The celebration of a Mass for Life in Auckland on February 13 was the start of a great wave of prayer for life that will resound around the world.

That is what Family Life International NZ director Michelle Kaufman told the congregation at St Therese’s church in Three Kings on the day before the 40 Days for Life campaign would start for 2018.

“Pope John Paul II in his encyclical, The Gospel of Life, called for a prayer that would resound around the world, a great prayer for life,” Mrs Kaufman said.

“Tonight we have begun that, because tonight we are the first in the world to start the 40 Days for Life — a prayer that indeed will resound around the world in defence of life, and for the unborn children, their mothers, fathers, for all those involved in the abortion industry,” she said.

Before the Mass, FLI’s Michael Loretz said the campaign — which will be near the AMAC facility in Mt Eden — will be a “public witness to show people what is happening at that place”.

“We do it because we want to pray for the unborn children and their mothers. And we do it because we want to offer support and love to them, we want to show them that there is a better way,” Mr Loretz said.

“We do it because we want to pray for the unborn children and their mothers. And we do it because we want to offer support and love to them, we want to show them that there is a better way,” Mr Loretz said.

But he reminded people that this is to be a “peaceful statement, a peaceful vigil”. He referred to the “statement of peace” handed out with the order of service for the Mass.

One of the promises within this “statement”, to which 40 Days for Life volunteers testify, is “I will show compassion and reflect Christ’s love to all abortion facility or AMAC employees, volunteers and customers”.

In his homily, Fr Leo Doyle said that one measure of a society is the way it looks after its most vulnerable members, including unborn children.

“If that measure of civilisation is indeed valid, then the society in which we are living today is not only uncivilised but is becoming more and more barbaric,” Fr Doyle said. What is needed is stronger laws to protect unborn children, he added, but he said this is unlikely to happen any time soon.

Fr Doyle called for “prayer for the poverty of a society that is increasingly attracted to violent solutions to its problems”.

Wellington

Wellington’s fifth 40 Days for Life campaign kicked off with two events at which people prayed that pre-born babies to be given a chance at life.

FLI NZ Wellington co-ordinator Clare McClean said an ecumenical service called “Opening Event” at Knox Hall in Lower Hutt with Rev. Paul Prestidge took place on February 11 — and a Mass for Life was celebrated on February 13 by Cardinal John Dew with Fr Dennis Nacorda at St Anne’s Catholic church in Newtown.

The first event was attended by 25 people while the Mass was attended by more than 50 people.

St Anne’s is close to the city’s regional hospital where, based on 2016 statistics, 1348 abortions took place, said Ms McClean.

“I am sure we all want to see our damaged culture healed and all pre-born babies given a chance at life. If so, then we need to take seriously the 40 Days call to pray for an end to abortion.”- Clare McClean

“I was reminded as Cardinal Dew spoke at the Mass for Life that prayer is one of the conditions required by God himself for obtaining favours,” she said. “I am sure we all want to see our damaged culture healed and all pre-born babies given a chance at life. If so, then we need to take seriously the 40 Days call to pray for an end to abortion.“

Ms McClean said the local 40 Days for Life participants have come into this campaign armed with experiences from past campaigns.

She said they are able to better articulate their position and engage with the people who come to talk to them.

“People are concerned about the havoc abortion adds to people’s lives. This morning (February 15) we spoke with a psychiatrist who is very aware of link between past sexual abuse and abortion, and also asked us to think more about what can be done to prepare young men to realise if they are going to be engaged in intimate behaviour they also need to be ready to face the responsibility of fatherhood,” she said.

She said volunteers are always needed to stand up and be witnesses for life. They also need people to pray for life.

“Prayer is the main focus of 40 Days for Life. Everybody can take part in obtaining favours from God. If we want to see our damaged culture healed, we need to answer the call,” she said.

Christchurch

The Christchurch contingent, on the other hand, held a movie night on February 12 to start its campaign.

Talia Steiner, 24, is leading the campaign this year.

“I had participated as a volunteer last year. Before I knew it, I was the lead campaigner. But I do have a bunch of other volunteers. There’s four of us . . . planning the campaign in Christchurch,” she said.

“It’s something that’s really close to my heart and I want to help out where possible,” added Ms Steiner who is also Christchurch Catholic Youth Team Mission team coordinator.

The film shown was The Drop Box, a story about South Korean pastor Lee Jong-rak, who had a drop box installed in the outer wall of a home to provide a safe place for babies who would otherwise be left to die on the streets.

Ms Steiner said the campaign is off to a good start. The vigil started at Riccarton Avenue, outside Christchurch Hospital.

“We had really good responses from the community, people walking past and not being afraid to come up and having a chat with us,” she said.

Ms Steiner said they are always in need of more volunteers.

“Hopefully, as the campaign goes and people see us outside, more will be willing to sign up and commit to a time. We are still in the process of getting people along and promoting around all the parishes and out into the community,” she said.

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