Bishop Frank J. Dewane prayed and spoke at the opening of 40 Days for Life prayer vigil Sept. 25 in front of the Planned Parenthood in Sarasota. (Susan Laielli | FC)

40 Days for Life prayer campaign going strong

Sarasota  |  The 40 Days for Life Fall Campaign to seek an end to abortion in the U.S. got off to a rousing start on Sept. 25 with prayer vigils and rallies in Sarasota, Fort Myers and Naples.

Each day through Nov. 3, prayer warriors are braving the warm temperatures to spend time as witnesses for life. The 40 Days for Life Campaign is a global initiative that is taking place in 505 cities in the U.S. and abroad. Since its beginning, more than 16,000 babies have been saved. 

More than 75 people participated in the opening ceremony for the downtown Sarasota prayer vigil in the shadow of the regional headquarters for Planned Parenthood, the largest abortions in the U.S.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane offered his prayers and words of encouragement noting that being a witness for life makes a real difference. “It is a good thing that you do this,” Bishop Dewane added. “You are giving a voice to the voiceless — the unborn. And you are being heard.”

Diocesan Respect Life Director Jeanne Berdeaux also spoke in Sarasota and showed models of unborn fetuses. One was a model of a 12-week-old fetus – 90% of abortions are done before the end of the first trimester, usually after seven weeks. The other model was at 22 weeks — when it is still legal to have an abortion in Florida – this fact causing some to gasp in horror. 

“There is no difference between the two except for the size and the level of development,” Berdeaux said. “They are both unborn babies. You cannot argue that fact.”

Representatives from local pregnancy resource centers also spoke of the effort to encourage vulnerable pregnant mothers to use pro-life facilities. 

The opening of 40 Days for Life in Naples, also across from a Planned Parenthood facility, included representatives from eight different parishes and an evening time for  youth from Collier County Students for Life Clubs. In Fort Myers the 40 Days for Life opening prayer service included a candlelight vigil.

There is a Midpoint Rally planned for the Sarasota campaign which will take place at noon, Oct. 19, in front of Community Pregnancy Clinic, 1419 Seventh St. Sarasota. This is around the corner from the regional headquarters of Planned Parenthood. The guest speaker is historian Nancy Randolph who will speak about the sanctity of life, the Declaration of Independence’s Unalienable Right to Life, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and situations where groups of people were dehumanized and the results. All are welcome. For more information, call Rich at 941-923-0752, 

Two 40 Days for Life Youth Rallies are also planned. One takes place 6-8 p.m., Oct. 14 at the Vineyards Community Park in Naples. A second one will take place 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Oct. 26, at the Fort Myers location at the intersection of Winkler Road and College Parkway.

The 40 Days for Life prayer vigils in the Diocese of Venice each take place in the right-of-way each day through Nov. 3. The Sarasota vigil is at 736 Central Ave., near downtown. The Fort Myers vigil is at the intersection of Winkler Road and College Parkway. In Naples, the vigil is at 1425 Creech Road.

Parishes throughout the Diocese have committed to prayer time during the 40 Days vigil. Check your bulletin for the dates and times. People interested in taking part in a local prayer vigil are encouraged to sign up in advance at and search for the closest vigil site. While registration is encouraged, all are welcome.