I am sure there are a wide variety of experiences from many places in Canada where Life Chains were held this past Sunday (It will also take place in the US and other Canadian cities Sun. Oct. 7 and on later dates. See full list here).

At my own parish in Toronto, Ontario, we had the best turnout ever, especially thanks to the enthusiastic support of our pastor and associate pastor. That is the main key to success or disappointment related to this annual, life-saving, one hour event.

We were blessed at St. Lawrence Martyr parish to have heard an exceptional, scripturally inspired homily last week from the associate pastor that encouraged Life Chain participation. Also, two weeks in a row there were bulletin announcements and the pastor and the parish Knights of Columbus council gave full support for the event. The three priests resident in the parish were out on the street with their parishioners. All this resulted in a many years’ record-breaking 92 or more participants. It was still a tinyl percentage of the parish community, but that number can and did make a big impact.

On the other hand, some other parishes and churches of various denominations reported dismal participation due to poor or non-existent support from their pastors. Such lack of support is incomprehensible, but unfortunately it does happen. What a sad loss for their Church community, but especially for all those who would have otherwise been influenced and babies and mothers saved from abortion because of that powerful and yet very simple public witness for life.

Our group heard much supportive honking and saw many thumbs up given by people in the large volume of cars passing up by for that one hour from 2 to 3 p.m. Many of the Life Chain participants did not expect such a reaction. But that is what usually happens when a long line of pro-life message signs are suddenly seen by those driving by. It’s really impressive.

Most significant are the women and men who silently stare as they go by. From past experience, I know they are the ones the Life Chain message influences the most. We cause them to see, repeated on sign after sign as they drive by, a message that they may never have seen before. We cause them to think, as they have never thought, about this issue. I have no doubt that some of them make positive, life changing decisions just from that one drive by. It is amazing.

And yet, we never know how many we have affected and for how long, but I am sure it is far more than we realize.

At the beginning, as one participant after another cautiously received their signs and took up their position beside the busy road, I could see some anxiety and anticipation about what would happen as they undertook this uncomfortably public, seemingly controversial action.

By the end of the hour, the mood was quite different and upbeat. We all knew that we had made a difference and we served God well. There was a lot of laughter and chatter as they congregated for the group photo.

Life Chain not only affects those who pass by the signs, it also gives a better understanding and increased sense of pro-life commitment to those who participate.

Some groups are larger and many smaller than ours was, but in all cases they are certain to have touched someone. Actually, every LifeChain that takes place, no matter how large or small, is a success, but it is likely to be even more so if the numbers are larger. That usually gives more credibility to the witness that could influence even more passersby.

If you have not yet participated in a Life Chain, please do so if one is still coming up or next year if it has already taken place in your community. It is a very good thing to do. It requires so little of you. Just a yes to be with God for one hour beside a road to pray for life while holding a life message.