It was as close to the sidewalk as the babies could get.
The Memorial to the Unborn, which usually adorns a grassy area near St. Andrew Church in Holt Summit, had been moved temporarily to a concrete walkway near the door while repairs were being made to the building.
The stone memorial reminds people to pray for the millions of pre-born children who have been lost to abortion.
“I find it fitting today that God brought the babies to us on the sidewalk,” St. Andrew parishioner Kathy Forck, co-coordinator of the Columbia 40 Days for Life Campaign, stated during a local observance of the National Day of Remembrance for the Aborted.
40 Days for Life participants spend hours praying on the sidewalk outside the Columbia Planned Parenthood, where thousands of abortions were performed and where abortion referrals continue.
With the memorial in its temporary location, “God brought the babies to us today,” said Mrs. Forck.
As part of the local observance, about 75 people gathered around the memorial, prayed, sang hymns and placed roses on top of it as a gesture of reparation for the victims of abortion.
Among those attending the service were Monsignor Robert A. Kurwicki, vicar general of the Jefferson City diocese; Father Paul Clark, diocesan moderator for pro-life ministry; Father Roberto Ike, pastor of the Holts Summit parish; and Father Richard Frank, a retired priest.
At a service lasting about an hour in church, the people sang hymns, listened to readings from Scripture and tried to comprehend the gifts from God that had been lost to abortion.
Fr. Clark noted that hearts that mourn the loss of life are broken, much like the love- and compassion-filled but wounded heart of Jesus.
“There is a beauty in that, because the broken heart can pour forth, can give, and is also open to receive,” said Fr. Clark.
“May our hearts be strengthened to continue within this ministry, to continue not just our prayer but also to continue our action and our work,” he said.
Msgr. Kurwicki spoke of the significance of every parish and Knights of Columbus council in the country having a Memorial to the Unborn.
He called to mind St. Teresa of Kolkata’s assertion that “we need these cold stones, because we need to change the cold hearts into warm hearts.”
Echoing the direction of the late Cardinal John O’Connor of New York, Msgr. Kurwicki said these memorials must also serve as a call to prayer for conversion of hearts, for an end to abortion, and for mercy for everyone whose lives have been touched by it.
“We have to pray for mercy,” he said. “We have to present ourselves not only as a strong force for life but also an approachable force for mercy.
“May the Lord give us the strength to do that,” he prayed.
“A precious gift”
Gunther Skaletz, a member of Our Lady of the Lake parish in Lake Ozark, spoke from his perspective as a World War II survivor of a Nazi concentration camp.
“Life is not a commodity!” he proclaimed. “Life is a precious gift of God! He gives us life, and only He can take it from us.”
Mr. Skaletz assured everyone present of the power of prayer.
“Without my daily prayers, I would not be standing here before you today,” he said. “I am convinced that they are what kept me alive.”
Protection and mercy
Outside by the memorial, Msgr. Kurwicki reminded everyone that those who have been lost to abortion are “our brothers and sisters in Christ, who have never had a chance at earthy life but share in the heavenly life of our merciful loving Father.”
He led the people in prayer “especially our smallest brothers and sisters, those in the womb.”
“We remember those who are living and commend them to Your protection,” he prayed. “We remember those who have died, and commend them to Your mercy.”
Fr. Clark led a prayer for everyone to receive the grace to be living witnesses to the sanctity and dignity of human life.
“May we live to see the day when all people who visit this site will remember abortion only as a thing of the past and may praise You forever for the victory of life,” he prayed.
They sang, “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman,” as people placed their roses on the stone.