Life matters

Help make your parish a refuge for moms in need

Debra Niesen is the archdiocesan consultant for the pro-life office.

by Debra Niesen

Imagine a day when a woman who is expecting a child under challenging circumstances understands the value of her own life and that of her preborn child and knows that she can walk through the doors of any Catholic Church and have an army of people ready to help her.

Of course, many of us believe that this scenario is likely true today in the vast majority of our churches. But is it? Does she know and believe it?

In a sense, answering these questions is what the “Walking With Moms in Need: A Year of Service” effort is all about.

On March 25, in honor of the 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s papal encyclical “The Gospel of Life,” we will embark on a year of assessing and improving our outreach to expecting and parenting women in need.

The fact is, pregnant women who are facing a wide array of immense challenges are in our communities and parishes. Because they feel alone, desperate and often pressured, they turn to abortion clinics without ever knowing all who want to help them choose life.

While parishes are not being asked to become pregnancy centers, they should first and foremost be the voice and hands of Jesus saying, “You can do this and we are here to help.” Everyone in a parish should know where to refer a woman for help.

We are fortunate to have an archbishop who makes pregnancy resources a priority in the diocese. Many of our parishes have knowledgeable pro-life coordinators, committees and Knights who are ready to assist. And our Gabriel Project Ministry is building a team of “Angel” volunteers who are trained to accompany women during their pregnancy and connect them to the resources they need.

In addition, Catholic Charities offers pregnancy counseling and adoption services that help women choose life and bless other families.

We also have many community organizations doing great work for expecting and parenting women. There are wonderful pregnancy centers in Emporia, Overland Park, Shawnee, Leavenworth, Topeka, Ottawa, Lawrence, Kansas City and Olathe.

Not only do these centers provide free counseling, pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and maternity/baby items and supplies, but many offer parenting classes, ongoing support groups and even Bible studies.

Alexandra’s House in Kansas City, Missouri, provides help and hope for women and families facing an adverse fetal diagnosis, St. Joseph Adoption Ministry is a licensed adoption agency, and Nativity House offers residential shelter for young unwed mothers.

Join or start a pro-life committee in your parish to help improve our outreach and communication to women in need through the Walking With Moms initiative.

Help our parishes be, as Pope Francis says, “islands of mercy in a sea of indifference.”

For more information, visit the website at: life-walkingwithmoms.

About the author

Debra Niesen

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