Mission Statement

To pray, fast and peacefully witness for an end to intentional destruction of all innocent human lives, especially those most in need.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Sad news...

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord! --Job 1:21

Dear Friends,

Two weeks ago, we were delighted to share with you the news that we were expecting our second child--a baby who we have wanted and have prayed for for two years. Today, I am saddened to share with you the news that our beloved child--whom we have given the name Gianna Maria Karlen--has passed into eternal life as the result of a miscarriage.

On Monday, May 3 at 6:00 p.m., we will bury this child at St. Mary's Church in Pine Bluff. We invite you to join us for a short graveside service. You can gather in the church shortly before 6:00, and we will proceed to the cemetery. After the burial, we will say the Rosary. While we don't have money to feed you all, we do invite you to join us for an informal meal at the Middleton Culvers. You can find directions below.

Friends, we know that many couples wait to announce they are pregnant until the first trimester passes so they can get through the months that are most dangerous for the baby. We understand and respect this decision. But even though we knew we faced an increased risk of miscarriage, we know life begins at conception and decided to share the news of our pregnancy with you right away.

Many of you reading this email have suffered miscarriages. And because our society dehumanizes life in the womb, it can be difficult to celebrate the life and mourn the death of a pre-born child. In very publicly grieving the loss of our child, we want to witness to the fact that even though our child passed away very early in her development, she was indeed a unique and individual human being created by the Hand of God in the image and likeness of God. If you have lost a child to either miscarriage or abortion, we hope that perhaps this letter might do just a little bit to help you feel able to fully mourn your son or daughter.

There were sixteen days from the time we learned that of Gianna's existence to yesterday when we learned of her passing, and each was a blessing that brought us great joy we will never forget. A great portion of that great joy came from the kindness of many of you. We offer our deep thanksgiving to all of you who sent us kind words--so many of you did that we did not have enough time to thank you all. Know that it was not for lack of appreciation, and please keep us in prayer going forward.

Many friends have generously offered to help us in any way they can. And if you'd like to make that same offer, here is the one thing you can do that would bring us the greatest comfort: Find a friend and take an hour to go pray at Planned Parenthood--particularly during business hours if you can. Every day, babies just like ours die, but without anyone to love and mourn them. Your prayer and witness at an abortion facility may very well be the only act of love these children receive in their short lives. And if you'd like to send us an email to let us know you have dedicated time in prayer in honor of our child, it would bring us great consolation to know that perhaps her short life served to save the life of another pre-born baby.

Directions to St. Mary's Church in Pine Bluff
Directions to Culvers in Middleton

In Christ,
Steve and Laura

PS: Remember that tomorrow (Saturday) morning, David Stiennon will be providing the First Saturday presentation at Holy Redeemer at 9 a.m. (following the 8 a.m. Mass).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Baby Shower date and location confirmed! Please RSVP.

We are overjoyed to invite all of you and your families to the baby shower for Sarah and Melord upon the recent birth (April 2, 2010) of their son Zion, who was spared from abortion by God's grace and the intercession of prayer warriors.

Please mark your calendars and plan to attend this joyful occasion:

What: Baby Shower for Sarah, Melord and Baby Zion
When: Sunday, May 23, 2010 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Where: St. Maria Goretti Parish Center, 5313 Flad Avenue Madison, WI 53711

Cake and beverages will be served. If you would like to, we also invite you to bring a snack or dessert to share.

Please RSVP by Sunday, May 16, 2010 so that we can prepare adequately. Please RSVP by contacting Steve Karlen at 608-445-2063 or steve@vigilforlife.org.

The family is registered at Target for baby items. Please consider making a sacrifice for this family by purchasing a gift or contributing toward a larger gift. If you would rather make a donation or have it on your heart to contribute toward a larger item, you can send a check to Vigil for Life (P.O. Box 45104, Madison, WI 53711 and write "Baby Shower in the memo line. Click here to visit the baby registry.

First Saturday Breakfast and Presentation

May 1st, we will hold our monthly First Saturday event and are happy to welcome David Stiennon, who will be promoting the Madison Fertility Awareness Project with his presentation, "Educating for Life: Preventing Abortions by Witnessing for NFP." David will address how pro-life, pro-family witness at the Farmer's Market and other events is necessary to provide a viable alternative to Planned Parenthood. This presentation will follow 8:00 a.m. Mass at Holy Redeemer. David will begin speaking at 9:00 a.m. We will also continue the First Saturday Fatima devotions per usual. Join us!

Prayers Partners Needed at Weekly Vigils

We need prayer partners at our weekly vigils so that at least two people are present. We would appreciate very much your commitment to pray each week or frequently. Please call Laura Karlen at 608-445-2064 to volunteer or ask questions. The schedule is as follows:

  • Madison Surgery Center: Tuesdays at 8:30 a.m. with Steve Karlen
  • Planned Parenthood: Thursdays at 4:00 p.m. with Laura Karlen
We also need a prayer partner for a prayer warrior at Planned Parenthood Fridays at 7:00 a.m. We pray that God will provide us with prayer partners--thank you in advance!

God bless all of you in your endeavors. Let our work give glory to God!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Vigil for Life to be featured in nationwide 40 Days for Life teleconference

Vigil for Life to be featured in nationwide 40 Days for Life teleconference

On Tuesday, April 20, the national 40 Days for Life team will hold a teleconference and web simulcast to share breaking news regarding the future of 40 Days for Life.

Due to your excellent work on the streets, Vigil for Life Coordinator Steve Karlen will join the telecast to discuss how our success in Madison can serve as a model for other communities.

Each year hundreds of cities and tens of thousands of people join 40 Days for Life campaigns around the nation. That Madison will be one of three cities featured in tomorrow night's teleconference is a great testament to your faithful witness at the Madison Surgery Center and Planned Parenthood. Keep up the great work. And if you'd like to tune in, you can join the simulcast at 8 p.m. on Tuesday night!

Baby shower for saved baby scheduled

You might remember that a baby saved by sidewalk counselors at Madison's Planned Parenthood was born on Good Friday. Vigil for Life has tentatively scheduled a baby shower for Baby Zion and his mother Sarah for Sunday, May 23 at 1:30 p.m. We are still firming up the location and will announce it when it's ready. Please plan to attend.

You can find Sarah's registry here. If you choose to, you can also write a check to "Vigil for Life" and put "Baby Shower" in the memo line. Donations will be pooled and put toward larger items on the registry. You can mail your donation to

Vigil for Life
P.O. Box 45104
Madison, WI 53711

Weekly vigils scheduled; prayer partners needed

We've begun hosting weekly vigils at Planned Parenthood and the Madison Surgery Center.

  • Join Steve at the MSC on Tuesday mornings at 8:30 a.m.
  • Join Laura at Planned Parenthood Thursday afternoons at 4:00 p.m.

We'd greatly appreciate prayer partners during these hours. If you'd like to volunteer to join us on a weekly or monthly basis, please call 608-445-2063.

Courtesy Announcements

  • Catholics: Richard Blaney heads up the perpetual adoration program at Holy Redeemer Church, which is always in need of scheduled adorers and substitutes. Can you help him out? He's been a steadfast supporter of Vigil for Life and has directed his adorers to help with our efforts often. If you're willing to answer the call, contact him at 608-271-6539.
  • Wisconsin Right to Life will host Abby Johnson on May 12 at 7 p.m. Abby was the former director of Planned Parenthood in College Station, Texas before converting to the pro-life movement. Click here for additional information.

Friday, April 9, 2010

He is Risen

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad! --Psalm 118: 24

On behalf of Vigil for Life, please accept our wishes for a wonderful and blessed Easter season for you and your families. Jesus Christ who had died is risen. Allelujah!

All human cruelty and callous indifference, all our frustration and despair, every destroyed life and broken heart is answered by this most holy season. And so, as we go forth this year continuing our labors to pray, fast and witness for an end to abortion, let us never forget that the beginning and the end of our work is the resurrection of the Lord.

Please read on for highlights from this spring's 40 Days for Life campaign in Madison.

40 Days for Life Madison 2010: Year in Review

After only three months since the end of the fall campaign, Vigil for Life embarked on an ambitious effort: holding another 40 day vigil--this time at the Madison Surgery Center. With the fall campaign still fresh in mind, with harsher weather, and with a very public location that would result in much more open hostility, we had our doubts as to whether the vigil could be pulled off. But we placed those doubts in the Hands of the Lord and trusted that if He wanted this vigil to happen He would find a way to fill the 960 hour long prayer shifts. And did He ever!

We were delighted, humbled and amazed by the way you all turned out to this vigil. Here is an overview of some of the highlights and success stories:

Making a Difference

  • Prayer Warrior Tom reported that a man who came to work at the MSC in a service van came over to the sidewalk to ask about the late-term abortion plans. When Tom filled him in, he replied, "Well, I think I will call my boss and tell him that I will not do service here anymore."
  • MSC staff routinely thanked participants for being out on the streets.
  • The Vigil provided a street presence while Pro-Life Wisconsin discovered and publicized numerous accounts of corruption and illegal activity involved in the University of Wisconsin's plans to perform late-term abortions and its relationship with Planned Parenthood.
  • Still no abortions at the MSC--Nearly 15 months after the targetted start date! This results in an estimated 150 saved babies since January of 2009!

Incredible Efforts

  • Many people got involved for the first time--many coming from more than an hour away to pray!
  • Close to 50 people gathered for the closing vigil, led by Pastor Jeremiah Johnson who led praise and worship music and offered a powerful reflection.
  • The national 40 Days for Life team featured Madison--called you "defenders of true freedom" in its widely distributed campaign email and blog.
  • This vigil drew participants from more Christian faiths and more churches than the previous one.
  • On March 21, nearly 200 of you packed the sidewalks to pray the Stations of the Cross.
  • Scores of people packed a special Mass praying to keep abortion out of health care reform and then filled a 40 hour adoration vigil that ran concurrent with 40 Days for Life

Putting the Abortion Industry on the Defensive

  • A student newspaper on campus published a pro-abortion piece bashing vigil participants while admitting abortion kills a person.
  • One day a counter-protester showed up--drawing further attention to the treachery of UW Health and Meriter Hospital.
  • The campaign (along with a concurrent vigil in Wausau) so riled the abortion industry that several pro-abortion organizations attempted to launched a mass fundraising campaign in response to our presence on the street. The entire statewide effort drew only a paltry 63 donations!

Well done!

Keeping It Up

  • Every Tuesday at the MSC at 8:30 a.m. We will continue our witness at the MSC with a weekly vigil at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesdays. A prayer partner is needed to keep 2 people out there at a time. Please contact Steve Karlen at 608-445-2063 if you can plan on praying on Tuesdays.
  • Every Thursday at Planned Parenthood at 4:00 p.m. We will stand at the foot of the Cross at Planned Parenthood Thursdays at 4:00 p.m., which is a busy time. A prayer partner is needed to keep 2 people out there at a time. Please contact Laura Karlen at 608-445-2064 if you can plan on praying on Thursdays.
  • Is there a time that you would like to pray at either location? Grab a prayer partner and head out two-by-two, as our Lord sent out His disciples. Let us know what you have in mind so we can multiply our vigils!

Lastly, we'd like to thank a prayer warrior who will be leaving the Madison area for her incredible efforts this past year. Jenny Hakes has been praying outside the Madison Surgery Center each Saturday morning for most of the past year. She's been a regular participant in 40 Days for Life and was featured in the Wisconsin State Journal for her efforts this winter. Jenny will be relocating to Texas.

Thank you Jenny Your efforts have gone above and beyond what we could have asked. You leave large shoes to fill and will be greatly missed.

Have a Blessed Easter!

Friday, April 2, 2010

BREAKING: Baby spared at Madison's Planned Parenthood born safely!‏

Late last summer, we received an urgent text message from Jen of the Servants of Our Lady of Guadalupe asking us to pray for Sarah and Melord--a couple she met at Madison's Planned Parenthood. Facing financial difficulties, they had come with the intention of aborting their child. Jen, along with Mark from Pro-Life Wisconsin's Dane County affiliate, counseled the couple and offered to help in whatever way they could.

Jen and Mark's kindness made the difference. At 12:05 this morning, Sarah gave birth to a seven pound baby boy named Zion! I just spoke with Melord who reported that both mom and baby are doing well.

But our work isn't done yet. Vigil for Life plans to throw a baby shower for Baby Zion and his parents later this spring. Stay tuned for the date, time, location and registry information, and please plan to help support this young family.

Congratulations to Jen and Mark, and big time thanks to all of you who pray and witness on the streets!