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More than 200 people gathered for a 40 Days for Life Vigil Sept. 20, 2020, in Fort Myers. (FC FILE PHOTO)

FORT MYERS  |  The fall campaign of 40 Days for Life begins Sept. 22, 2021, and runs until Sunday, Oct. 31, with local vigils taking place in Sarasota and Fort Myers.

40 Days for Life is an internationally coordinated 40-day campaign that aims to end abortion locally through prayer and fasting, community outreach, and a peaceful all-day vigil in front of abortion businesses. For those not yet ready to be among crowds due to the pandemic, they are encouraged to pray from home and fast for the end of abortion. Others are welcome to come to the sidewalk and social distance to their level of comfort. 

Diocese of Venice Respect Life director Jeanne Berdeaux said having prayerful witnesses in front of abortion facilities serves as a powerful message of hope for those mothers who may think abortion is the only alternative they have for their unborn child.

“There is much excitement about the recent Supreme Court decision on the new Texas law severely limiting abortions, but we must remain vigilant,” Berdeaux said. “That was just one battle, but there are many more ahead in our quest to protect innocent human life. Planned Parenthood in our area continues to destroy little boys and girls in the womb every week. They continue to hurt women emotionally and physically. Many men who have no legal right in an abortion decision continue to be devastated or are not even aware of an impending abortion of their own child.”

Berdeaux stressed the need for the faithful to go to the sidewalk, in front of the centers where children die, to be a public witness, “to be the sign that unsure women seek that they should not keep the abortion appointment.  People need to know that there is something seriously wrong with what is going on inside of the abortion facility.”

40 Days for Life is an opportunity to be that witness by peacefully praying for an end to abortion where it matters most and finding out that it’s not so scary after all when you join with other like-minded Christians.

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The Diocese of Venice has been involved with 40 Days for Life since the beginning with vigils taking place in the fall — to coincide with October, Respect Life Month — and in the spring during Lent. 

The success of 40 Days for Life has been seen locally when women approach vigil participants and tell their story of how their mind was changed by those present who were there to pray for their unborn child. More than 150 cases of lives being saved have been documented.

The Fort Myers prayer vigil is one the public right-of-way in front of Planned Parenthood at 6418 Commerce Park Drive, Fort Myers. An opening prayer vigil will take place 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 21 and has become an annual tradition in Fort Myers, serving as a rallying point for the long 40 days ahead. The Fort Myers vigil takes place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily.

In Sarasota, the vigil is 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily outside the regional headquarters of Planned Parenthood, 736 Central Ave. A kickoff event will be held at 10:30 a.m., Sept. 22, in the parking lot of the Community Pregnancy Clinic (CPCI), around the corner from Sarasota Planned Parenthood. Brian Harkins, of the St Thomas More Parish Knights of Columbus, will be the leader for the rally. The guest speaker will be Angie Carey, executive director of “A Bond of Love Adoption Agency.” Learn about another critical, life-saving pro-life ministry.

Participants in the prayer vigil will be joining other like-minded individuals in communities around the nation and world. Some commit to taking part for a few minutes, an hour, or all day as they stand in the public right-of-way. Appropriate signs will be provided at both sites but are not needed to stand and pray. Check with your Parish to learn what hours they have committed to 40 Days for Life, as many often commit to several days of prayer on the front lines.

Those interested in taking part in a local prayer vigil are encouraged to sign up in advance at www.40daysforlife.com (search for Fort Myers or Sarasota). While registration is encouraged, all are welcome to come for any amount of time they can to help save a life. 

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