For three straight years October in Chester meant a display of 144 small crosses standing on the lawn of St. Lawrence the Martyr Church in Main Street.
Those small crosses symbolized the amount of abortions performed in the United States every hour, and stood before a banner that read the information.
While the message remains the same, in 2013, however, the display has changed.
The display is part of the annual Respect for Life awareness campaign that runs through October. This year, a single banner stands on the lawn that reads “Chose Life” with contact information for the National Life Center.
The change came with a new lead pastor at the church, according to Bob Holl, the Respect for Life Ministries director at St. Lawrence.
“We’ve undergone new management since last year and are taking a softer approach,” Holl said. “Father (Nick Bozza) knew how contentious it was in the past and we decided after a few conversations to temper the display a little.”
In 2011 the display’s banner was removed twice and anonymous parishioners voiced their disapproval to the church when the crosses were erected, Holl said.
While Holl concedes he liked the strength of the previous message and what it stood for, he understands the change in approach.
“It’s more approachable for parishioners,” Holl said.
The parishioner of more than 35 years hasn’t changed his stance on the issue, though, and stands by what he told Patch in 2012.
“If you’re a parishioner or a Catholic and are unhappy with the display, you need to reevaluate. This is what the Catholic Church teaches and is our belief,” Holl said last year.
The anti-abortion message is still being pushed through the church's bulletins, Holl said.
The zenith of the church’s month-long message comes Tuesday night with the annual Respect for Life vigil, which will be held at the church at 7 p.m. Attendees will light candles for the unborn, Holl said, and the church is expecting a total of 150 to 170 participants – more than 100 of which will be children.
The display’s appearance is still subject to change, Holl said, and going back to the cross setup is “definitely a possibility” to be brought back in future years.