Quincy Night 4 Life to promote pro-life awareness, action

QUINCY -- The Night 4 Life, an occasion to prayerfully celebrate the gift of life and raise awareness of ways to build a culture of life, will take place on June 17 at the Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy.

This event will be the second of its kind, the first having taken place in 2019. The second Night 4 Life was originally scheduled for 2020 but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Sponsored primarily by the Flatley Foundation, this event is being organized through the collaboration of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth and the Men of the Divine Mercy prayer group at Divine Mercy Parish, Quincy.

The Night 4 Life will feature music, Eucharistic adoration, praying the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary, and witness talks from notable pro-life speakers.

Prayer is a central part of the event, as Mother Olga Yaqob, the founder of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth, explained in a June 4 interview.

She cited the power of prayer and fasting in pro-life work and said that if the Night 4 Life continues as an annual event, adoration and the rosary will always be at the heart of it.

"Before we become warriors on the ground to defend the culture of life, we also have to be warriors at heart through our prayers, fasting, and sacrifices for the transformation of our culture and the promotion of the sanctity of life," she said.

A Night 4 Life is also an opportunity to educate people about abortion and the pro-life movement, and to raise awareness of the resources available to women who are in crisis pregnancies or have had abortions in the past.

The two keynote speakers will be Benjamin Watson and Abby Johnson, both of whom have a great deal of professional knowledge as well as personal experience of the pro-life movement. Watson, a National Football League veteran, has written two books and executive produced the documentary "Divided Hearts of America," in which he explores the history of abortion in the United States. Johnson is the founder of And Then There Were None, a ministry that has helped over 500 workers transition out of the abortion industry. She documented her conversion from Planned Parenthood manager to pro-life advocate in her memoir "Unplanned," which was adapted into a 2019 movie.

"I feel both of them are very strong, outspoken people about the gift of life, both through their speaking engagements (and) their own personal life and testimonies," Mother Olga said.

A Night 4 Life will close with remarks from Quincy Mayor Thomas P. Koch and a benediction from Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley.

"It's a prayerful night, it's a night of celebration, but also a night of raising awareness, and speaking the truth with compassion, offering resources for people, how to be involved and how to be compassionate, helping other women who might be in pregnancy crisis or experience abortion, and how we can offer them healing and outreach." Mother Olga said.

In her view, she said, "truth and compassion are the two sides of the same coin."

"We want to offer whatever we can for every person, because I believe only when we come together with love and understanding, and all that is bounded by truth, we can really build a culture of life again in our nation," she said.

A variety of local pro-life organizations will be present at the Night 4 Life to provide information about available resources. Among them will be Friends of the Unborn, 40 Days for Life, Massachusetts Citizens for Life, Boston Center for Pregnancy Choices, Knights of Columbus Culture of Life, and the Archdiocesan Pro-Life Office, which includes Pregnancy Help and Project Rachel.

"I think of words and action through resources and ministries (as) like the two lungs we need to breathe the culture of life wherever we go, and the power of prayer and fasting is like the body that carries the two lungs," Mother Olga said.

The Daughters of Mary of Nazareth regularly minister to the mothers and children at Friends of the Unborn, a maternity shelter and program in Quincy. The Daughters have continued this work throughout the pandemic, teaching classes, offering spiritual support, and holding special events for the mothers, many of whom stay in contact with them years after going through the program.

Mother Olga also has experience accompanying people who have lost a child. To honor them, she recently designed a memorial on the Daughters' property to honor children lost to abortion or miscarriage and their parents. They hope to dedicate it on Father's Day.

"We really wanted to do something to honor all these parents and the babies who are in heaven," Mother Olga said.

The memorial will consist of stones in the shape of a heart, with the names of babies engraved on the stones. Mother Olga said she thought of the shape because a piece of the parents' hearts will always be missing, and she wanted them to see a heart being healed.

"We wanted to have a space for families to come and pray, and celebrate the gift of life of their babies, but also give them comfort and consolation," she said.

Mother Olga said she wants to invite people to pray, not only for the success of the Night 4 Life but for the pro-life movement throughout the United States.

A Night 4 Life will take place at 5:30 p.m. on June 17 at the Veterans Memorial Stadium. In addition to being recorded, it will be live-streamed so people can participate remotely. More information about the event and videos of the 2019 Night 4 Life are available at www.night4life.com.