Every year since 1974, SCRTL has organized a Candlelight Vigil on or near January 22. Normally, between one and two hundred people gather at the court square in downtown Sidney for the event, which marks the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision of 1973 that legalized abortion in the United States. Beginning in the basement of the courthouse (east side entrance), the vigil commences with a prayer by area clergy, followed by a candlelight procession around the courthouse. Many years, buses have departed from the vigil for the National March for Life in Washington, DC.
2020 Candlelight Vigil Speaker Shares Story of Hope
January 22, 2020—Around 75 people gathered at the courthouse in downtown Sidney for the annual Pro-Life Candlelight Vigil, which marks the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision of 1973 that legalized abortion in the United States. Beginning in the basement of the courthouse, the vigil commenced with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Program Director, Anne Schmiesing, addressed the crowd providing information about programs for post-abortion healing. A guest speaker, Holly Schieffer, then shared her story of a successful adoption and one that fell through due to an abortion; she and her husband also have a 14-month old daughter, conceived after a diagnosis of infertility. A candlelight procession around the courthouse followed the talks. Participants returned to the building for concluding remarks and prayer.
The event is sponsored by Shelby County Right to Life. The Sidney Council of the Knights of Columbus provided refreshments following the event.
2019 Vigil Celebrates Adoption
Right to Life's annual candlelight vigil marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade was in 2019 "A Celebration of Adoption." The event, held on Tuesday, January 22, focused on the blessing of adoption as an alternative to abortion and highlighted adoptive families among RTL's membership.
Pastor Jon Shriber of St. John's Lutheran Church in Sidney, a longtime friend of RTL, shared about the central and ongoing role of adoption in his life as an adopted child and later as an adoptive father. Members Ken and Shelly York of Russia spoke movingly about God's continual intervention in the growing of their family to seven children, five of whom are adopted.
The group of about 75 prayed a psalm together and then processed by candlelight around the court square, many holding signs with the message, "Adoption: The Loving Option."
Right to Life Vigil Draws Crowd to Court Square (2018)
More than 75 people from across Shelby County gathered at the courthouse Monday evening to mark the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Father Peter Langenkamp, parochial vicar of Holy Angels Catholic Church, led the group in prayer, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance. Right to Life’s program director, Kevin Schmiesing, presented a history of Roe v. Wade its companion decision, Doe v. Bolton, highlighting the conversions of Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe) and Sandra Cano (Jane Doe), who both later regretted their involvement in the abortion cases and became pro-life activists.
The group then processed around the court square holding candles, in silent prayer and remembrance for all victims of abortion. The program closed with an address by Right to Life volunteer Nan Martino, who explained how the group’s thrift shop serves the needs of the community by providing both low-cost baby supplies and many forms of personal assistance. Martino encouraged others to get involved as well. “Outside of raising my own family,” she said, “my work with Right to Life has been the most rewarding experience of my life."
Nearly 200 Process in Annual Candlelight Vigil (2017)
It was a balmy 50 degrees at 7pm on Sunday, January 22, as nearly 200 area pro-lifers gathered at the courthouse in Sidney to mark the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
RTL program director Kevin Schmiesing emceed the event, and led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance. Joe Timmerman explained the significant of the "Soles for Souls" casket, an exhibit that contains dozens of baby shoes as a symbol of the children lost to abortion each day. After praying a psalm together, the crowd moved outside while musicians from Sidney Apostolic Temple provided music for reflection.
When the participants had returned to the courthouse basement, Henry Cordonnier spoke briefly about the work of his son-in-law in the new President Donald Trump Administration. Membership committee member Robert Luckey testified to the importance of the pro-life cause. Father Martin Fox, pastor of St. Remy Church in Russia, concluded the program with a closing prayer.
Thank you to all who attended and assisted with the vigil. It was a great crowd and meaningful evening of prayer and reflection on the sanctity of life.
Shelby County Shows Pro-Life Colors at Vigil, March for Life (2015)
On Wednesday, January 21, Kevin Schmiesing, Program Director for Right to Life of Shelby County welcomed over 200 pro-lifers to the Candlelight Vigil commemorating the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand. He shared stories from women who regretted the bitter experience of abortion and had found healing in the pro-life movement through a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat.
Nino Vitale, the newly elected representative from the 85th Ohio House District reminded those present that “Each person is unique and has been given life with a purpose by the Author of Life Himself. Twenty years ago, my sister was told that her unborn child had a spot on her brain and that the family should consider ‘alternatives’. Because of that family’s courage, my niece was given life and graduated with honors from high school.”
He shared that the single most important piece of legislation is the Heartbeat Bill. “Legally, this bill is designed to pass a legislature and fail in the court system until it reaches the Supreme Court where it will challenge ‘Roe v. Wade’.” Although the bill did not pass the Ohio legislature last session, the hard work of grassroots activists resulted in 29 co-sponsors for the current session. A March vote is now scheduled.
Vitale said, “Doing what is good, true, and beautiful does not depend upon the actions of others. What is true is true even if only one person believes it. And what is wrong is wrong even if millions believe it. While we must push forward with legislation, we can save babies right here and right now by changing hearts and minds. By changing one mother’s heart, we can save that baby.” Mr. Vitale left those gathered with a question: “If we are a movement that cares about a child having a good life past birth and if we want a child to have that life with their own mother and father whenever possible, is it pro-life to take away that chance by redefining marriage?"
He reminded those born after 1973, that they survived the abortion holocaust and that they should thank their parents for saying “Yes” to life. He concluded, “ God bless you and God bless our state and country.”
Ann Cordonnier, thrift shop manager for Right to Life of Shelby County shared stories about how those who are caring for children find the thrift shop to be a place they can go to for help and resources. Those who have lost their lives by abortion or been wounded by their participation in abortion were commemorated during the silent candlelight procession around the courthouse.
Near the conclusion of the event, Schmiesing announced upcoming Right to Life events including the Pro-life Oratory Contest on February 16; the Russia Garage Sale on March 26-28; and the Golf Outing on May 9. The vigil concluded with a psalm and prayer offered by Larry Novak, intern at St. John’s Lutheran Church
Following the vigil, a busload of Shelby Countians left for Washington, D. C. for the January 22 Catholic Rally and Youth Mass and then the March for Life. They joined hundreds of thousands of other pro-lifers who traveled from all over the country to pray and march down Constitution Avenue toward the Supreme Court building.
Candlelight Vigil Turns into Prayer Service (2014)
Due to single-digit temperatures, the annual candlelight vigil was held inside the courthouse this year, as a pro-life prayer service replaced the traditional candlelight procession around the court square.
Both Shelby County buses to the March for Life were also cancelled due to weather, leading to a smaller crowd than usual. Still, 75 hardy souls showed up for a moving and meaningful period of prayer for our nation, for our communities, and for all those touched by abortion. (At left, attendees begin the ceremony with the Pledge of Allegiance.)
We are grateful to all who participated in the vigil, including: Pastor Jon Schriber, who offered the opening prayer; Brian and Terry who provided music; and Fr. Frank Amberger, who offered the closing prayer.
Special thanks to event chairman Tim Bodenhorn, and to the Knights of Columbus for furnishing refreshments.