Volunteers give time and effort to end abortion Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017 -- 12:00 AM
MADISON -- When Mary Markielewski retired from her job as a psychiatric nurse at the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison, she found herself “seeking to do the will of God.”

In recent years, she has tried to live this out by praying outside the Planned Parenthood clinic on Madison’s east side for an end to abortion.

She is also a week captain for Vigil for Life’s 365 for Life and 40 Days for Life campaigns, making sure the hours outside the clinic are filled with participants.

In addition to being a board member of Vigil for Life, she is also a sidewalk counselor, talking to women who may be on their way to entering the clinic, which performs abortions and provides birth control.

Being a presence

For Markielewski — a member of St. John the Baptist Parish in Waunakee — it’s all about “being the presence for the culture of life, knowing that this work is the Lord’s work and that we don’t really know what the invisible effects are in the war between good and evil.”

She has put in hundreds of hours on the sidewalk praying, meeting others, and counseling as needed.

One memorable experience taught her just being present can have an important impact, even if one isn’t trained as a sidewalk counselor.

She and a fellow prayer warrior were approached on the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood by a woman who told them she would see people standing outside the clinic with pro-life signs and pictures as she commuted every day.

This woman later became pregnant and had an appointment for an abortion.

As the woman remembered “seeing people out there devoted” to ending abortion, she canceled her appointment and now is a mother of twins.

“The thing that was so amazing about her was the joy and the gratitude that she had that she didn’t destroy those twins,” said Markielewski.

Starting with prayer

Even in the colder months, she is still at the site, praying for the unborn.

Sometimes she prays from her car to protect herself from the elements, but maintains her presence.

“It takes prayer,” she said. “It’s God’s work to save a life and to bring people back to the truth.”

She encouraged anyone who wants to see an end to abortion to get involved with the efforts.

There are occasional classes for sidewalk counselors and those who want to pray at the site will not be alone. Someone with experience can always be out there at the same time.

For those that can’t physically be at the site, Markielewski said, “We do encourage people to pray from home because not everyone can be out there physically.”

For more information, call Gwen Finnegan, Vigil for Life campaign coordinator, at 608-393-8545 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it