40-Day Lenten Prayer Vigil Aims to End Abortion

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
16 Feb 2010

Today is Shrove Tuesday and at 8pm tonight, more than 300 will attend a Mass at St Peter's Catholic Church, Surry Hills which will mark the launch of Sydney's 40 Days for Life Lenten campaign.

Following the Mass which will be celebrated by Fr Peter Joseph there will be a traditional pancake supper and at 11 pm a candlelight procession will leave from the Church for the Preterm Foundation in Surry Hills which is one of the city's best known and longest standing abortion clinics.

But it is at midnight, which marks the start of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, when Sydney's  40 Days for Life Campaign will get underway in earnest.

For the next 40 days and 40 nights, a non-stop vigil will be held outside the Preterm Clinic with prayers offered for an end to abortion. That's 960 hours!

"We'll be there 24/7 until the end of Lent," says the Campaign's Events Coordinator, Jessica Langrell, adding that by Lent's end this will represent an extraordinary 960 hours of prayers by the faithful for the city's unborn babies and their mothers and fathers.

"As a society we cannot allow ourselves to accept the fact of abortion as acceptable, because we would be taking the view that human life is expendable," says Bishop Julian Porteous, the Archdiocese of Sydney's Episcopal Vicar for Renewal and Evangelisation and patron of the city's 2010 40 Days for Life Campaign.

A grass roots movement, 40 Days for Life began in the US back in 2004. Founded by a small pro-life group in Texas, the campaign quickly gathered momentum and in 2009 it went global with cities across Australia and Canada taking part.

Now in 2010, it has become an international phenomenon with this year prayer and fasting vigil taking place in more than 200 cities world -wide. As from today, 16 February, 250,000 men women and children from across Canada, Britain, Northern Ireland, the US and Australia will join in prayers for the unborn child and continue their prayers and vigil for the next 40 days and nights.

In Sydney, while the vigil will take place during daylight hours outside the Preterm Abortion Clinic on the corner of Randle and Elizabeth Streets, Surry Hills, in the evening participants will pray at the small chapel set up in a unit directly opposite the Clinic.

"Having a private chapel so close to the abortion clinic is an invaluable addition and gives participants a chance to offer Lenten prayers for life during the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament," says Scott McKendry, Sydney director of the 40 Days for Life Campaign.

As the Campaign continues, special events have been organised including a Mass followed by a procession on 20 February. The Mass will be celebrated at St Maroun's Cathedral, Redfern at 8 am and then at 9 am Bishop Julian Porteous will lead a procession through the streets of Redfern to Surry Hills and on to the Preterm Clinic on Elizabeth Street.

There will also be a Midway Rally on Sunday, 21 March at PJ Gallagher's Irish Pub, Drummoyne at 4 pm and on 28 March, there will be  Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament at 10.00 pm at St Peter's Catholic Church, Surry Hills followed by another procession which will again be led by the Campaign's patron, Bishop Porteous.

Finally on 29 March, there will be a victory celebration for all participants at PJ Gallagher's Irish Pub in Drummoyne to exchange reflections and testimonies and to mark the end of a successful 40 days and night Lenten campaign.

For those wishing to find out how to take part in the prayer vigils for Sydney's 40 Days for Life Campaign, log on to