Holy Cross makes effort to help crisis pregnancies
by Kara Hansen
OVERLAND PARK — A lot of people like to talk about helping women in crisis pregnancies.
Members of Holy Cross Parish in Overland Park are just doing it.
“The Gabriel Project gives people the ability to make a difference in someone’s life,” explained Leah Conner, a Holy Cross parishioner. “People really like this because it’s action-driven. It’s a chance to put our beliefs into action.”
The Gabriel Project is a national, parish-based ministry that exists to support women in crisis pregnancies. At Holy Cross, the sign posted on the parish grounds is simple: “Pregnant? Need Help?” It then includes the name of the ministry and contact information.
The sign is located on 95th Street in Overland Park, by Holy Cross School. The area is well-traveled, and the sign is easily visible to anyone passing by the property.
“This is an incredible opportunity for us to show the heart of our parish and to see the gift of each child,” said Fa- ther Bob Conroy, MC. “This is a chance for our church to open our arms to em- brace women who are pregnant, especially under difficult or even painful circumstances.”
The Gabriel Project includes a hot line staffed by a volunteer 24 hours a day. Volunteers take down basic intake information over the phone, offer support, and ultimately connect the caller with the Gabriel Project if she desires.
Once a woman calls the hot line and gets involved with the ministry, she is assigned one of the volunteers, a “Gabriel angel.” The volunteer offers friendship and support, at first focusing on assuring the pregnant woman that she is not alone.
“Each woman’s needs are different, but the volunteer’s job is to walk with her,” said Conner. “How long that relationship lasts is up to the mother-to-be.”
Father Bob said the Gabriel Project offers something social service organizations, however well-meaning and helpful, cannot touch.
“The beautiful thing about the Gabriel Project is that it’s not help from someone in an office,” said Father Bob. “It’s a relational, mother-to-mother ministry with a person who understands and has lived that experience. They can walk with the mom-to-be in a relational ministry.”
Ron Kelsey, archdiocesan consultant for the pro-life office, said Project Gabriel will work hand in hand with area crisis pregnancy centers.
“The Gabriel Project doesn’t offer pregnancy tests or sonograms like a crisis pregnancy center would,” he said. “Volunteers with the Gabriel Project can collaborate and refer clients to pregnancy centers as needed.”
The Gabriel Project exists primarily to offer spiritual and emotional support to a pregnant woman, though material support is part of the ministry as well. Volunteers can also refer a woman to other agencies that can help with baby items an expectant mother might need, or request items through potential parish donors.
“This outreach to women facing unplanned pregnancies is a wonderful way for a parish to serve as a public witness to the community,” said Kelsey.
The Gabriel Project is still new to Holy Cross, but Conner said the hot line has received several phone calls from women in need. Fifteen trained volunteers are ready to assist women directly, and there is a large team of parishioners dedicated to praying for the ministry’s success.
“We are grateful we have the chance to help women under these circumstances,” said Father Bob. “It’s a blessing and honor to extend the gift of welcome to women in need.”
The Gabriel Project’s hot line phone number at Holy Cross is (913) 602- 0306. For more information on the Gabriel Project or how to bring it to your parish, visit the Web site at: www. gabrielproject.com/help.htm or con- tact the archdiocesan pro-life office at (913) 647-0350.