Kim Griffin

Pro-lifers are often accused of being “pro-birth” only. The charge is once a mother does choose life she is left to struggle with poverty, single motherhood and an unforgiving world alone. The support of the church isn’t there for her or her baby.

However, a new initiative started by the U.S. Catholic bishops called “Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service” challenges this cynical argument.

The inspiration behind the year of service came from St. John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”) in which he condemns abortion and euthanasia, the major attacks on human life at its beginning and end.

The great saint of our time explained in the prophetic document that we are called to “respect, defend and promote the dignity of every human person, at every moment and in every condition of that person’s life.”

The goal of “Walking with Moms in Need” is to provide real tangible support to women during and after pregnancy. Therefore it is meant to be a pastoral response rather than a political one.

Through the Year of Service, parishes are asked to complete a simple inventory of the resources currently available in their local area, assess the results and identify gaps, and plan and implement a parish response based on their findings.

It is believed that women are helped most effectively on the local level. Here in Philadelphia a core team is being assembled at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul to walk with women in need.

Last week representatives from different groups including the Legion of Mary, Knights of Columbus, Faith and Justice, Hispanic ministry, Sidewalk Servants and Christian adult formation gathered with Father Dennis Gill, cathedral parish rector, and Father Matthew Biedrzycki, parochial vicar, to discuss their response to this opportunity to better serve expectant women of Philadelphia during this year of service and beyond.

Father Gill pointed out that as Catholics we are meant to be, as St. James said, “doers of the word.” We can’t simply talk the talk. Our faith must propel us into action. We must also walk the walk.

And every Christian is called to act on behalf of building a culture of life, not just those directly involved in ministry work.

Here are some suggestions for you to get involved:

* Contact your local pregnancy resource center or diocesan/parish pregnancy support ministry. Ask about ways you can help, such as volunteering or donating baby items.

* Offer some other sacrifice or prayer that you feel called to do for this month’s intention. Pray the prayer for Pregnant Mothers below weekly or daily for the expectant mothers in Philadelphia:

O Blessed Mother, you received the good news of the incarnation of Christ, your Son,
with faith and trust. Grant your protection to all pregnant mothers facing difficulties.

Guide us as we strive to make our parish communities places of welcome and assistance for mothers in need. Help us become instruments of God’s love and compassion.

The new program has its own website, WalkingWithMoms.com, with resources, outreach tools and models to assist parishes in the effort. Resources will continue to be added to the site by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.

The church should be the place where women go first when in need. And the church is ready to walk with those women throughout their lives and their baby’s lives.

Father Biedrzycki had this message for any woman who is pregnant and scared:

“As we speak, God is loving three people into being — me, you and the child you are carrying. God is laboring right now that you might know life and help your child to know that life too. I do not know what the future holds for either of us and yet I know it leads beyond this moment. Together let’s pray and look to him, as he looks on us with love. You’re not alone.”