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Two-Pronged Vigil Ups Pro-Life Participation


Holy Family Catholic Church
St. Louis Park, MN
Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis
United States

Simultaneous prayer vigils at abortion clinic and parish, followed by Mass with candles representing aborted babies, multiply parish pro-life efforts.

"If we want to rebuild our Catholic Churches and our Catholic Culture, this is where we begin." Fr Thomas Dufner, Pastor

"The Feast of the Holy Innocents event has increased awareness and the number of people praying... There can be 100 people that gather at the clinic (Remember, it's cold in Minnesota in December!)." Susan Pitman, parishioner and participant

The need it meets

  • To involve a wider variety of parishioners in pro-life prayer and action
  • To increase awareness of the evil and extent of abortion
  • To combine more effectively prayer and action in promoting the culture of life

Where it came from

It emerged spontaneously from the parish's twelve-year tradition of praying the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet at a local abortion clinic every Saturday morning.

How it works

  • The prayer vigil/Mass is held either on the Feast of the Holy Innocents (Dec 28) or The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and of the unborn (Dec 12).
  • At 3:30 PM, one group goes to the abortion clinic while a second group (including children) gathers in the church.
  • A large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a candle stand with 50 lit candles (each representing 1 million children lost through abortion in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade) are placed in the right side of the sanctuary.
  • The priest leads a procession praying the Rosary/Divine Mercy Chaplet at the abortion clinic while children lead these same prayers in church.
  • The two groups reunite for a 5:00 PM Mass dedicated to the aborted babies and their parents.
  • The Knights of Columbus march in procession during the Mass.
  • The purpose of the vigil is explained in the Mass program/bulletin and during the homily.
  • After Holy Communion, the children present 50 roses to Our Lady in front of her image.
  • A dinner after Mass further promotes awareness and unity.

The results

  • Heightened awareness of the extent of abortion and the need for prayer to convert hearts
  • The number of people praying weekly at the clinic increased noticeably after the candlelight Mass

Key elements

  • Pastor and parish work together
  • Symbolism of the candles (which are used only for this event) explained thoroughly (from pulpit, in bulletin and program)
  • Timely distribution of detailed promotional fliers
  • Pro-life prayer continued throughout the year

How to implement it

  • Pray for success
  • Parish pro-life group should coordinate the event with the liturgist, the Knights of Columbus, and an assigned children's coordinator
  • Find a volunteer to make or fundraise for the candle holder
  • Promote through homilies/talks during the weeks leading up to the vigil
  • Deliver promotional fliers to all adoration chapels in diocese

For more information email Fr Thomas Dufner at

Fr. Thomas Dufner is pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church.

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