By Kathleen Gilbert

CHERRY HILL, New Jersey, February 26, 2009 ( – South Jersey pro-lifers were thrilled to receive the support of Bishop Joseph Galante, who led a prayer vigil outside a Cherry Hill abortion facility today to kick off the South Jersey chapter of 40 Days for Life.

About 30 people gathered in the February chill at the Cherry Hill Womens’ Center, where the Camden diocese bishop led a recitation of the rosary.  Bishop Galante then addressed the crowd, applauding them for fighting to end the “destruction of human life and the sadness of the women.” 

“I really believe that the only way abortion is overcome – it’s by conversion.  It’s conversion of heart, conversion of mind, conversion of life,” said Galante. 

“I think that the strongest impetus to conversion is what you do here – your prayer, your sacrifice in being willing to stand out here publicly in the cold and in bad weather – and also, to come with a quiet gentleness, to contrast the violent sadness that’s inside.

“So I thank you very much, and I thank you for having me come and praying with you,” the bishop concluded. 

Bishop Galante told that he was there “first to pray,” but also to support the 40 Days for Life crowd.  “I really wanted to, in a visible way – I already had written an affirmation of what’s being done – but I wanted to come and give some sign,” he said.

Pro-lifers, who received little notice of the visit, said that having the bishop present at the event was “awesome.”

“It’s great to have him present here to show his support in us, his little sheep, the good shepherd to be here with us and show us that we’re not alone,” said 40 Days for Life member Jesse Rosado.  “It helps hold you up in the cold and the rain.”

Jennifer Racancoj, who is in charge of the event, said his presence had a “tremendous impact.”

“He’s showing that he agrees with what we’re doing, that he endorses what we’re doing, that our organization is acceptable to the Church, and it will allow other priests who don’t even know who we are … to understand that we are a peaceful movement,” said Racancoj.

“I think it’s wonderful, and I think it might give some other bishops a little bit of courage, or priests … but we need our priests and our bishops,” said Racanoj’s mother.