Faith in Action

Large crowd attends monthly prayer vigil for life in Louisville

Joseph Duerr

Participants walk in procession, pray rosary across street from abortion clinic

The procession stretched along a city block in downtown Louisville as 300 or so people walked on the sidewalk praying the rosary and singing hymns last Saturday, June 12.

With Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz leading the procession, the men, women and young people were taking part in the monthly prayer vigil for life sponsored by the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.

The vigil began with an early-morning Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption attended by about 500 people. Following the liturgy those who joined the procession walked some five and a half blocks from the Cathedral on Fifth Street to an abortion clinic near Second and Market streets. They lined the sidewalk along Market across from the clinic and continued praying the rosary and singing hymns.

The Helpers of God’s Precious Infants hold a prayer vigil for life on the second Saturday of each month. The June 12 gathering had the largest participation since the Helpers were formed in Louisville more than three years ago, said Patti Horton, coordinator of the group.

After praying across the street from the abortion clinic, people walked in a prayerful procession back to the Cathedral for Benediction. Some who did not take part in the procession remained at the Cathedral to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.

Before the start of Mass, Horton told people in the nearly-filled Cathedral that the vigil for life was intended to be a “prayerful and loving presence” outside the abortion clinic. “We will carry Christ in our hearts” to all, she said. “We’re not going to judge or condemn anyone.”

“This is not a protest,” she added. “Our weapons of choice are prayer and fasting.”

Archbishop Kurtz also reminded the congregation of the purpose of the gathering in his homily at the Mass, which six priests joined in concelebrating.

“We gather not because it is of our action but because of our desire to be faithful to God’s command to treat each person from the very moment of conception to the moment of natural death … with the dignity that is deserving of a child of God,” he said. “We gather so that what we do will not be our action but our participation in an action which is God’s.”

The call to be a disciple is the same today as it was centuries ago, he said. “It is to follow God now and at this time and in this place.

“So it is that you and I gather today,” and “we do so as always … to be courageous, compassionate and civil,” he added.

“We need to be courageous,” the archbishop told members of the congregation. “There are some who will tell us that our faith must remain private. (But) a faith that is alive cannot remain private. … We need to be courageous (in) standing for life.”

Also, Archbishop Kurtz said: “We need to be compassionate. We need to enter into the lives and the real struggles of people who are tempted to disregard the dignity of the human person, not to condemn but to reach out in and through the grace of Jesus Christ.”

And he told the congregation: “Be courageous, be compassionate and always do so in a very civil way — finding that person before us, whether they present themselves as friend or foe, whether they come forward to greet us in peace or the opposite, as a child of God.”

He added, “We seek only to follow our Lord Jesus Christ in all that we say and do.”

Last Published: June 17, 2010 10:55 AM                      Website:

Archbishop joins pro-life supporters in procession, vigil

Marnie McAllister

The Helpers of God’s Precious Infants join with Archbishop Kurtz in prayer at local clinic

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz and Father Dan Whelan led a pro-life procession in downtown Louisville.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz joined about 100 people at the Cathedral of the Assumption early Saturday, Oct. 10, for the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants’ monthly Mass and procession to a downtown Louisville abortion clinic.

He encouraged the Helpers, who gather on the second Saturday of each month (except in May when they gather on the third Saturday) to continue to pray at the clinic and reminded members of the group that they are not alone in their work.

“It was a year ago — actually a year and one week ago — that I made the trip to Munich, Germany,” he said during his homily at the 7 a.m. Mass. “I was representing Cardinal (Justin F.) Rigali for the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae and to acknowledge a new movement in Europe — the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.

“It is not simply a movement that is national,” he noted, “but has international value.” Archbishop Kurtz also made reference to the 2009-2010 Respect Life Program brochure (available for download on the U.S. bishops’ Web site, In the brochure, Cardinal Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia and chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-life Activities, notes that some people are committed only to “a conditional and selective vision of human rights.”

Cardinal Rigali writes that some “want to draw lines between important and unimportant members of society, between person and ‘nonpersons.’ ”

Archbishop Kurtz said the cardinal emphasizes that “we cannot be selective or conditional.”

“He says our love for life cannot be selective — even for the stranger (such as a child in the womb) whom I have never met before. I will never be selective in my regard for life, because that child is a gift from God.

“Secondly, he says, our love cannot be conditional,” Archbishop Kurtz said. “Unconditional love is the love of Jesus Christ. It is boundless. Anyone who aspires to sacrificial love is called to love and not place conditions.”

As Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, the archbishop added, “We are here to beseech the Lord to be apostles, ambassadors of love — to do it with civility … and sacrificial love.”

Following Mass, Archbishop Kurtz and Father Dan Whelan, administrator of Emmanuel Church in Albany, Ky., and Holy Cross Church in Burkesville, led about 60 people in a procession from the Cathedral to the EMW Women’s Surgical Center on West Market Street. Others stayed at the Cathedral in eucharistic adoration.

Along the way, those in the procession prayed the rosary. When they arrived at the clinic, the group stood across the street facing the center and continued to pray — the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries — and to sing hymns.

Across the street — directly in front of the center — a handful of pro-life activists stood with signs calling for an end to abortion, some of them graphic signs depicting aborted fetuses. They stood among volunteers from the clinic who wore bright orange vests that said “clinic escort.” At one point a handful of the clinic’s escorts, who turned to face the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, also began to sing a hymn.

One escort also crossed the street, apparently to videotape the Helpers, and placed her camera within inches of their faces as she moved down the line. The Helpers ignored the camera and continued to pray.

That’s part of their mission to maintain a “loving and prayerful presence” and ignore the sometimes negative reactions they might draw, said Patti Horton, coordinator of the group.

The group’s intent “is not to make anyone feel guilty,” Horton said. “It’s not our place to judge.”

“If someone says something unkind,” Horton told her fellow Helpers before the procession, “remain in prayer.”

Horton, who walks with the aid of a walker and yet continues to take part in processions, has led the local Helpers group since it was established in Louisville in the spring of 2007. She addressed the congregation before Mass, reminding the congregants, “Our mission here today is to carry the heart of Jesus to the place where God’s precious infants will die today.”

The group does not carry signs, only an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Their aim is simple, she said.

“It’s a group of people who are coming to have a prayerful presence at abortion mills,” she said. “Jesus didn’t have to die alone. To these children (being aborted), it says there is someone there who loves them.”

From 20 to 40 people attend the monthly vigils and procession. The group begins with a liturgy at 7 a.m. at the Cathedral and then processes to the clinic at 138 W. Market St. The procession is followed by Benediction at the Cathedral.

Horton said the group also has supporters who can’t attend the vigils. Those people pray and make personal sacrifices for the cause at home, at work or in their nursing homes.

While the group has a strong base of supporters, Horton said she would like to see participation grow. And she’s looking for someone to help her organize events and to act as the spokesperson.

Last Published: October 15, 2009 1:28 PM