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Life Chain, 40 Days for Life stand out among October pro-life events

Looking for ways to publicly witness to the intrinsic value of human life with others who think like you do? The month of October offers at least two great opportunities: Life Chain and 40 Days for Life.

Life Chain demonstrations on Oct. 6 will provide a prayerful, pro-life witness in more than 25,000 communities across the United States and Canada.

One Life Chain in a small town in Nebraska, however, is particularly young and vibrant.

In Elgin, where about 600 people reside, students at Pope John XXIII High School organize the Life Chain each year.

This year, as in the past, the students, their families and others will be lining up along South Second Street, also known as Nebraska Highway 14, near St. Boniface Church. They’ll be holding pro-life signs made by the high-schoolers with prayers and reflections  for individual silent prayer.

It’s a particularly passionate group, said Sister Patricia Hoffman, a School Sister of St. Francis who teaches at the high school and leads its Junior Right to Life group, which organizes the local Life Chain and numerous other pro-life benefits and events.

“I enjoy their enthusiasm,” Sister Patricia said. “These kids are not afraid to speak up for life.”

Life Chain is one of several pro-life events held each October, which the Catholic Church in the United States designates as Respect Life Month.

Respect Life Sunday and Life Chain fall on the first Sunday of October each year. The 40 Days for Life fall campaign also extends through the month and is another form of peaceful, prayerful witness.

Marissa Preister, a junior at Pope John XXIII and co-president of the school’s Junior Right to Life group, said Life Chain is one of her favorite activities. She’s taken part in it the past four years.

“I believe we make a difference in someone’s life on that day,” Preister said,  “and we hope and pray that we influence all of the people driving past.”

Father Kevin Vogel, associate pastor of St. Boniface Parish and five other parishes, as well as a teacher at Pope John XXIII and St. Boniface School, and chaplain of the archdiocese’s Respect Life Apostolate, said the students take the initiative on pro-life causes.

“Since I’ve been here, that group’s been strong and growing,” he said. Of the 37 students at the high school, 25 are members.

“I’m very pleased,” he said. “And I’m very proud of the students.”

Father Vogel said they’ve been doing a lot of fundraisers to help women in need and to make sure as many students as possible can go to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., in January.

Twenty-seven students have registered for the trip, leaving just 10 behind, Sister Patricia said.

Prayerful participation is being sought for other Life Chains throughout the archdiocese.

In Omaha, members of more than 50 churches, an estimated 5,000 people, are expected to participate, said Lauren Bopp, who is coordinating the effort with Nebraskans Embracing Life.

The organization is also helping with the 40 Days for Life fall campaign, which continues in the Omaha area. It began Sept. 25 and runs through Nov. 3.

During the 40 days, people are encouraged to be part of a prayerful vigil outside the abortion clinic at 1002 W. Mission Ave. in Bellevue.

The campaign also emphasizes prayer and fasting and community outreach through media, churches and personal witness.

Since 40 Days for Life officially began in 2007, the international endeavor has been credited with saving more than 1,600 lives from abortion and the closing of more than 100 abortion facilities.

People can participate individually or with a church group. Anyone interested in the Omaha-area campaign can sign up at 40daysforlife.com/local-campaigns/bellevue/.

Those interested in the Omaha Life Chain can visit lifechain.net or nationallifechain.org.

Local questions can be directed to Bopp at LBopp4Life@gmail.com.

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