Lucy, left, and her mother, Carol Goodwin, of St. Henry in Monticello hold a pro-life sign at the annual Prayer Service for Life Jan. 22 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul. Photos by Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

People came by school bus, city and coach buses, in cars and on foot.

More than 2,000 people, filling to standing-room-only the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul Jan. 22 for the annual Prayer Service for Life. 

With Bishop John LeVoir of New Ulm delivering a homily, with prayers, hymns and Scripture readings, the service commemorated the millions of lives lost to abortion since 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide. Bishop LeVoir also noted the efforts, including emergency pregnancy centers in communities across the country, to help men and women choose life.

Bishop John LeVoir delivers the homily at the annual Prayer Service for Life Jan. 22 at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul.

After the prayer service, most of the congregation joined thousands of others in a march to the nearby State Capitol, organized by Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life. 

The stream of people included Michelle Covington, 25, of St. Hubert in Chanhassen, and her sister, Natalie, 18, of Our Lady of the Prairie in Belle Plaine.

“I have the day off and it’s something I feel very passionate about,” said Michelle, who was participating in her second prayer service and march.

Natalie said it was her fifth time at the gatherings in St. Paul. She went to the March for Life in Washington, D.C., last year.   

“It is the most important issue going on in the world today,” she said of the battle against abortion. “I want to be a voice for the voiceless.”

In his homily, Bishop LeVoir mourned the immense loss brought by Roe v. Wade. More than 60 million abortions have been performed in the United States since that decision. 

“We’re missing all of those millions of people that would have made a tremendous difference in our country and in the world,” the bishop said. 

“How many heroes have been lost? How many scientists? How many doctors? How many laborers, how many carpenters, how many plumbers? We really have suffered these last years because we’ve missed our brothers and sisters among us.”

As Pope Francis and St. John Paul II have urged, “we must stand up for life,” Bishop LeVoir said. “We can make a difference. We are not powerless. We have the power of God.”

Prayer and action for life must continue, the bishop said. The rosary is one of the most powerful prayers, calling on the Virgin Mary, the mother of God, as our protector, he said.

Mary works lovingly, gently, but very surely, through her son, Jesus, to destroy evil and bring life into the world, Bishop LeVoir said.

“And so we pray, and we work. And if we can believe statistics, and sometimes we can’t, but if we can believe statistics, our prayer and our work is doing good,” he said. “More people’s hearts are changed, more conversion is taking place.”