By Ambria Hammel, The Catholic Sun
For puzzle solvers, “roe” is a short crossword clue or answer to “ova” or “egg.” Just a knock in the log grid.
On the Supreme Court ruling document, Roe lingered nearly 50 years and remained highly contested. These are the right to life in the womb and the right of the woman who encloses the unborn child.
Abortion has been a legal way to end a premature pregnancy since 1973. A leaked court opinion on May 2 suggested that Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion, could be reversed. Regardless of how its content unfolds, or even when, two things remain clear: the Church’s unwavering position that abortion is wrong because it ends human life, and the perpetual presence of the Church to help women facing a pregnancy crisis.
The way the Church helps these women is different today. It is no longer just a prayerful, curbside counseling effort, or simply referring pregnant women to a crisis pregnancy center or home shelter. They travel together until the dark path finds a spot of light.
In other words, Walking with Moms in Need. The catch-all term describes a redeployment of energy between parishes, pregnancy resource centers and other social services in every US diocese.
Join their journey
The goal is to support pregnant and parenting mothers as a “group of disciples more ready to help her find what she needs and say ‘yes’ to life more easily,” said Mike Phelan, director of Marriage and Respect Life for the diocese.
Walking with Moms in Need originally launched in early 2020 and nearly 41 local parishes were on board to offer support in English and Spanish. The pandemic has delayed or halted some outreach activities, so the diocese has revamped its efforts this year. By then, five Life Sisters had moved to Phoenix and joined together as a resource for parishes as well.
Today, 21 parishes have launched Walking with Moms in Need or are about to do so. Three others, including a parish with a lapsed ministry, contacted Phelan in a recent 10-day period to express interest.
“Having a plan to really put something small in place that’s ready to go with women is really exciting for people at all kinds of stages,” Phelan said. “It really brought in a healthy and diverse community.” Parishioners with social work training, organizational leadership skills, pro-life counseling experience, counselors, a desire to purchase baby items and other traits supported Walking with Moms in Need.
“It’s almost as if whatever gifts God has given you, you put them to the service of the mission,” said Sr. Bethany Madonna, Superior of the Sisters of Life of Phoenix.
Walk with moms in need
Local – dphx.org/walking-with-moms-in-need
National – walkingwithmoms.com
Getting Started – Mike, [email protected] or (602) 354-2355
Sisters of Life – [email protected] or call/text (480) 389-5650
Catholic Charities – [email protected] or call/text 888-818-4445
serve as companions
The first gift is that of time, mainly through an attentive ear by SMS or telephone. Often within an hour of a mother calling or texting the ministry hotline at St. Theresa’s Parish – busy with daily 12-hour shifts – a volunteer responds. They try to meet moms face to face and find out their most pressing need.
“Most of these women don’t know what it’s like to be followed by someone,” Cindy Ketcherside said. They say, “Do you really want to meet me? Do you want to have a coffee with me? Are you really going to show yourself?
Yes to all. These meetings between mothers and one of the 18 companions trained by the ministry – those who work directly with mothers – have affected 28 children from 12 families in the Sainte-Thérèse region since January. Some mothers are pregnant with their first child. Some have already had an abortion once and want help choosing differently this time around. Others have older children and are struggling to make ends meet, especially with rising rents.
Housing is the main concern of mothers. They are overcharged with rent and risk being evicted or having to choose between rent and food. Companions connect moms to help with prevention, transportation, childcare, food and education.
“Most moms are just overwhelmed. They don’t know where to go,” Ketcherside said.
St. Theresa’s Walking with Moms in Need has a master list with over 40 resource categories and a handful of examples in each. True to the name of ministry, companions do more than just name resources. They stay with each mom to help with requests, make phone calls or attend appointments.
The magic operates in a living room as a setting for the parish. It includes computers for completing applications and a play area for children.
“We want them to be up and taking care of their kids, taking care of the family, and taking care of themselves,” Ketcherside said.
Walking with Mums in Need was launched in the parish in January and extended to the whole community at the end of May. There are garden signs, flyers and trifolds everywhere a mom might be. From the market to the mother. Others explain the scope of referring partners.
sisters of life
The Sisters of Life maintain close ties with local crisis pregnancy centers whose staff and volunteers refer women to the sisters’ helpline. These are vulnerable pregnant mothers who could use daily contacts. Priests and parishes are also connecting these women with the sisters, who have walked with 17 mothers in need since January.
Pregnant women show up, including at the convent, expecting to enter directly into their pregnancy story, but the sisters politely precede them with “How are you?” Are you hungry?”
It relieves the burden, anxiety and fear, said Sr. Bethany Madonna.
“Our first priority is to love them. We receive them. We meet her wherever she is and allow her to share her story and her heart,” said Sr Bethany Madonna.
“She can begin to rest and be relieved of the burdens she carries and begin to experience her own goodness and be delighted.”
Most of the time, moms are looking for baby clothes, diapers and other resources. The sisters have about 100 trained colleagues across the diocese who help with these items. Colleagues also include lawyers, doctors, men with trucks to move/deliver large items, recovery aids, emotional support and more.
A woman served was prone to abort. While searching for “Phoenix abortion” online, she stumbled across the sisters on Google Maps. Overall, the mums are deeply moved “and definitely feel supported, supported and loved,” Sr Bethany Madonna said.
“Once they said ‘yes’ [to life] and feel really solidified in that, it’s really beautiful to see them flourish,” said Sr. Bethany Madonna.
She recounted how some women, who once struggled to keep their pregnancies quiet, eventually celebrated with baby showers and gender reveal parties after bonding with the sisters and their co-workers. Sr. Bethany Madonna also recapped a Valentine’s Day party the sisters threw for one mother’s unborn love and a baby shower that included a prayer and song of blessing for another.
A renewed faith
A Phoenix mom the sisters traveled with has returned to the sacraments after 13 years. A priest came to hear her in confession then the sisters took the mother to mass the same evening.
However, the majority of women served by the ministry of Saint Therese do not know what faith is. Companions take the approach of St. Francis ensuring they experience Christ in what they do, what they say and what they make moms feel. The companions remind moms that their family is part of their daily prayers.
The national initiative Walking with Moms in Need offers 12 prayer guides, in English and Spanish, on its website. Individuals and parishes are encouraged to offer regular prayer for pregnant and struggling mothers. St. Rose Parish in Anthem posted it on its Respect Life ministry webpage.
The Walking with Moms website suggests a novena to St. Gianna, who is a powerful patroness for pregnant and parenting mothers. The saint’s daughter has visited Phoenix in recent years. The full novena text can be viewed online and also includes simple web banners to be shared electronically each day.
Two optional support groups will begin this fall at St. Theresa and those served by Walking with Moms in Need are invited. “Embrace Grace” is a short-term Bible-based group for expectant mothers. “Embrace Life” is for single mothers.
Phelan, who has led reverence for life efforts for the diocese for the past 17 years, called Walking with Moms in Need “one of the most anointed ministries” he has ever seen. He hopes to see nearly 40 parishes involved by the end of the year.