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Bishop, pro-life advocates pray outside abortion clinic

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 After participating in an early morning Mass April 6 at Queen of the Apostles Church in Alexandria, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and more than 200 pro-lifers gave prayerful witness outside a nearby abortion facility, the Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic.

“The cause that unites us is the protection of the unborn whose lives are so sadly and tragically taken each day. And there is a sense of urgency to our cause as we have recently witnessed the failure of elected officials to support life-giving bills and as we have listened to their increasingly alarming rhetoric,” Bishop Burbidge said in his homily.

A busload of students from Christendom College in Front Royal left at 5:30 a.m. to be present for the Mass and the prayer vigil outside 5999 Stevenson Ave., where the abortion facility is located. Until recently, it was in the nearby Landmark Towers.

“I think that it (abortion) is inarguably the most important human rights issue in the world today. Being out here in the public and witnessing to life is really important for us to do,” said Elizabeth Eller, a sophomore at Christendom and the president of Shield of Roses, a pro-life group on campus.  

Every Sunday, Shield of Roses will pray the rosary as well as the Divine Mercy Chaplet outside an abortion facility. 

A priest, as well as a dozen young adults, knelt on the concrete sidewalk facing the building’s entrance as everyone prayed the rosary together. Bishop Burbidge led the group in praying the fifth decade of the Sorrowful Mysteries.

Trish Laguilles attended with her son, Joshua, a toddler.

“I’ve always had a heart for the pro-life movement, but when you adopt it becomes so much more personal: just knowing that this little guy (Joshua) could have been aborted, but his birth mom chose life for him,” said Laguilles, a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Church in Alexandria.

Others, such as Mario St. Francis Herrera, a Queen of the Apostles parishioner, faced the road, held signs and waved to passersby in their cars. Herrera’s sign said that 2,264 babies were killed at the Landmark Towers abortion facility in 2016.

“It is my daughter’s birthday, and this is the right place for us to be,” Herrera said as he gestured to his daughter, Lilly-Rose Therese who was perched on his shoulders.

For one couple, the prayer vigil was a chance for them to pray that women facing crisis pregnancies will choose life — a radically different choice than the one they made in their college years.

“When we were in college, we had an abortion. It was very sad. But after that we opened our eyes (…) We are so thankful for the bishop being here and the people here who came from all different parishes. We are joining forces so this clinic will be shut down soon,” said Alberto Calimano, who attended the vigil with his wife, Yseth, and their three children.

Making the Diocese of Arlington abortion free is a realistic goal, according to Amy McInerny, respect life director in the diocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Respect Life.

“Our goal is an abortion-free diocese. There used to be seven abortion facilities and we prayed four of them closed,” McInerny said. “The power of prayer is beyond anything that we can understand.”

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019