion of the event. Following the vigil, Monsignor Reilly will give another talk from 10:30 am-12:30 pm.
For more information on 40 Days for Life Toronto or Monsignor Reilly's visit, please contact Campaign Life Coalition at 1-800-730-5358