Local members of the community lined up Sunday afternoon outside Panola College to pray for the end of abortion.

Panola County Coordinator Carol Harris called the event a prayer vigil and a witness to the community.

“What we do is we come out once a year and we stand for an hour and we quietly pray for God to end abortion,” Harris said. “We hold the signs to raise community awareness and to try to prompt the citizens that are driving by to think about abortion, and some of our signs say ‘Lord forgive our nation,’ ‘Jesus forgives and heals,’ and some of them are about the damage of abortion, that abortion kills children, hurts women — but the signs are for the purpose of letting people know why we’re standing here praying, and to prompt them to think about it and perhaps to pray.

“I particularly like the one that says ‘Jesus forgives and heals’ because there are women in our community and men who have been a part of abortion decisions who are hurting and are carrying a load of guilt and grief, and it’s good for them to think and know that Jesus will forgive every sin that we bring to him and say ‘Lord I repent, I’m sorry, please forgive me,’ then he stands ready to forgive and heal, and that’s what we want to see, we want to see restoration for people who are suffering from the effects of abortion, because there are a lot of people in our community who have never spoken about it.”

Harris said this is the 32nd year of Life Chain and that it takes place in over 1,500 cities across the United States and Canada.

Father Steven Paradis, pastor of Saint Williams Church, stood with a sign for the hour-long prayer vigil. Paradis said that every time an abortion is committed, a human heart stops and the life of the woman choosing abortion is forever changed.

“Every time a human life is lost, the body of Christ suffers, and it’s necessary for us all to do penance, to do what we can to change the suffering in our country,” he said. “I would wish that this would end, but wishing is not a very good strategy. So we take what we can, we state we can, we make the statement that we can and stand firmly in favor of life, in favor of human life. Perhaps we can reach somebody today who might be considering an abortion, that would consider life instead. To not stand here today would be a dereliction of our own duties to stand in favor and in honesty of life.”

Diana Bonds, who also advocates for suicide prevention with SALT (Save A Life Today), said that all life is important, from the beginning all the way to the end.

“We do stop abortion, we do prevent suicide and we try to take care of the ones in the middle,” Bonds said. “We didn’t choose life, God chose it for us, and we don’t get to take it away.”