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Students Keep Vigil and Bear Witness throughout “40 Days for Life”

Posted: March 29, 2019

As part of their Lenten observance, as many as 50 Thomas Aquinas College students have taken part in the 40 Days for Life prayer vigils outside the Ventura, California, Planned Parenthood.

“I talked to the people running the campaign locally, and they said it would be great if we could do a couple of hours for one afternoon a week,” says junior Ryan Uchison, who organizes the student contingent. “I got thinking, between us all — even though the intellectual life is our primary goal — we could do a lot more than that.” So he began to schedule vigil shifts, recruit volunteers, and find drivers to make the 20-mile trip. As a result, for the last four Thursdays, Thomas Aquinas College students covered the entire day’s shifts, from morning to night.

“Nothing has stopped Ryan and his fellow classmates from Thomas Aquinas College from coming out to pray at the local Planned Parenthood in Ventura,” the 40 Days website recently proclaimed. Adds Anna Murphy, a volunteer for the local campaign, “They come out super-early in the morning — I give God all the glory for their coming out and doing that.”

The nationwide campaign, which began on Ash Wednesday, includes regular prayer for the unborn, fasting, and all-day vigils outside of abortion clinics. “When we get there, we do so primarily to pray, to be peaceful, and to be a presence,” says Ryan. “We want to show that this is not an issue we’re sweeping under the rug. To show young people protesting Planned Parenthood is essential in today’s climate.”

Additionally the group also distributes information for pro-life crisis-pregnancy centers and health clinics that offer women’s medical services without engaging in the grim practices of Planned Parenthood. “We stand out there, we pray, we hold signs, and we bear witness to the wonderful life-giving message of 40 Days for Life,” says Ryan.

The students generally come to the clinic for two-hour shifts, including the 30-minute drive each way. “Some can come weekly, and some can only do it one shift here of there — every bit helps,” says Ryan. One group of eight dedicated freshmen has committed to a two-hour window every Thursday evening. “I try to encourage everyone to view it as Lenten sacrifice,” Ryan continues. “Maybe they had to read seminar early to get to the vigil, and to do that, had to miss a game they wanted to watch. In some way, they are making a sacrifice, and I think it’s good to view it that way.”

His fellow students’ efforts, he has no doubt, are bearing good fruit. “Overall you can never know the lifesaving work of God, even if we don’t hear about it,” he says. “But it is good just to reach out to people. God’s work is being done underneath the surface.”