Hundreds Promote Life At Old Alabama Life Chain
Published: October 9, 2008
Dan Connolly of St. Brigid Church, Johns Creek, recites the rosary during the Life Chain. (Photos by Michael Alexander)
JOHNS CREEK—Stretching more than a quarter mile down a heavily trafficked portion of Old Alabama Road near St. Brigid Church, hundreds of Catholics came together in silent solidarity Oct. 5 to promote life at a Life Chain honoring Respect Life Sunday.
For one hour, teenagers, young couples with children and their elders lined the sidewalks along the road, clutching signs in hopes of bringing the issue of abortion to the forefront of the minds of those driving by.
The gathering represented one of nearly 50 Life Chains held throughout the Archdiocese of Atlanta on Respect Life Sunday, always held the first Sunday in October, which begins Respect Life Month, a month-long program that sees various Catholic parishes and organizations sponsoring educational conferences and prayer services aimed at encouraging their neighbors to respect life without exception.
In its 21st year, Life Chain is meant to be a peaceful, prayerful and non-confrontational way to show support for unborn babies and their mothers.
David Clarke, front, joins a contingent of silent protesters along Old Alabama Road during the 2008 Life Chain.
“Adoption, the Loving Option,” “Life, the First Inalienable Right,” and “Pray to End Abortion” were just a few of the messages that met the eyes of Georgians driving along that stretch of road on Sunday.
Many also held rosaries or prayed with their eyes closed while others read the information on the backs of their signs, including guidelines for Life Chain conduct. The suggestions asked participants to be humble yet bold in their witness and also asked those involved with the demonstration to be courteous, helpful to those around them and not to respond to passing motorists.
Elizabeth Corsetti, a middle school youth minister and parishioner at St. Brigid Church, who also leads the parish’s confirmation program, was present at this year’s Life Chain, marking her fourth appearance in recent years.
Corsetti said it was a necessary event and she felt it was important to share the time with her local community.
“I do this because I believe in it,” she said, adding that an hour is a short period of time to donate for such a good cause.
John Baker, who has been a parishioner at St. Brigid Church since 2002, serves with the Pro-Life League and volunteered at the gathering where he handed out signs and buttons and directed participants to appropriate places to witness.
Gilbert Banzon faces Old Alabama Road as he participates in Oct. 5 Life Chain in Johns Creek.
Baker said he was there because “the Fifth Commandment has been violated since 1973 and it is as simple as that.”
He joined the pro-life ministry after he drove into a parking lot for Mass a few years ago and saw a car with a bumper sticker that read, “Catholics for Free Choice.” Since then, Baker has been closely involved with pro-life efforts in Atlanta. Sunday was his second Life Chain.
Like the Life Chain participants, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops strongly promotes the idea that something needs to be done regarding the issue of abortion. In a statement for Respect Life Sunday released Sept. 30, Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, addressed the need for Catholics to come together on this important topic.
“We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives. We cannot subject more women and men to the post-abortion grief and suffering that our counselors and priests encounter daily in Project Rachel programs across America,” he wrote in his statement.
Kathy Chunco worked at the table in the parking lot of St. Brigid Church, where Life Chain participants picked up their signs and buttons. Chunco is a member of the parish Respect Life Ministry.
Project Rachel is a counseling program sponsored by the Catholic Church that was established to provide free professional and confidential counseling, reconciliation and spiritual direction to those who have been affected by abortion.
While the Life Chain participants at St. Brigid were exposed to different reactions from motorists, the responses were overwhelming positive. Countless drivers sounded supportive honks before giving a thumbs-up or waving at the crowd.
Kathy Chunco, a parishioner of St. Brigid Church, joined Baker in handing out signs and directing traffic for the day. She said that the Life Chain was named Old Alabama Life Chain instead of St. Brigid Life Chain because of their hopes that all nearby churches will eventually join their efforts to create a much longer trail of participants.
Chunco, a member of the Respect Life Committee, has been involved with Life Chains since 1987 and originally participated in the Peachtree Street Life Chain, which the archbishop of Atlanta customarily attends.
The first Life Chain was held in 1987 by Please Let Me Live Inc., a pro-life ministry in Yuba City, Calif. Half of the churches of Yuba and Sutter counties held “Abortion Kills Children” signs on both sides of the street.
According to LifeChain.net, a Web site organized by Sharron Albertson, the Texas Life Chain Coordinator, in September 1989, 101 churches in Bakersfield, Calif., built the second Life Chain with 7,500 participants.
Not long after, many other California cities followed, including Riverside, Fresno and Sacramento, as well as San Diego, which saw as many as 320 churches with 28,000 people participating.
Since then, Life Chains have spread to every state throughout the U.S. and have even reached several provinces in Canada.
Cardinal Rigali closed his 2008 Respect Life statement with an encouraging message about the respect for life, which should reach beyond victims of abortion.
“In this Respect Life Month, let us rededicate ourselves to defending the basic rights of those who are weakest and most marginalized: the poor, the homeless, the innocent unborn, and the frail and elderly who need our respect and our assistance,” he wrote. “In this and in so many ways we will truly build a culture of life.”
Al and Daphne Nordone display a viable option to terminating a pregnancy. The couple was also joined by their daughter Gabrielle (not pictured).