The weather Wednesday carried a sting with it: Those who intended to partake in a prayer service on the sidewalk outside the Planned Parenthood clinic in the Heights needed some resolve and winter clothing.
The Catholic bishop of Great Falls-Billings intended to lead the event acknowledging the maternity of Mary, the mother of Christ, but he slid into the ditch near Eddie’s Corner on his drive from Great Falls.
However, a group of about 100 people, including children, withstood the damp air, sharp wind and occasional snow to pray the rosary at Planned Parenthood’s new clinic at the corner of Wicks Lane and Babcock.
The Most Rev. Anthony Milone, bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings, arrived in time to address those who attended Mass after the march from St. Bernard’s Catholic Church to the clinic and back. He joined the group for lunch.
"I wanted to be here for this statement about life and to pray for the pregnant women," he said. "We live in a society that seems to love death more than life."
He later spoke with The Gazette about abortion, the Terri Schiavo case and the death penalty.
The group gathered at St. Bernard’s on Wicks about 11:15 a.m. for instructions from leader John Moorhouse, a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s fraternal organization.
He asked everyone to be respectful, refrain from yelling and not to block the driveways of the clinic about a half mile to the west.
Some were carrying placards and Moorhouse said it was not necessary to display photos of "mutilated babies."
"Remember what we are here for," he said.
With Moorhouse carrying a small processional crucifix, the group walked from the church to the clinic on the south side of the east-west arterial street in the Heights. Participants were greeted with horns from passersby.
While the prayerful protestors did not call ahead, officials of Planned Parenthood were expecting the crowd.
"Some of our staff members are Catholic," said Diana Baldwin, director of human resources and security for Planned Parenthood clinics in Montana. "For several years on the Wednesday before Easter they have held a vigil."
"They are nice people," said Sarah Fredrickson, the volunteer coordinator. "They are no hassle." [Source]