Life Chain Sunday was observed throughout the Diocese of Charleston on Oct. 4 as parishioners gathered all across the Coastal, Pee Dee, Piedmont and Midlands deaneries to show their respect for life.
Following is a summary of what took place in just a few locations in South Carolina.
It poured all morning the day of the Life Chain and the rain finally cleared about 1:30 p.m. By 2:30 p.m., the sun was shining, and 1,500 people lined both sides of two highly visible streets. The Life Chain started on Haywood Road just south of I-85, continued south until it intersected with Laurens Road, where it turned right and finally ended at Antrim Road. The course ran about two-and-a-half miles and passed in front of two major shopping centers and a number of strip malls. Pastors for Life coordinated the event, and people from more than 50 different churches participated.
The members of the youth group at Jesus, Our Risen Savior proved that they know the value of life. They were on the front lines in the battle to abolish abortion.
They prepared a luncheon for the parishioners before they hit the streets to spread the word that every life is precious.
The youth at Our Risen Savior even brought in a special speaker to tell the diners about the importance of life. She was Souha J. Khawam, a family physician.
Khawam said she’s blessed every time she brings a child into the world and agonizes over the suffering of those at the end of their lives. She encouraged everyone involved in the Life Chain to trust in their faith and not to get discouraged. “It is important for all of us who consider ourselves to be Christians to know what our church teaches and to know our own hearts in order that we may be better able to take a strong stand for our beliefs — through dialogue, through example and through action.”
Pam Rice, youth director at Our Risen Savior, said responses from passing motorists varied from honks in support to expressions of opposition.
Deanna Mechensky, a parishioner at Our Risen Savior, said she was disappointed that only about 160 people participated. Still, both were encouraged by the different faiths joined together for life. Mechensky said. “It was a unifying effort.”
Father Eugene Leonard, pastor at Our Risen Savior, joined the line. He invited everybody back to Our Risen Savior for a healing Mass that was held at the Tombstone for the Unborn.
One parent, Theresa Langford, said it was important that all parents support their children’s efforts to take a stand for their faith. “We must make them aware what’s going on in the world,” she said, and show them “that they can make a difference if they try.”
Rain could not dampen the spirits of participants in the two Pee Dee Life Chains in Horry and Georgetown counties. “We stormed the heavens with prayers,” said Susan Mevissen, secretary of Grand Strand Citizens for Life.
The Life Chain started as Grand Strand Citizens for Life eight years ago, she said. It is now the Horry County Life Chain. Both organizations are non-denominational and now, bilingual. Signs in Spanish read, ‘El Aborto Mata Ninos,’ ‘Abortion kills children.’
There were about 250 participants. “I feel one purpose of the Life Chain is to educate,” said Mevissen. “I feel that events like this are helpful because abortions have declined.”
Mevissen said in 1990, there were 13,285 abortions, and in 1997, there were 9,211. “That’s encouraging,” she said. “You feel like people are getting the message. We’re just trying to promote a greater respect for life and inform women of their alternatives, more loving options such as adoption.”
Msgr. Thomas Duffy of St. Michael Church in Garden City noted that the march is not only to accent respect for life against abortion but also against the death penalty. Msgr. Duffy discussed the controversy when the S.C. Attorney General recently called for the scheduling of five executions. “If the Attorney General has asked for all of them to be executed at the same time, unfortunately, he’s getting his expressed wish to have not an electric chair, but an electric sofa,” said Msgr. Duffy. “Certainly part of the challenge to respect life is not to kill. That’s not just the innocent children within the womb. Hopefully if the Attorney General gets his wish to have multiple executions on one day, there will be a positive response manifested in the disgust with this multiple killing.”
The Fourth Annual Georgetown County Citizens for Life event was held despite rain. Colin Peterson, who works for International Paper said, “It’s an awareness campaign. It’s not designed to protest this or that,” said Peterson. “There were many different denominations.” An opening prayer was said before the group scattered to the roads. “A lot of people thought it was rained out, but we go rain or shine,” said Peterson. The Georgetown Citizens for Life group meets at 7 p.m. at Nana’s Steakhouse on U.S. 17 the third Tuesday of the month. For more information about the group, call (843) 527-1361.
Sheila Ojendyk, Joey Riestroffer, Tim Bullard and Scott Webster all contributed to the above article.