By Michael Baggot
  WASHINGTON, D.C., April 29, 2008 ( – Sacrificing their precious sleep and leisure time, more than 70 students from Virginia’s Christendom College filled the lawns outside a D.C. Planned Parenthood (PP) clinic on Saturday morning to prayerfully battle abortion and support a handful of student sidewalk counselors offering information on crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to women entering and exiting the facility.
Saturday’s “Mega-Shield” event was the culminating event of the semester for Shield of Roses, a Christendom pro-life group comprised of students who travel about an hour and fifteen minutes each Saturday morning to the nearest PP facility.  Most of the students attend a 7am Mass offered on campus before piling into school vans or personal vehicles.

Paul Wilson, the current student head of Shield of Roses, promotes Shield on campus and leads a program of prayer that includes 20 decades of the Rosary, traditional hymns, and the chaplet of Divine Mercy.  Members of the college choir also sing beautiful polyphonic pieces that sharply contrast with the insults and profanity sometimes thrown at the group by passers-by.

About two decades ago, a doctor told Wilson’s mother that her healthy college sophomore would be born retarded and should thus be aborted.  His mother’s decision to choose life has given Wilson a special motivation to work on behalf of those threatened by abortion.

“It’s painful to watch people go in there [PP],” Wilson told  “Evil has to be confronted.”

Wilson and fellow Shield members’ commitment to prayer is rooted in their conviction that it is only “through God that we can do anything at all.”

In addition to the many students focused on prayer, a number of students take part in sidewalk counseling.

Student counselors try to teach women about the dangerous practices occurring inside PP and inform them about abortion alternatives.  They also give interested women brochures detailing the harmful effects of abortion and contraception, as well as contact information for local CPCs.

“There are a lot of women who just don’t know there are crisis pregnancy centers,” Kathryn Kujawaski, the current Director of Sidewalk Counseling, told

Students interested in sidewalk counseling first spend time closely observing experienced counselors and watch a video from expert counselor Msgr. Philip J. Reilly, founder of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.

Counseling is meant to be a calm, compassionate invitation to women to explore alternatives to PP services, explained Kujawaski.  Counselors should “not be overbearing,” since the students are seeking to approach the women with a “prayerful, peaceful attitude.”
  When a counseled woman decides not to go through with an abortion, a Shield member often announces the “save” to the campus community during lunch on Monday.  Report of a “save” fills the cafeteria with applause and strengthens the resolve of Shield members.
“When there are turn arounds, it’s a reminder that there are people who need help and don’t have information.”
“Saves” often happen when least expected.  Kujawski recalled that one turn around came on a cold, snowy, December morning when student turnout was at a low due to upcoming finals.
“God shows us our efforts do have fruits, even if we don’t always see them,” said Kujawski.

As another semester of Shield draws to a close, Wilson, Kujawski, and other experienced Shield members have worked to train a new group of students, so that each Saturday morning the concluding battle cry of the group can still be heard in the nation’s capital, “Viva Christo Rey!” Long live Christ the King!

See related coverage:
  Virginia Students Prepare for 28th Year of Student-Initiated Sidewalk Counseling/Prayer
  Thoughts of a Sidewalk Counselor
  Daniel Heenan’s Account of Battling the Abortion Business and Washington D.C. Police

Learn more about sidewalk counseling: