by Marc and Julie Anderson
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Tina Jenkins of Holy Family Parish in Eudora and Traci Streit of St. Patrick Parish here are no strangers to pro-life ministry.
According to Debra Niesen and Ann Marie Alvey, both of the archdiocesan respect life office, Jenkins and Streit are helping one of the archdiocese’s ministries soar to new heights.
Both Jenkins and Streit were honored with the first Archbishop Joseph Naumann Walking with Moms in Need award at the conclusion of the Respect Life Sunday Mass celebrated by the archbishop and concelebrated by Father Mark Mertes at St. Patrick Church on Oct. 4.
The Mass served as the archdiocese’s kickoff for Respect Life Month, a time for Catholics to focus on God’s gift of human life. This year’s theme is: “Live the Gospel of Life,” inspired by the 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”).
During the Mass, the archbishop recognized those involved in pro-life ministry and gave them a special blessing. Additionally, the Mass served as a commissioning of the 25 angel volunteers involved in the Gabriel Project, which supports women experiencing unplanned pregnancies by offering “unconditional nonjudgmental friendship along with material and emotional support.”
A volunteer since 2013, Streit has helped train the dozen angel volunteers who have joined the ministry within the past year.
While Streit has trained the angel volunteers, Jenkins has answered the Gabriel Project’s confidential hotline for years. She takes the responsibility so seriously that, when she was involved in a major accident more than a year ago, the first thing Jenkins asked Alvey when the two women talked after the accident was whether she had remembered to transfer the hotline to Alvey’s cellphone. Indeed, she had.
In his homily, the archbishop said while the goal of Walking with Moms and the Gabriel Project is not to turn parishes into pregnancy centers, every parish within the United States can support pregnancy centers and find and share other resources with moms in need.
“Our goal is to surround mothers with love-supported resources to choose life for their child,” said the archbishop. “Our goal is not to protect only the life of the child, but to empower mothers, toddlers and children to thrive for a lifetime. Babies we cannot protect by law, we can save with love.”
Elsewhere, he said, it’s important to note St. John Paul II identified abortion as “a crime against human life that demands our special attention at this present moment.”
“Our laws do not permit the killing of an innocent person in any other circumstance,” said the archbishop. “The fact that abortion is legal misleads the young, frightened pregnant mother to rationalize abortion for it cannot really be killing because our laws would never permit it.”
Elsewhere in his homily, Archbishop Naumann addressed anyone suffering the effects of an abortion.
“It is probable that in any gathering of this size at any one of our parishes where I preach there are individuals in the congregations who have been scarred by abortion,” he said. “And my purpose in speaking about this issue is not to revile or increase the pain of those who are suffering the devastating aftereffects of abortion. However, the church must speak about this issue.”
“For those of you who have known firsthand the emotional and spiritual wounds of abortion and [been] healed by God’s mercy and grace,” he continued, “you know how important it is for others to find this healing and peace that only God can provide.”
He added that he hoped that at least one person would, as a direct result of participating in or watching the Mass, “have the courage to face the truth of abortion in their life and to start to approach the Lord for forgiveness and healing.”