40 Days for Life celebrates successful campaign

GREENVILLE—A small group of Christian faithful were in a celebratory mood Nov. 3, and for a good reason.

The gathering, which included an ecumenical group of participants, came together on a sunny but chilly Saturday morning to celebrate the final day of a successful 40 Days for Life campaign.

“The campaign has gone well,” said Valerie Baronkin, coordinator for the 40 Days for Life Greenville Deanery. “We have had three babies saved.”

In addition, another three women left the Greenville Women’s Clinic and went instead to the Piedmont Women’s Center, which provides counseling and assistance, she said.

“We don’t know if those women actually chose life over an abortion, but we strongly suspect that they did,” said Baronkin, a parishioner at St. Mary Magdalene Church in Simpsonville.

Greenville’s 40 Days for Life celebration was held in the parking lot of the Piedmont Women’s Center, a pregnancy counseling center next door to the abortion clinic.

This year’s 40 Days for Life fall campaign began on Sept. 26, with as many as 415 cities participating, according to the campaign’s website. Worldwide, the effort resulted in more than 400 babies saved.

The 40 Days for Life chapters in Columbia and Charleston also held closing celebrations.

The outreach campaign started in 2007 and is held annually in the spring and fall. Volunteers use prayer, fasting and peaceful vigils as part of their effort to end abortion in the U.S. and worldwide.

Baronkin, who has been involved in the Greenville campaign since 2007, is also working with Claire Capelle, a nurse at St. Francis Hospital in Greenville, and the Diocese of Charleston to establish St. Clare’s Home, a maternity home for pregnant women with nowhere else to stay, in the Greenville Deanery.

That effort, which started in Simpsonville at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, is working hard to secure a home, Capelle said. In the meantime, the group has met with representatives from Good Counsel, a New Jersey-based non-profit corporation that operates six maternity homes in New York, New Jersey and Alabama, and offers classes on life skills and parenting to the women.

“They have agreed to come in and run our maternity home,” Capelle said.

Jack and Ann Schell, from Spartanburg, urged Capelle and Baronkin to “keep doing what you’re doing.”

The Schells, who have volunteered as sidewalk counselors outside the Greenville Women’s Clinic since the early 90s, recalled one instance several years ago involving a young pregnant woman with “no place to go.” Her only option was a maternity home in Blacksburg, 60 miles from Greenville.

“We desperately need a place here for these women,” Mrs. Schell said.

Figures from the 40 Days for Life campaign show the effort locally and beyond is working. Since its launch 11 years ago, the outreach has helped save more than 14,600 lives from abortion. In addition, 96 abortion facilities have closed, according to www.40daysforlife.com.

Those results, along with God’s grace, inspire the Greenville participants to continue moving forward.

“We’ve been working toward (the St. Clare Home) for six years … we’re not giving up,” Capelle said. “Our group has so much faith. If God wants something to happen — and I believe He does — it will happen.”

Capelle said establishing that first St. Clare Home could open the way to additional homes across the diocese.

“We’re hoping this becomes a movement that will lead to giving more women in crisis pregnancies real options,” she said.

Photo by Terry Cregar/Miscellany: Laura Beard and Jose Fonseca, members of the St. Mary Magdalene Life Band, share songs during the 40 Days for Life celebration Nov. 3.