Part of a nationwide effort to pray for the end of abortion, a crowd of families, religious, and priests, as well as students and faculty from Notre Dame, St. Mary’s College, and Holy Cross, gathered to begin the annual 40 Days for Life.  On September 22, Bishop Rhoades led the group in praying a rosary in front of the Women’s Pavilion, a local abortion clinic.

The 40 Days of Life project began in 2007 in order to give witness to the sanctity of life.  Participants gather in front of abortion clinics and pray rosaries, sing hymns, fast, and offer sidewalk counseling with the stated goal of helping women make informed and thoughtful decisions about their future and the future of their unborn children.

            Bishop Rhoades led the people in the joyful mysteries of the rosary supplemented by prayers approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for the end to abortion. The prayer service concluded with a prayer for life composed by Pope John Paul II.

            After the service, Bishop Rhoades said that one of the most exciting part of this year’s 40 Days for Life is the number of people who gathered for the rosary. He said that seeing so many people dedicated to the cause of life and willing to witness publicly to the pro-life cause was “uplifting.” 

Bishop Rhoades particularly commended the delegations from Notre Dame, St. Mary’s College, and Holy Cross College, pointing out that the students were a “great hope for the future.” He also stated that “prayer is the most powerful weapon against the Culture of Death.”

Bishop Rhoades has been active in pro-life activity for more than 20 years. In 1990, as a priest of the diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he organized an annual pro-life Rosary Rally.  Since his installment as bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese in January 2010, he has been supportive of pro-life work at the University of Notre Dame, marching with Notre Dame Right to Life at the March for Life in Washington DC last January.

Ray Korson, president of the Notre Dame Right to Life student group, said, “It was powerful to witness the number of students, priests, faculty members, and local supporters who were gathered together in prayer for the unborn and their mothers. Bishop Rhoades’ presence was moving as his leadership infused our prayers with love, inspired by hope and driven by faith. It is overwhelming to realize the efficacy of this prayerful demonstration, knowing that these prayers were changing hearts and saving lives.”

Professor Cavadini of the Notre Dame Theology Department, who also attended the prayer service, emphasized the power of prayer as well as the importance of the presence of the local bishop.  He stated that he participated in the effort in order to foster solidarity in prayer.

“I went to the rosary for life to pray in solidarity with the local bishop,” said Cavidini. “I see the 40 days for Life as essentially a witness of solidarity in prayer for conversion of heart on all issues pertaining to the sanctity of life, especially the sanctity of unborn human life.  This witness of prayer is most powerful when it is expressed in communion with the whole Church, which means, in practice, in communion with the bishop of the diocese.”

Cavadini elaborated on the fruits that he hopes his prayers, and the prayers of all participants, will bear.

He stated, “We pray for the conversion of heart of those who do not respect the sanctity of unborn life, and also for our own continuing conversion of heart, so that we might be ever more clear in our convictions and persuasive in our arguments, even as we also strive to be more and more willing to shoulder the burdens of supporting women in crisis pregnancies, and supporting all families with children, especially the poorest.”

Nathaniel Gotcher has the body of a god – fortunately not Hephaestus – and is still looking for his Artemis. Contact him at