PROVIDENCE — Local members of the pro-life community gathered for the Jericho Walk on Saturday, September 23.
The Jericho Walk is a yearly event organized by the diocesan Office of Life and Family Ministry and serves as the symbolic start of 40 Days for Life, a series of grassroots events taking place throughout the nation each autumn meant to raise awareness of various pro-life issues and pray for an end to abortion.
Despite the unfavorable weather conditions, a small group, including both laity, priests and religious, met in the parking lot of St. Patrick’s parish in Providence a little before 10 a.m., and, after offering a prayer, then walked to the Statehouse, carrying with them signs in support of the pro-life movement.
“A little rain won’t dampen our spirits,” said Anne-Marie Vale, one of those in attendance. In a short speech given to those in attendance, Lisa Cooley, the coordinator of the Office of Life and Family Ministry, noted that this year 40 Days for Life events are taking place in more than 600 cities throughout the nation. Since 40 Days for Life began in 2004, Cooley noted, more than 24,000 babies have been saved from abortion, and 150 abortion clinics have closed.
“I think it’s very important to do whatever we can to protect life in Rhode Island,” said John O’Hearne, a parishioner of St. John’s parish in Slaterville. “We’re usually the silent majority, but I think we have to show some support.”
“Somebody has to stand up for our most vulnerable individuals who really don’t have a voice on their own,” O’Hearne continued.
Young people had a visible presence at the Jericho Walk. One such participant was Lucien Plante. A parishioner at St. Patrick’s parish, Plante is a member of the Chosen Ministry, an organization that ministers to teens and young adults.
“I think [the biggest issue in the pro-life cause] is keeping people interested, especially after Roe v. Wade was overturned. It’s more a state-level issue, so it’s not quite as unified,” Plante said. “We’ve gotta keep the momentum up.”
The Jericho Walk, which is the kick off for the Fall 2023 40 Days for Life campaign, was hosted in collaboration with RI Right to Life.
Lydia Bartlett, who works at the Rhode Island Right to Life, emphasized how an important element of the pro-life movement is its attempts to provide women with alternatives to abortion.
“I think that’s really important, because a lot of times abortions happen because there’s a lack of support surrounding the mother. And so, I think that that’s a big focus that needs to be really zeroed in on, that the mother gets the support that she needs.”
“You need more than just arguments to change people’s hearts and minds. You need prayer, you need grace, you need a witness to our convictions,” said Dr. Guiseppi Butera, a professor of philosophy at Providence College, who was among those who took part in the Jericho Walk. “It is a way of putting flesh on the bare bones of arguments, and really giving a visible demonstration of our concern.”
The Jericho Walk is but the first of several events that mark 40 Days for Life. Another event, Life Chain Sunday, will take place on Sunday, October 1, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. On Sunday, October 28, the Diocese will also host Human Life Guild Day, which will begin with Mass with Bishop Richard G. Henning at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul at 9 a.m., followed by a series of talks on various pro-life issues.
The theme for the 40 Days for Life 2023 is “Radical Solidarity.” Events for this year will emphasize how the pro-life movement furthers the authentic good of women and children, and how proponents of the pro-life movement must show signs of support for mothers and pregnant women.
This theme is particularly relevant since 40 Days for Life 2023 comes a little over a year after the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Many pro-life advocates have strongly emphasized how the reversal does not represent the final victory of the movement; rather, the movement must now shift towards fighting against the concrete conditions that cause people to seek abortion.
To learn more about the events connected with 40 Days for Life, visit www.dioceseofprovidence.org/LIFE.