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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - Church Militant Resistance members from more than 60 chapters gathered on Divine Mercy Sunday at the Divine Mercy Hour (3 p.m. ET) to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet outside abortion mills.
The idea for the prayer vigil was inspired by three Metro Detroit men who, a day after the sheltering in place guidelines were issued, were at an abortion facility praying. Though the gathering had fewer than 10 participants, all standing more than six feet apart, local police ordered them to disperse and threatened them with jail time.
The incident spurred Church Militant staffer Susan Vance to action. She contacted CM Resistance leader Joe Gallagher and pitched the idea of organizing similar vigils across the country.
"For those of us who have been praying at abortion mills, it's time to get back into the swing of things," said Vance. "We still have freedom of assembly," she added, describing the vigils as a gesture of mercy for babies, mothers, nurses and doctors.
Divine Mercy Sunday was chosen as the ideal date. Participants prayed at the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3 p.m., the Divine Mercy Hour — the hour traditionally thought to be when Jesus died. Afterward, some groups prayed the Rosary and some shared prayer intentions. Before dispersing, participants stood safely six feet apart and chatted, enjoying the company of others of like-minded faith.
As word of the gatherings spread, people from other groups joined in to participate. In St. Louis, participants from two other groups joined Church Militant Resistance members in praying the Chaplet.
Dr. Helen Gelhot, President of Credo of the Catholic Laity supported the event, as did Paul Gewalt of Personhood Missouri, an affiliate of Person Alliance. They believe that granting the status of personhood to the pre-born is the best way to guarantee their rights under the U.S Constitution.
Three of the 10 participants in St. Louis had been to the recent Bringing America Back to Life convention in Cleveland and were eager to express their pro-life enthusiasm.
Illustrating that the prayer of a righteous man availeth much, Church Militant Resistance member Paul Nick stood outside Planned Parenthood's largest facility in the nation — in Houston — and prayed the Rosary by himself. Not to be discouraged, Nick was quick to point out that he was not alone: "God was there."
In Toledo, Ken Chlopecki reported that his group of nine experienced a bit of harassment from one person. The group also received honks of support from passing cars.
The most noteworthy account of harassment came from the Resistance group praying outside the Planned Parenthood facility in Ferndale, Michigan where Church Militant headquarters is located. According to Vance, a jogger stopped and was then joined by a man in his car. Together they complained about the group being outdoors during the pandemic and accused participants of being part of a terrorist organization.
Chlopecki thought the prayer gathering was great. "It gets us out; gets us doing something!" he said.
He has now gotten the bug and is planning for the group to do the Patriotic Rosary for the Consecration of our Nation in late May, perhaps for Memorial Day, since with each Rosary bead all 50 states are mentioned.
Forty Days for Life had to cut short its spring campaign. An organization spokesperson told Church Militant that in order to keep their staff safe and to comply with CDC guidelines, they asked interested participants to pray at home and would fully resume their work with a fall campaign.
In St. Louis, Coalition for Life Executive Director Brian Westbrook is back on the street conducting sidewalk counseling three days a week. He tells Church Militant, "By early May we will resume full coverage, five days a week."
Vance wants to make sure people understand the Divine Mercy Sunday prayer vigil should not be considered a one-time activity. She is eager for Catholics to resume their normal activities on behalf of the unborn. "The abortion mills aren't taking a break," she pointed out.