Gabriel Project offers help to women in crisis pregnancies
by Joe Bollig
OVERLAND PARK — “Lord, help! Send an angel!” has long been the prayer of people in trouble.
For women in crisis pregnancies, the angels have arrived, thanks to the Gabriel Project.
The Gabriel Project is a parishbased pro-life ministry that uses volunteers — known informally as “angels” — to do one-on-one mentoring with pregnant women in crisis. The ministry began in Austin, Texas, and is very popular there, expanding to more than 40 different parishes in the Diocese of Austin. It has also spread to several locations beyond Texas.
Holy Cross Parish in Overland Park is the site of the first Gabriel Project ministry here in the archdiocese, and the site of the first training session held on Oct. 24. Ten women — the first angels — attended this session.
“It was a good, strong group of people,” said Lea Connor, a member of Holy Cross Parish, who attended the training. “That’s what I’m really excited about. The nature of this is so positive and help-oriented. I think there are at least that many more people in the parish who are interested in helping who could not be at the parish that day.”
Connor said it would still be a couple of months before the Gabriel Project is up and running here.
In the past, help for women has been offered at the various pregnancy centers, said Ron Kelsey, archdiocesan pro-life consultant. These centers will continue to provide services and, in fact, offer critical support to the Gabriel Project. But the new ministry will afford pregnant women more comprehensive help and greater accessibility.
“This will work in the urban or rural areas,” said Kelsey. “Maybe [Project Gabriel] is even more relevant in rural areas where there are no crisis pregnancy centers.”
It also brings the vital element of spirituality into the equation.
“This is very spiritually grounded in our Catholic faith,” said Kelsey. “We bring our Catholic spirituality into ministering to these women.”
Participants in the first Gabriel Project training day learned about the ministry’s goals and mission, including how to implement the program in their parish and how it works. They also learned how to work with abortion-minded women and how to keep spiritually fit.
Since it is parish-based, the program announces itself through bulletin notices and signs (some bilingual) that read: Pregnant? Need Help? We, the members of this church, see the birth of each baby as the fresh expression of God’s unfailing love. For the love of God and each and every one of his children, we offer immediate and practical help to any woman faced with a crisis pregnancy.
There is a telephone number on the sign that the woman can call, or the number will be provided in a parish bulletin.
“A Gabriel angel will answer the phone, talk to the woman and get an understanding of her needs,” said Kelsey. “And then the Gabriel angels will put together a plan on how to help the woman through her pregnancy.”
The help will be material as well as spiritual. The parish will provide some of the resources, but others — housing, food, and clothing — will come from community resources like the Wyandotte Crisis Pregnancy Center.
The angels will also offer lay counseling and mentoring.
“Each [woman’s] situation will be unique,” said Kelsey. “With the unique needs of each individual, the Gabriel angels will be flexible and walk with her through her pregnancy and find out whatever kinds of needs she may have.”
For more information about establishing a Gabriel Project in your parish, call Kelsey at (913) 647-0350, or send an e-mail to: prolife@archkck. org.