Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Dec
  • 26

Vigils at empty manger

Posted By December 26, 2013 | 1:22 pm | Lead Story #2
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By Tanya Connor

In preparing to celebrate Jesus’ birth, some local Catholics held vigils for children who were killed or are missing, using an empty manger to signify their absence.
Last Saturday groups set up empty mangers, sang Christmas carols and prayed outside Planned Parenthood facilities in Worcester and Fitchburg. Planned Parenthood is a leading provider of abortion in the country.
In Fitchburg the manger was accompanied by a child’s bed set up outside the Main Street public parking garage, according to organizer Joyce Aucoin, coordinator of the Respect Life ministry of St. Bernard Parish. Christmas ornaments with pictures of missing children, including 5-year-old Jeremiah Oliver of Fitchburg, and pictures of those children who were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last December, were placed in the bed, she said.
Passersby responded positively, she said, unlike when they simply hold a vigil against abortion at the same location. One man brought a young child over and pointed out one of the Sandy Hook children’s pictures, she said.
She said this was the second Advent the group held this type of vigil and that 10 people participated. Afterwards they went to the pro-life agency Care Net Pregnancy Resource Center for refreshments.
“Don’t the words mean different things when we’re standing across from this place?” Julie Koss-Stephany asked those who sang and prayed outside the Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Worcester.
Mrs. Koss-Stephany, chairwoman of the Grafton Catholic Churches Pro-life Ministry, said they modeled their vigil after the national Pro-Life Action League’s Empty Manger Project. This was the second consecutive year. They increased the number of vigils this year from one to four, corresponding to the weeks of Advent.
“These children that we’re killing could have been the Christ Child. He had the same beginning, growing in his mother’s womb for nine months like we did,” Mrs. Koss-Stephany said.