Pro-lifers celebrate Mass across from Planned Parenthood headquarters
By Julie Filby
Photo by James Baca/DCR:
More than 300 people gathered at Denver’s Planned Parenthood headquarters for a morning prayer vigil and two Masses on March 31 to close the most recent 40 Days for Life campaign.
In the rugged parking lot across Pontiac Street from the organization’s second largest facility, some bowed their heads, some raised their eyes to heaven, and others—seemingly overwrought—held their heads in their hands as they prayed for an end to abortion.
Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the country.
“It’s hard being here,” said Tim Hall, a parishioner of Holy Trinity Church in Westminster who attended the rally with his wife, Josey, and 8-year-old daughter Jordan. “I feel it emotionally … it’s good to be here to pray.”
Forty Days for Life is a grassroots initiative of prayer, fasting, outreach and constant vigil at abortion clinics. For the local 40 Days’ campaign, which started Feb. 22, this was the first time Masses were celebrated outside the northwest Denver facility.
“This idea (to celebrate Mass on-site) was certainly an inspiration of the Holy Ghost,” said Father Joseph Hearty, F.S.S.P., parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Latin Rite Parish, who celebrated Mass at the rally. “It seems to me that we are in drastic times now, so time to pull out the ‘big guns.’
“If we are saddled with the second largest abortion mill in the country than we need to start using greater means to help in the battle against the principalities and powers of this world.”
Rosalinda Lozano, Denver 40 Days for Life coordinator, said six Masses were celebrated over the 40-day effort.
“The priests really got on board (this campaign); it’s been a real blessing,” she said. “The most powerful weapon offered in the battle between good and evil is the holy Mass.”
At the closing rally, Father Salvador Cisneros from Ascension Parish in Denver celebrated Mass in Spanish at 8 a.m.; Bishop James D. Conley, apostolic administrator for the Denver Archdiocese, led a rosary and pro-life litany at 10 a.m.; then Father Hearty celebrated the extraordinary form of the Mass—commonly called the Tridentine Mass, which is said in Latin—at 11 a.m.
Additional Masses were celebrated on-site other days during the campaign by Father Piotr Mozdyniewicz, pastor of Shrine of St. Anne Church in Arvada; Msgr. Bernard Schmitz, pastor of Mother of God Church in Denver and liaison for clergy for the archdiocese; and Father John Paul Leyba, pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Westminster.
Bishop Conley said pro-lifers must remain vigilant despite the closing of some abortion clinics.
“Planned Parenthood made a strategic decision to close small clinics and build huge megaplex death mills,” he said.
In May 2010, the organization opened the country’s largest abortion clinic in Houston, a seven-story, 78,000-square-foot facility. Denver’s three-story, 50,000-square-foot space opened July 2008. Recently, ground broke on a 19,000-square-foot facility in Fort Worth, a building three times larger than its current building according to the Planned Parenthood website.
“Our enemies are bigger than us,” said Father Hearty, “But God is bigger than them.”
“I believe that seeing so many people in reverent devotion and prayer during the Mass will hopefully touch (those) driving into the clinic and those working in the abortion mill,” he said.
Patty Ketchel, a parishioner of St. Louis Church in Louisville, attended her first vigil at the clinic wearing a T-shirt with a photo of a smiling baby that read: “My grandson survived an abortion.”
“His birth mother was a heroine addict,” she said, welling up as she spoke of her grandson Gabriel. “She went in to abort the baby, and by the grace of God she didn’t and my son and his wife adopted him.”
Gabriel’s parents, George and Beverly Ketchel of Broomfield, had been working with adoption agencies; most had waiting lists longer than five years.
“They decided to sign up for an at-risk baby,” explained Ketchel.
Gabriel, now 11, is a blessing to their family.
“He’s precious,” she said. “When he goes to church he lights a candle for his birth mother.
“He prays for her all the time, for giving him life.”