Kosta is fairly new to her role at the convent, but she was aware of the convent and its ministry well before she took the job. She has two children who have volunteered as sidewalk counselors outside the Planned Parenthood clinic across the street from the convent.
“It’s not a place that a lot of people wanna go, especially by themselves,” she said, adding that the clinic is located in a semi-industrial area on the edge of a neighborhood. “When the convent was established, I was thrilled because I had a young daughter in her early twenties standing outside of Planned Parenthood counseling with nowhere to go as a safe place.”
Before the convent, sidewalk counselors would frequently walk to a nearby restaurant if they needed a bathroom. Now, they can walk across the street for a bathroom, a chapel and— if they are lucky— the sisters’ chocolate chip cookies.
Many times the sisters will be reintroduced to pro-life advocates at other events in the archdiocese, “and they'll say, ‘I remember those chocolate chip cookies’,” Hall said. “So in a sense it's an icebreaker to get to know people and it encourages them to maybe want to come back again. If nothing else for a chocolate chip cookie and a Hail Mary.”
The convent and its pro-life ministry are catching the attention of other dioceses. Kosta said a couple from a neighboring archdiocese visited the convent recently and hoped to launch something similar in their own area.
Kosta has yet to interact herself with any employees of the abortion clinic across the street, but she said she’s certain they’re aware of the convent and its ministry.
“They have to be aware of what's going on,” Kosta said. “There are icons in the windows, the sisters have a bird's eye view of what's going on in the parking lot. They can contact us and say, ‘Hey, the abortionist is here today.’ Or, you know, ‘there doesn't seem to be a lot of activity going on right now, but this day is when I see activity.’ So we can try to bring more people to pray on those specific days.”
Kosta said there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of surgical abortions performed at the Planned Parenthood clinic since the convent opened.
Unfortunately Planned Parenthood opened a large facility just across the Mississippi River in Illinois. Kosta said the Planned Parenthood by the convent will often refer women to that abortion facility.
She said it is also difficult to track how many chemical abortions the clinic is facilitating.
“I think the one thing that we maybe don't have a complete handle on— and I may be wrong— but there are a lot of chemical abortions happening,” she said. “A lot of the abortion pill…That's kind of the newest trend because people are able to get that in the mail.”
(Story continues below)
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Some days, the sisters join pro-life advocates in praying from the sidewalk outside the Planned Parenthood. The sisters said passing cars will often honk in support, but they will also get negative comments.
“In one sense, there's a sense of ‘are we safe? Is it safe to be here? Will something happen?’,” Hall said. “So far, we've been very blessed.”
“I…feel this sense of God enveloping us and knowing we're here for good and for His honor and glory,” Hall continued. “I just feel if God wants this work to be accomplished that Ge will see it accomplished. Why fear when He tells you not to be afraid?”
A version of this article appeared on Catholic News Agency’s award-winning storytelling podcast, CNA Newsroom. You can listen to that episode here. Subscribe to CNA Newsroom today on your favorite podcast platform, and leave us a rating and a review.
Kate Olivera is executive producer of Catholic News Agency's podcasts: CNA Newsroom and CNA Editor's Desk. She has a BA in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has worked at Catholic News Agency since 2012; and was previously a staff writer at The Catholic Voice in the Archdiocese of Omaha.