40 Days for Life Campaign Begins with Encouragement
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
February 22, 2024

ROCKFORD—A group of prolife people gathered Feb. 13 for the kickoff of this year’s 40 Days for Life campaign in the Rockford area.

The event at St. Bernadette Parish featured guest speaker Steve Karlen.

Karlen got involved in the pro-life movement as a volunteer leader with the 40 Days for Life campaign in Madison, Wis. He now is campaign director for 40 Days for Life across the nation, training and helping local campaign leaders. He and his family live in Madison.

In his talk, Karlen addressed a common experience of 40 Day participants who ask themselves, “Did it make a difference?”

Two 40 Days for Life Campaigns in the
Diocese of Rockford

AURORA—The 40 Days for Life prayer vigil will be held in Aurora across from Planned Parenthood, 3598 East New York St., from Feb. 14 through March 23, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. To sign your parish up to pray, contact Beth Doroff at doroffbeth@gmail.com or the Aurora leader Philip Price at phil.price3@gmail.com

ROCKFORD—The Rockford campaign will run Feb. 14 through March 23, Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., on the sidewalk at the Rockford abortion facility at 611 Auburn St., Rockford. There is public parking on the side streets around this location. To commit to pray, contact Kevin Rilott at 815-494-0444 or kjrilott@comcast.net, or choose days and times at proliferockford.com. All are welcome to come and pray during those hours even if not signed up.

“I think 40 Days for Life is particularly close to the Lord’s heart because when you go home from your hour out at the vigil, most of the time you don’t know,” he said, then added that, “even if you haven’t seen it firsthand, something is going on.”

He shared how one 40 Days group told him that they had “never seen a saved baby,” only to discover a few minutes later that a two-year-old girl playing in the grass near them was one of those children whose mother decided not to abort when she saw the 40 Days people.

“We know right now of 24,242 lives saved,” Karlen said, adding, “those are just babies we know about … I think the real number … is much higher than that.”

Always, he said, his office hears stories about mothers, fathers and grandparents stopping and telling the 40 Days groups that “six months ago, a year ago, five years ago, as many as 14 years later somebody will come and say, ‘We came for an abortion until we saw you and your smile and your sign and your faith and your love, and we didn’t go through with it because you were here.’”

He noted that former abortion workers have reported that when there is somebody outside praying, the no-show rate for abortion appointments goes up — to as high as 75%.

Such stories, Karlen said, “are fun, but the numbers bear them out. … It’s possible that the car that drove by that gave you the finger was followed by a car occupied by a woman who was coming for an abortion until she saw: you. And she stayed right in that car and kept driving. We might not be able to add that saved baby (to the tally) but that doesn’t make that child’s life any less real, any less valuable.”

Another statistic

Those saved by the 40 Days campaigns are more than the children. “The number that gets me out of bed in the morning,” Karlen said, is the known 256 former abortion workers “who’ve experienced conversion, left their jobs and have begun a walk with the Lord in response to a 40 Days campaign.”

Number 250 “was right here in Illinois,” Karlen said. “It can happen anywhere, regardless of what your governor, your legislators are doing … I think it shows that nobody is beyond the reach of God’s grace. Nobody is beyond the reach of God’s mercy.”

He believes the root cause of the crisis in the culture is not abortion or politicians or misguided notions. “I think the root of this crisis is despair,” Karlen says, calling it “a culture that does not have hope because it is a culture that does not know Jesus Christ.”

“Tonight and for these 40 days, you are the light of Christ that shines in the darkness who is set before every woman that walks through the doors of this abortion facility (who) is carrying with her her own personal darkness. Whatever it is that leads her through those doors, we are entering into it (in prayer), bearing the light of Christ and the sign of God’s hope and of His mercy.”

He challenged those present to ask God “if He is calling you to stretch one or two steps further” to help fill up the 40 Days schedule, and he encouraged them to ask the people they know who are prolife to join in, offering to go with them for their first hour of 40 Days prayers.

“Fight the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith and continue to bring the light of Christ to those places and, more importantly, to those people who so desperately need it,” he concluded.

Local encouragements and updates

Last fall during the 40 Days campaign, the 611 Auburn Street abortuary was open only about one day a week. Prior to and following the campaign, it was open four to five days a week, said Kevin Rilott of the Family Life Initiative during his update on the abortion situation in Rockford.

He pointed out two upcoming bills in Springfield: HB 4876, which he called a “very unique bill” where parents can be charged with child abuse if they won’t support their minor child’s decision to seek an abortion or gender modifications. The second bill, SB 3499, will attempt to legalize assisted suicide, he said.

“We are up against it here in Illinois,” Rilott said, reminding everyone how, about a month before the old abortuary on Broadway was closed by the State, the building’s owner posted a sign in the window that said: “You morons couldn’t close a Jack in the Box.”

“God will do what needs to be done according to His will, His way and His time,” Rilott concluded. “Be confident, be joyful, but also be courageous and sacrificial and leave it in God’s hands.”

if they won’t support their minor child’s decision to seek an abortion or gender modifications. The second bill, SB 3499, will attempt to legalize assisted suicide, he said.

Two 40 Days for Life Campaigns in the Diocese of Rockford

AURORA—The 40 Days for Life prayer vigil will be held in Aurora across from Planned Parenthood, 3598 East New York St., from Feb. 14 through March 23, 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. To sign your parish up to pray, contact Beth Doroff at doroffbeth@gmail.com or the Aurora leader Philip Price at phil.price3@gmail.com

ROCKFORD—The Rockford campaign will run Feb. 14 through March 23, Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., on the sidewalk at the Rockford abortion facility at 611 Auburn St., Rockford. There is public parking on the side streets around this location. To commit to pray, contact Kevin Rilott at 815-494-0444 or kjrilott@comcast.net, or choose days and times at proliferockford.com. All are welcome to come and pray during those hours even if not signed up.

 

 

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