ROCK HILL — Two recent pro-life initiatives in the Diocese of Charleston were successful in raising awareness about the sanctity of life and the importance of the pro-life movement, organizers say.
The annual Rosaries for Life campaign held in October exceeded its goal by more than 10,000 rosaries, according to Valerie Baronkin, coordinator for the campaign.
During the campaign, Catholics around the diocese are encouraged to pray rosaries, either individually or as part of a parish or school group, dedicated to ending to abortion. Participants report the number of rosaries they prayed to Baronkin. The total number reported was 42,000, far exceeding this year’s stated goal of 30,000, Baronkin said.
Rosaries for Life coincides with Respect Life Month in October. This year it took place at the same time as 40 Days for Life, a national campaign of daily prayer outside clinics where abortions take place. Active 40 Days for Life vigils and prayer groups were held in Columbia, Greenville and Charleston.
“There were more churches and people overall who participated,” said Valerie Baronkin. “I think also having the 40 Days for Life going on at the same time just made everybody more aware of life issues and the need for prayer. It all builds greater awareness, and we’re seeing more people who want to get involved.”
More Catholic students reported praying rosaries for life than ever before.
“It was great to have the schools involved,” Baronkin said. “For instance, I talked to a woman from St. Mary in Greenville and she said the students there really looked forward to praying the rosary during the month.”
The diocese collected more than $6,000 in donations through the Virtue Media campaign in October to pay for pro-life TV messages to run in two markets: 779 commercials in Aiken and 455 in the Fort Mill/Rock Hill area.
The largest number of donations came from St. Mary Help of Christians Church in Aiken and St. Philip Neri Church in Fort Mill, according to Kathy Schmugge, family life coordinator for the diocese. A small number of donations also came from other parishes around the state, she said.
Smaller Virtue Media campaigns have also taken place in Charleston, Lancaster and Hilton Head.
The commercials will run on various TV channels in the two markets from Dec. 26 through Jan. 27. They feature a diverse group of men, women and children and address issues including crisis pregnancy, post-abortion healing and the merits of adoption.
Virtue Media, based in Roswell, Ga., is an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting pro-life values through the media. Tom Peterson founded Virtue Media in 1998 and now serves as its president.
Peterson, a Catholic, said he decided to start Virtue Media after attending a retreat for married men. He felt God was asking him to use his background in advertising and media communications to spread the pro-life message and help bring fallen-away Catholics back to the church. The production of the commercials is funded entirely through donations.
Schmugge said some commercials were shown during Masses on Respect Life Sunday in Aiken and Fort Mill.
“These commercials are a perfect way to get the pro-life message across,” she said. “They do it in a way that’s not too harsh. There’s a lot of compassion in them, and they get the message across loud and clear.”
To learn more about Virtue Media visit www.virtuemedia.org.