People who have long advocated for an end to legal abortion are now asking, “What’s next?” after Roe v. Wade was overturned earlier this summer, according to the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Family and Life Ministries Office.
“Many people are saying that they’ve devoted their lives to this advocacy and all of a sudden the victory is (here),” said Deacon Stephen Bowling, director of the office. “Now what do we do?”
Although the legal battle is ongoing at the state level, the office’s pro-life event coordinator Stuart Hamilton said the answer lies in serving mothers and children in need.
It “comes down to doing the hard work and expanding these programs so that the need is so pervasively met that someone wouldn’t dream of going backward on that and having it legal at the state level,” he said. “I think it’s paramount that that happens.”
The Archdiocese of Louisville is home to a wide variety of such programs. The Golden Arrow Center, Little Way Pregnancy Resource Center, Catholic Charities, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the St. Bernadette Diaper Bank and parish Respect Life committees offer a variety of resources for women facing crisis pregnancies and families struggling to raise children.
The Golden Arrow Center on South Shelby Street, an outreach ministry of St. Martin of Tours Church, provides pregnancy, newborn and childhood resources to mothers and families.
“If you have a baby at any of the hospitals around here and say you need resources, our name is at the top of the list they give mothers,” said Emily Nolan.
Nolan, the center’s volunteer director, has assisted the agency for the past 16 years.
She said other agencies, such as Dare to Care and the Louisville Metro Police Department’s special victims unit, refer clients to the Golden Arrow Center if they have needs related to pregnancy or children.
“We have clothing, diapers, formula, car seats, consumables” such as feminine hygiene products and food, Nolan said.
On July 31, the center unveiled its new building just down the street from its old location, following 10 a.m. Mass at St. Martin of Tours. Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre attended and dedicated the building.
Deborah Carlisle, a member of St. Francis Xavier Church in Mount Washington, Ky., and one of two paid part-time employees at the center, said she doesn’t think the overturning of Roe v. Wade will impact daily operations.
“We’ll continue to do what we’ve always done,” she said. “We’ll continue to serve more clients.”
The center serves 200 households and 400 children per month. In July, volunteers handed out 12 layettes — starter kits for newborns.
“It is important to keep walking with these families,” Nolan said. “If you’re pro-life, you have to continue to be pro-life after the baby is born. The baby has needs, the mom has needs. We need to help those families meet those needs.”
The Archdiocese of Louisville’s latest effort to help families in need aims to engage all Catholics. Called Walking With Moms in Need, the initiative is jointly sponsored by Catholic Charities and the Family and Life Ministries Office. The initiative trains parishioners how to help those in a crisis situation and provide accompaniment to mothers who might need an extra set of hands to get through the day.
The program will create a network of “villages” for those in need, Cydnei Dean explained after a recent information session about the initiative. People in need can call on the villages either directly or through referral by Catholic Charities, she said.
Dean, program coordinator for Family Support Services at Catholic Charities, said her hope is that Walking With Moms in Need will “create massive villages all across the city that surround people who are in need in various ways and can be that holistic support and meet them on all sides.”
“They say it takes a village to raise a child but our villages are getting smaller,” she said. The program is one way to help the villages grow.
Deacon Bowling said the 110 parishes that make up the Archdiocese of Louisville have plenty of people who want to help and be part of the solution.
“You could ask somebody to write a check and it helps for a little bit, it’s fine, it’s necessary,” he said. “But if you really want to get someone to help out, put a hammer in their hand and say, ‘Now we have a need.’ We’re asking them to build something.”
Deacon Bowling said initiatives such as Walking With Moms in Need show that the church is “putting our money where our mouth is.”
“We’ve been accused of being liars by many who say, ‘No, you’re not (pro-woman and pro-family), you’re pro-birth only.’ Programs like this show clearly that not only is that not the case, it never was the case,” he said.
Hamilton, the pro-life event coordinator, said that if you add up all of the church’s various ministries you have the opportunity to serve an entire life.
“If you really looked at all of (the programs) you could see that we could take care of a person from conception to natural death,” he said during an interview after a Walking With Moms in Need information session at the end of July. “But the deal is, we now need to utilize all of the parishes to help with that mission.”
He’s been “tremendously encouraged by the parishioners willing to step up,” Hamilton said.
More than 100 people from 37 parishes have attended three information sessions to learn how to walk with moms in need.
“It shows in a certain sense we’re not just willing to change laws, we are willing to provide for women, provide for families, provide holistically for the families,” Hamilton said.