Pro-lifers prepare for spiritual battle at Helpers of God's Precious Infants Mass, procession


As the Helpers of God's Precious Infants Mass began at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, participants were fully aware of the spiritual battle they were about to encounter.

About 450 people came for the Saturday morning Mass and peaceful Rosary procession to Planned Parenthood, ready to face 100 or so counter-protesters on the clinic's parking lot wearing pink shirts and holding signs with messages including "I stand with Planned Parenthood" and "Don't take away our care."

In his homily, Father David Skillman read the description Planmned Parenthood supporters' counter rally. The Facebook event invite described pro-lifers as "anti-abortion extremists" that only care about shutting down Planned Parenthood and taking away women's reproductive health care.

"We are bent on shutting down death centers, helping people to find real health care, which includes the health of the infant in need," said Father Skillman. "We do not seek to harrass or intimidate ... but just the opposite, with hearts filled with love and compassion and deep conviction. We desire to support these women and men in crisis, to invite them to consider their options, and to offer them hope and the care that they truly need."

Opportunities to sow seeds of hope were evident.

A young woman walked from inside the clinic to a waiting car along Forest Park Avenue. Several volunteers from Operation Save America were there to offer her assistance.

Carmen Vazquez, who is from Connecticut and travels across the United States with the organization, was among those who talked to the woman and her friends in their car. Referring to the undercover videos depicting Planned Parenthood employees and others discussing the sale of body parts from aborted babies, Vazquez said, "With all this exposure, I'm trusting in God. The thing is, people protect animals more than humans."

Planned Parenthood supporters were advised not to interact with pro-lifers on the outside of the fence, but at least one young woman on the inside was moved to tears through an interaction with Frank Campana of Palm Bay, Fla., who also volunteers with Operation Save America. Campana shared a simple, life-affirming message with the hope of changing her heart.

"I gave the young lady the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we know the Gospel of Jesus Christ will set them free," he said. "The Holy Spirit pricked her heart and moved her heart. The mercies of God were on her."

Barb Kalinowski of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in St. Charles and her two daughters, Anna and Julia, were among those who joined the Helpers contingent praying the Rosary along Boyle Avenue. Anna Kalinowski, who recently returned home from college, said she's inspired by a woman at her parish who comes to pray in front of Planned Parenthood every weekend.

"We get there kind of early in the morning," said Anna Kalinowski. "I think when the workers go in and see us, it gives them that feeling there are people here who disagree and will think about why."

Karen Nolkemper, executive director of the Respect Life Apostolate, called the monthly Helpers Mass and procession an opportunity for the greater community to come together to peacefully pray for an end to abortion and support protection of all life.

"A prayerful witness is something everyone can do," she said. "We see moms, dads, grandparents, children, as a united Body of Christ to show support for life in a prayerful, peaceful way. It keeps the spotlight on Planned Parenthood and is a great way for the entire family to be a witness for life. It gives us an opprtunity to pray for them for a conversion of the heart and that we really do care for them." 

Helpers of God’s Precious Infants

Since 2000, the archdiocesan Respect Life Apostolate has offered the monthly Helpers of God’s Precious Infants Mass and peaceful Rosary procession to pray in front of Planned Parenthood.

Every third Saturday of the month, a Mass is celebrated at 8 a.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Lindell Boulevard and Newstead Avenue in the Central West End. After Mass, priests and seminarians lead a Rosary procession to the nearby Planned Parenthood abortion clinic.

Helpers of God’s Precious Infants is a worldwide prayer ministry founded in 1989 by Msgr. Philip Reilly, a priest of the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Msgr. Reilly, who spoke at the 2012 Respect Life Convention in St. Louis, said that praying in front of abortion clinics is not just about saving lives, but also saving souls.

“This is a matter of choosing God in life or not,” he said. “This is a matter of eternal salvation. This is the battle.”

Respect Life Apostolate
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