Walking with Moms in Need, a national Catholic initiative that aims to create a network of support for expectant mothers and young families, is primed for the next step in its launch sequence in the Archdiocese of Louisville.
During the summer, more than 100 parishioners and pastors from 37 parishes answered an archdiocesan-wide invitation to attend one of three information sessions about the initiative.
Now, eight of those parishes will take the next step, piloting the program beginning next week. An initial training session will be held Oct. 15 and will include three phases: program policies and procedures; the volunteer and recruitment process; and general dos and don’ts.
Cydnei Dean, program coordinator for Family Support Services at Catholic Charities of Louisville, said organizers aim to roll the program out “more gradually than opening the floodgates.”
“So we’re doing the first cohort, then we’ll do a second cohort and figure out how to navigate it and go from there,” she said.
Organizers will spend three to six months establishing the program in the eight parishes that comprise the first cohort.
That way, it will “develop a really strong foundation,” Dean said. “It gives a more concrete framework to the program and makes it a little more conceivable.”
The eight pilot parishes are: St. Louis Bertrand Church, St. Raphael Church, St. Francis of Assisi Church, the Cathedral of the Assumption, St. Patrick Church, St. Frances of Rome Church, St. Leonard Church and the Basilica of Saint Joseph Proto-Cathedral.
The program was introduced by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in March of 2020, then put on hold due to the pandemic. It was revived locally this year by Catholic Charities of Louisville and the Family and Life Ministries Office.
Dean has asked that parishioners be patient as the program develops.
“This is a program from the ground up, so there will be hiccups,” she said. “We’re figuring out how to do this as we go. … There are going to be barriers we face; it won’t always be perfect or smooth. Any grace they can give us is much appreciated.”
For the 29 parishes not included in the first cohort, Dean said there’s plenty to do to stay involved.
“First one is for them to stay up to date with the e-newsletters,” she said. “Make sure they’re on our newsletter list and reading them.”
Parishioners and pastors who attended an information session should already be on the email list. For those who aren’t receiving emails or aren’t sure whether they’re on the list, Dean said to reach out to the Family and Life Ministries Office at email@example.com.
Program organizers also will hold “regularly scheduled trainings on different topics,” such as trauma-informed care, postpartum depression and childhood development. Those training sessions will be announced via the e-newsletters and are available to all parishioners, not just those already part of a cohort.
Dean also suggests staying involved by volunteering with Catholic Charities, especially with the community support services, which will enable parishioners to gain experience working with clients before Walking with Moms in Need is officially established at their parish.
Some of those volunteer opportunities are:
- Mama Matters support group: Help parents navigate things like self-care, relationships, parenting and family wellness.
- Community Referral Line, which receives calls from people in need of assistance: Volunteers who answer the referral line respond to voicemails and put clients in touch with resources. Dean said it’s “a good way to learn what resources are involved.”
- Food pantries: Distributing food at food pantries, such as Catholic Charities’ Father Jack Jones Food Pantry located in the basement of the old rectory of Holy Name Church on South Third Street.
Catholic Charities’ volunteer page includes a comprehensive list of available volunteer opportunities.
Dean also encouraged parishes to stay involved in the initiative by offering support and expertise, even if they aren’t part of a cohort yet.
“Work with us to provide needs and expertise when needed,” she said. “We don’t know what those needs are going to be yet. A pregnant mother who needs help with rent, we can take care of that in-house. But maybe a mom with a 2-year-old needs help with a car repair. We can’t help with that in-house.”
She said Walking with Moms in Need will make those needs and any program updates known in e-newsletters.