These teaching editorials focus on issues that are highlighted during October’s Respect Life Month.
The Catholic Church teaches that human life is sacred from the moment of conception to natural death. This teaching compels us to oppose abortion. It also calls us to support moms (and dads) in need as they choose life for their unborn children. The new program, “Walking with Moms in Need,” is one way for Catholics to live out their pro-life witness.
At the pro-life vigil Mass in January of 2020, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chair of the USCCB Pro-Life Committee, introduced “Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service,” which is a parish-based initiative to assist pregnant mothers in need. The USCCB program officially began on March 25, 2020, the feast of the Annunciation and the 25th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”).
As the name “Walking with Moms in Need” suggests, the U.S. bishops are inviting parishioners to expand outreach to mothers in an unplanned pregnancy. As Archbishop Naumann stated, “While not trying to turn Catholic parishes into pregnancy centers, we can support local pregnancy centers where they exist, and we can also find and share other resources with pregnant and parenting women.”
Every diocese may implement “Walking with Moms in Need” in different ways. In the Archdiocese of Louisville, we already have a similar grass-roots program in place, aptly named “Moms Helping Moms.” In addition, the revised Opportunities for Life archdiocesan program, providing financial assistance to pregnant women, certainly complements well the objectives of “Walking with Moms in Need.”
Let me share a story that illustrates how “Walking with Moms in Need” is already working. In March, during the last “40 Days for Life” (40 days of prayer, fasting, and public witness to end abortion), volunteers were praying in front of the local abortion center. A husband of a woman in the facility came out to get some fresh air. A conversation began.
This young husband explained that he and his wife already had a child, and they were in a desperate financial situation. Mary, one of the volunteers, explained that the Archdiocese of Louisville had a fund to help women in an unplanned pregnancy. She continued to dialogue with the husband and encouraged him and his wife to seek help.
At that point, I arrived for my shift and continued the conversation. A few minutes later, the young man’s wife came out unexpectedly. We did not say anything, but Mary hugged the husband and told him that we would pray for them. We assumed that his wife had completed the abortion procedure since she had been in the facility for several hours.
The following day, Carol Masters, who heads up the Louisville 40 Days for Life campaign, received a surprising call from the husband. He remembered the offer of help, found the 40 Days for Life website and exuberantly shared that they had chosen life, but now the reality of eviction from their home was looming.
“Moms Helping Moms” stepped in to help when Carol, who also volunteers with this program, visited the wife at her home. She talked with the young mother for hours. Throughout the course of their conversation, Carol came to understand the challenges the family was facing.
Carol called me, and as part of the Opportunities for Life team, we made arrangements to pay for a month’s rent and utilities so that the family could avoid eviction and get back on their feet. As we got the word out to parishes, more help arrived. A group of St. Margaret Mary mothers collected baby items and gift cards. Several other parishes had similar collections. On return visits, Carol brought the mother more supplies.
In July, this young couple gave birth to a baby girl. Carol continues to stay in touch with them and certainly epitomizes what “Walking with Moms in Need” is all about.
The mother and father are ecstatic about their new baby and thankful for the support and resources they have received from Opportunities for Life and the generous parishioners of the Archdiocese of Louisville.
Recently, the mother shared this touching text: “I know I want time to slow down. I want her to stay my tiny baby for as long as possible!! I love her so much. She’s my whole heart!!! Definitely a blessing!!!”
As part of Respect Life Month, the Office of Family Ministry’s pro-life ministries department will hold an online webinar on Tuesday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. to discuss how parishioners can support “Walking with Moms in Need.” Archbishop Kurtz will give the opening talk. To register, contact Ed Harping (firstname.lastname@example.org) and a secure link will be sent to you.
Ed Harpring is the coordinator of Pro-Life Ministries for the Archdiocese of Louisville.