Annual Display of Crosses at York and Madison Streets Grabs Drivers' Attention

Each cross represents an abortion; the display will be up during October.

(Credit: Karen Chadra)
(Credit: Karen Chadra)

Editor's Note: This article first was published in Oct. 2011. The crosses went up again at Visitation Parish on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013. Do you agree with the church sending its message this way? Do you agree with the message?



It's provocative, it's a conversation starter, it's a 14-year tradition at Visitation Catholic Church. And, many feel it is not only a mission, but an obligation of those in the Catholic faith.

Every October, in honor of Respect Life Month, about 30 parishioners get together on the lawn of Visitation to plant thousands of white crosses. This year, that day was Saturday, Oct. 1. 

Each cross represents one of the 4,000 abortions that occur each day, parishioner Paul Esposito said. 

"We installed approximately 3,675 crosses this year, and we will have the full 4,000 next year," he said.

This year, to go along with the church's major build-out and remodel, the display consists of new white crosses, made by the parishioners, themselves. And, for the first time, the vast majority of crosses can be seen in one area, on the west side of Visitation Parish along York Road.

"The new addition of a parish center to our church gave us a larger lawn on York Road," Esposito said. "Since York Road is busier than Madison Street, we lengthened the display on York to nearly the full length of the new parish center. We feel the new configuration of the display brings into better focus the staggering number of abortions performed in the U.S. each day and ensures more passersby see it."

Every year, the display elicits reaction on both sides of the abortion issue. 

Some people have said they completely avoid driving near the intersection of York and Madison streets while the display is up. One person yelled out, "abortion rocks!" as he drove by on Saturday, Esposito said. 

"On the other hand, another person engaged us in a long dialogue and gave us a financial contribution toward the maintenance and upkeep of the crosses," he said.

In addition to the new crosses, parishioners have added a new sign to the display this year. It includes a number for Project Rachel, for women who have had abortions.

"Project Rachel aids those who have been hurt by abortion to obtain healing and forgiveness," Esposito said. "We felt that this aspect of pro-life ministry was missing from our earlier signs and needed to be addressed."

The display will be on the church lawn until Oct. 22.

Jim Court October 06, 2013 at 09:09 AM
Abortion is a polarizing issue but I fully support the Churches use of this strong symbolism. This has nothing to do with separation of church and state. This is about values and convictions. I see myself as very open minded but in general do not support abortion. The concept of a womans right, if moved further along might just allow her to kill her chiidren if they were an inconvenience. You can be arrested for abusing a pet but you can abort a living fetus at will. Yes, there are a few reasons where it might seem acceptable but in general, I also strongly disagree with a liberal view of abortion.
jeandepuyloubier October 06, 2013 at 01:12 PM
Hello I ask the question, what will you do if your daughter is raped by black addict AIDS carrier?
NancyC October 07, 2013 at 08:31 AM
Seek justice and peace for the innocent. Another wrong will not make anyone better off.
marygil October 07, 2013 at 02:54 PM
The Church has the right and the obligation to help people understand how abortion does not solve any problem and is the cause of many that will come later. We are talking about a human being here. Society has really lost touch with humanity. People set up shelters to "save" DOGS from being euthanized, but it is OK to murder a human being, a child, your son or daughter? I don't see how that is in any way someones "right". Our society has some real back stepping to do in ways of respect for life. The loss of respect is rearing its ugly head in many aspects of our society. We have an obligation as children of God to stand up for the unborn children who have no voice in what happens to THEIR lives. I challenge you to learn all the facts of what abortion really is before spewing hateful taunts, or yelling out....only then, look deep inside yourself ad ask do I really believe it is OK to murder my own son or daughter?
Lawrence Gunther October 07, 2013 at 06:57 PM
As long as it wouldn't be a problem if the people across the street put up individual markers for every young person that has been sexually assaulted by a member of the catholic church, I see no problem with it.
Idont Givitout October 08, 2013 at 12:50 AM
Since you asked.... personally, I feel this is a waste of effort and this year materials. The volume of traffic on York Road past Visitations property is limited. It is generally also the same audience, that has seen the display for the last 14 or so years, and I would believe that a lot of the audience now has apathy... "There is the annual cross display", reducing the effectiveness of the meaning. At the same time, you have those on the other side of the issue that feels the church is being two-faced in that they do not condone abortion but at the same time does nothing to help a single parent in the raising of the "originally unwanted" child. The church has their proverbial head in the sand on this issue. Granted parenthood SHOULD be a planned and wanted event but in today's society, that is rarely the case. Bear in mind that the church has the archaic stance that the only time someone has sex, it is for the purpose of having a child, not the physical pleasure it may bring. The church does not condone contraception methods either, once again forcing one into abstinence. I am sure many of the abortions are in urban areas, and by in large associated with the underprivileged population, which skews number to a false representation of the norm. Consider the result that the ~1.4 Million abortions per year are also preventing this country from becoming similar to India or other Asian and African countries when indiscriminate sex results in huge population increases, which ultimately lead to large proportions of poor, under-provided population. Once again it is a religious reason for not allowing abortion, see where that got them? I think I have said more than my two cents worth so I will stop for now. In addition, Jean, I totally agree with your comment regardless of the ethnicity, not only should abortion be an option but also so should be required mandatory eunich-ification!
Zaria Zamek October 08, 2013 at 01:22 AM
This display offends me every year. I do not like having any religious beliefs shoved down my throat. And I was raised Catholic. What the Catholic church needs to do is to stand behind the mothers who choose to NOT have an abortion but who need help because they choose to keep their baby. What they do not need to do is to leave these mothers hanging on their own. They do not need to waste their time or money putting up crosses on their lawn, preaching to people who do not want to be preached to. If I wanted the church’s opinion I would attend a mass. In addition, instead of putting up crosses, perhaps the church might consider allowing their members to use something called birth control. Might cut down on the whole abortion thing.
NancyC October 08, 2013 at 08:38 AM
Dear Zaria if you would like to help the mothers who choose life you can donate right here: http://www.womanschoiceservices.com/ or here:http://www.helpaidforwomen.org/heathershouse or here:http://www.helpaidforwomen.org/ and here: http://www.gabrielproject.com/help.htm You are right, there is no time to waste, life is precious, you can give your time,talents, or your cash. God bless you.
NancyC October 08, 2013 at 08:53 AM
Dear Idont, I guess you and Margaret Sanger are on the same page. Did you know that 40% of births today are to single mothers? Did you know that single parent households are the greatest cause for the increase in poverty in this country? Poverty is a women's issue; female-headed families are more likely to be poor. In 2012, over five million more women than men were living below the poverty line; and two million more women than men were living in deep poverty. For women aged 18 to 64, the poverty rate was 15.4%, compared to 11.9% for men of the same age range. At 11%, the poverty rate for women aged 65 and older is almost double that of men aged 65 and older—6.6%. Families headed by a single adult are more likely to be headed by women, and these female-headed households are at a greater risk of poverty. Almost 31% of households headed by a single woman were living below the poverty line—nearly five times the 6.3% poverty rate for families headed by a married couple. For households headed by a single male, 16.4% were living in poverty. Exerpt taken from: http://www.nclej.org/poverty-in-the-us.php What do you recommend to help end this scourge, besides making it easier to get rid of the problem? Should we just ignore immorality and its consequences?
Zaria Zamek October 08, 2013 at 01:29 PM
Dear Nancy C, You totally missed my point. It is the Catholic church that should be helping these mothers. They are the ones who are against abortion and contraception. What I do with my money and time is my business. We are talking about those crosses here. Maybe what the church should do is set up a fund for these mothers - say, oh, $100 for each cross.
NancyC October 08, 2013 at 01:59 PM
The groups I gave you links for were all started by the Catholic church. It is the Catholic church helping these mothers, and fathers. I am certain non Catholics of like mind also support these organizations. I was inviting you to help also. After all it was your idea.
Idont Givitout October 08, 2013 at 04:18 PM
The Catholic church has billions of dollars worth of treasure and other resources they should liquidate and use to support their position. I personally have seen some of these in Poland. This is just like Oprah, "I have set up charities in my name that you can contribute to to help "????" and I get the tax credit without actually using my own monies"
Zaria Zamek October 08, 2013 at 05:16 PM
NancyC, Thank you. I did not know these organizations were started by the Catholic church. This is good to know and I am glad you pointed it out to me. The crosses still offend me, however. I appreciate your invitation to help as well.
Idont Givitout October 08, 2013 at 07:15 PM
No Nancy, personally I don't approve of abortion. I believe in planning. What needs to take place is more education to the youth of the results of promiscuity within the family. There is no need for young adolescents to quickly put themselves into a position where a life or death or poverty choice is to be made. But this is a subject perhaps for another forum. I do realize the result is single mothers that have limited ability to have a well paying career. Should we ignore morality and its consequences, no that is what good parenting is for. None of my sisters or I have had children out of wedlock because our parents taught us well. Had nothing to do with religion, although we were raised catholic (at IC). I got to know my future wife well for years before marriage and have been married for over 32 glorious years. We had children when it was time to and they also are on the correct path. But I am getting off topic again, sorry. Bottom line regarding the display, it certainly is within the property owners (the church) right to display their opinion. Should they be publicly emphasizing their position, well that is a good question. Lawrence, thank you, you made me chuckle!
Jim Court October 14, 2013 at 11:25 PM
Jean Although your example is extreme, I would support an abortion in instances like this. I am not even as opposed to very early abortions where a living and recognizable fetus does not exist. Late term abortions completely offend me. As it has been pointed out in the book Freakanomics, early term abortions for unwed mothers without social and financial support probably prevent children that grow up in poverty in a fatherless home and often end up very dysfunctional. Again, I am only talking about early term abortions. As a person I am often a centrist who strives to see both sides of an issue and factors in all of the consequences, intended and unintended. I still support the Churches right to free expression of their values and beliefs. It would be wrong to censor this expression. I must admit that their use of the symbolism of a cross representing the death of an unborn child is a very powerful and effective way to assert their position. Having the courage to take a stand is a good thing. I am for birth control yet realize the negative aspects of casual sex. Although I am a person of high drive, I want to care for a woman for the essence of her self and her femininity and not reduce her to body parts. I do admire in Corinthians where is states that "Love is the Greatest". The world could use more real love and eliminate all of the hatred and anger. I detest the epidemic of violence in all forms. We need to displace our frustrations in a more constructive way. At the same time I understand the impulse towards violence in certain circumstances. If you hurt a loved one for example, I would not turn the other cheek but I sure would try to turn yours. While I admire Jesus, I am not that perfect. At that point the Incredible Hulk or Rambo would be my role model.
NancyC October 16, 2013 at 12:22 PM
Here ya go Jim and all who think abortion is sometimes 'right': http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/10/15/auburn-universitys-new-homecoming-queen-and-her-abortion-story-are-gaining-national-attention/ Here's a story to ponder.
Idont Givitout October 16, 2013 at 02:51 PM
This story has nothing to do with the question of the effects of abortion. One success story of an offspring making good (if you call being homecoming queen good) does not address the issue. Now don't get me wrong, I am glad the young lady is doing well for herself, but this is more of an exception. This article also speaks nothing of what the mother (biological) endured. and how her life turned out because of it. It is great that there are "christian " agencies (non-Catholic) that will search for adoptive parents but in my experience that has not been the Catholic church going out of its way. Bottom line is single motherhood is tough.
Lawrence Gunther October 18, 2013 at 04:01 AM
Thank goodness its almost Halloween, there is nothing as frightening as somebody quoting a glenn beck owned website to try and win an argument.
NancyC October 18, 2013 at 07:23 AM
Larry is scared of good news and a happy ending! Wow what a topsy turvy time we live in. FYI this story has been covered by several other news sources, Mr. Beck happened to have the breaking story. That, in journalism, is usually rewarded with success, but, again, not in your screwy head.
NancyC October 18, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Maybe this will help you all: http://www.businessinsider.com/time-to-admit-it-the-church-has-always-been-right-on-birth-control-2012-2


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