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.