Most mornings during Lent, Ron Konopaski can be found standing in front of the Planned Parenthood clinic in San Francisco’s Valencia Street, praying the rosary, handing out fliers and chatting with anyone who stops to talk.
“The whole idea is peaceful, prayerful vigil and we keep it that way,” Konopaski said.
For more than a decade, Konopaski has been a stalwart figure in the prayer campaigns held by San Francisco’s chapter of 40 Days for Life, and was given the Leader of the Year award in 2019 by the national organization. 40 Days for Life, which has chapters nationally, says it aims “to end abortion locally through prayer and fasting, community outreach, and a peaceful all-day vigil in front of abortion businesses.”
In San Francisco, volunteers for 40 Days pray from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday at Planned Parenthood’s Valencia Street clinic, and on Sundays hold vigil at the clinic being constructed on Bush Street.
This year’s campaign began on Feb. 26 and runs through April 5.
Clarisse Siu, who organizes San Francisco’s chapter of 40 Days, said their first week was the most successful in its history. An average of 3 people prayed outside Planned Parenthood clinics during any hour, she said, and they had the most signups they’ve ever seen.
Siu said their second week had been more challenging: few people signed up to pray Monday and Tuesday, and the campaign suffered two incidents of property theft.
On Monday, March 2, she said, “some skateboarding punks” took a pro-life sandwich board that volunteers bring with them and dumped it at a nearby hospital. Thursday of that same week, a man came by and ripped the 40 Days for Life banner off its pole and threw it in a dumpster. A local homeless man found and returned it to them, Siu said.
While the aggressive actions have made some people nervous, she said, “for everyone who’s there it’s par for the course.”
“It’s better than previous years because we’re not being physically attacked, it’s just people trying to steal our stuff,” she said.
Siu encouraged people to come out and give 40 Days for Life a try, even if only for 15 minutes to see what it is. “This is a lot less scary than you think it is,” she said. “The most important thing is that good people have to act. We have so many Catholics in San Francisco and only a fraction are going out,” she said.
To learn more about 40 Days for Life, call (408) 840-3297 or email [email protected]
Full story at Catholic San Francisco.