50th Annual Day of Prayer for Life to be celebrated June 19

Managing Editor 

TEUTOPOLIS — On Wednesday, June 19 the 50th Annual Day of Prayer for Life will be held at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 203 E. Main St. in Teutopolis. That day Effingham Area Right to Life (formerly Effingham County Right to Life) and St. Francis Church once again invite everyone to come and pray for renewed respect for all human life, and reparation for our nation, for allowing 65 million preborn human lives to be ended since 1973, said Angie Esker,  the chairperson of the Day of Prayer for Life and the chair of the St. Francis Social Concerns Committee.

The year’s Day of Prayer will begin with Mass at 8 a.m., followed by Eucharistic Exposition and Adoration. Following 10 hours of adoration by groups from a number of parishes from various towns, organizations, and the Knights of Columbus Councils, Benediction will take place at 7 p.m.  In honor of the 50-year anniversary of the event, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki will be the celebrant of the closing Mass, which will take place at 7:30 p.m. Refreshments will follow in St. Clare Hall, which is adjoining to the church. 

The Day of Prayer was initially started thanks to the late Loretta (Mrs. Jack) Koester, a board member of Effingham County Right to Life, who was the main organizer of the event until her health began to fail. Koester was quoted as saying the day “was a prayerful day that is dedicated to end abortion and ask God’s forgiveness.”  

 Koester passed away on Feb. 9, 2017, at age 91. In addition to her husband, Jack, who was active in helping with the Day of Prayer, there were many other faithful assistants to Koester in the early years, most who have since passed away.

“Loretta still played a major role in the 2016 Day of Prayer, although her health was failing,” said Esker. “She didn’t want to give it up totally until she couldn’t physically do it anymore.” A few years after her passing, Koester’s grandson, Father Dominic Vahling, as a newly-ordained priest, celebrated the closing Mass for the Day of Prayer. It was a moving day for those who knew and admired Koester. 

Koester lived long enough to see Effingham Planned Parenthood permanently close their doors in the late summer of 2016. Of course,  in June 2022 the United States Supreme Court issued its decision of Dobbs v. Jackson — overturning the decision of Roe v.. Wade, which had declared abortion to be a constitutional right — restoring the ability of the states to ban abortions. Illinois, of course, still allows abortions. 

Esker believes those who pray at the Annual Day of Prayer for Life have not given up. “I think ‘faithful in prayer for the protection of life’ is what we do,” said Esker, adding that they are praying for a return to the overall culture of life. “I know we may not always see the successes, especially in our state of Illinois, but as Mother Teresa said, ‘God does not require that we be successful only that we be faithful’ and Hebrews 11:1 says, ‘Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.’” 

Esker said that the pro-life committee in Teutopolis is thankful for the generosity of the Franciscan pastors at St. Francis Church who have generously hosted the Day of Prayer for Life for the past 50 years. She adds that St. Francis Social Concerns Committee has also been instrumental in helping her with the details of the day. 

The Day of Prayer has spanned generations, says Liz Kremer, a board member of Effingham Area Right to Life who also helps with event. “My mom and dad were involved from the get-go. I was still in high school when Roe v. Wade happened,” she said. “Through the years, being pro-life has been engrained in our family. My two sisters, me, their kids, and grandkids, three generations are still in this fight.” 

About the Day of Prayer, another Effingham Area Right to Life board member Judy Repking, concluded, “We are the faithful storming the heavens with our prayers, pleading for an end to abortion and for the protection of life.”