Candlelight vigils illuminate respect for life
By Christina Leslie | Correspondent
Faithful stood up for the sanctity of life April 13 during two candlelight vigils held outside Monmouth County Planned Parenthood offices.
Arminda Rubio-Pitio of St. Clement Parish, Matawan, led a group of about 50 people from surrounding parishes to protest outside Shrewsbury’s Newman Springs Road facility. The 90-minute vigil at dusk attracted about 50 people who recited the Rosary’s Luminous, Sorrowful, Joyful and Glorious Mysteries; the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and other prayers.
Though it was her first time as leader of a candlelight vigil, Rubio-Pitio is no stranger to the respect life movement.
“I have been leading protests at Planned Parenthood for the last three years,” Rubio-Pitio said. “We normally have one in the early spring and one in the fall. We also have the Stations of the Cross for the victims of abortion on Good Friday each year.”
Her parish instituted a respect life ministry this past September, she reported, and rejoices in the support of her pastor, Father Thomas Vala, in their efforts.
Rubio-Pitio explained the motivation behind her family’s strong pro-life stance, asserting, “It’s important to attend pro-life events… to be a witness of faith to our society and most specially, to our youth. If we, as Christians, believe that abortion is murder, then we need to stand up and fight to change the laws.”
She concluded, “I’m very encouraged, though, that there are many in our state who feel the same way, and I look forward to continuing this fight to change our society for the better.”
The vigil attracted faithful from other surrounding parishes as well.
Janice Barrett, one of seven parishioners from St. Gabriel, Matawan, noted, “It was a wonderful blessing being there among all the pro-lifers praying.”
Other faithful journeyed to West Main Street in Freehold to protest at that town’s Planned Parenthood facility, located across the street from CentraState Hospital. Tom Panettiere, Respect Life representative from the town’s St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, led a group of about 35 people, of all ages and faiths, in a peaceful protest.
“They ranged in age from about eight years old to my 87-year-old mother-in-law,” Panettiere reported. “Most were from St. Robert’s, but we had several from St. Veronica (Howell), St. Rose of Lima (Freehold), the (First United) Methodist Church (Freehold), and Cornerstone Calvary Chapel (Howell). Respect for life is not just a Catholic issue, it’s a life issue.”
Holding lit candles and homemade signs decrying death, the faithful recited the Rosary and other prayers for an hour at dusk as drivers on the busy thoroughfare expressed their solidarity with a beep of their horn or a shouted, “Keep up the good work.”
“This was an educational process,” Panettiere said. “Lots of people don’t even know there is a Planned Parenthood office there. They have their talking points, saying they are about women’s healthcare. We have no problem with them if they just stop doing abortions.”