Helping those who help most vulnerable

By Elisa Tremblay and Peter Weiss | Special To The Compass | May 10, 2022

As leaders of the Office of Pro-Life for the Diocese of Green Bay, one of the great privileges we have is getting to know the wonderful individuals and organizations who are on the front lines supporting women, children, and families in need. We are richly blessed to have pregnancy care centers in almost every corner of our diocese, as well as the St. Gianna Clinic and Catholic Charities (see sidebar for a listing of organizations), that provide a wide array of services to care for pregnant women and their unborn children before, during, and after their pregnancies.

Over the past couple of years, through the nationwide “Walking with Moms in Need” initiative, we have made a concerted effort to highlight the work that our pregnancy care centers, St. Gianna Clinic and Catholic Charities do to support mothers in need. We have been building relationships with these organizations to understand the challenges they face and raise awareness for how Catholics can play a critical role in supporting their efforts. 

Recently, we invited leaders from these organizations to a meeting with Bishop David Ricken, so that we could listen deeply, and discern how best the cChurch in the Diocese of Green Bay can collaborate with them. This listening was done in the spirit of synodality, encouraged by Pope Francis for the entire Catholic Church, which calls us to listen to people, especially those on the margins, and discern how the Holy Spirit is inviting us to respond. As Bishop Ricken said in his opening remarks at the meeting, “It is important to get together all groups working on behalf of life to hear from one another, to mobilize for life, and make a powerful impact for life.” 

As we listened to these experts in the field, a few themes began to emerge. First, participants highlighted the significant needs facing the women they serve.  Specifically mentioned was the need for affordable housing, child care, and mental health supports. 

A second theme was concerns about the increases in chemical abortions and the added layers of trauma this can cause when an abortion takes place within a woman’s home. One participant expressed concern that even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, pro-abortion advocates will try to push chemical abortion as a form of contraception.  In reflecting on the future, participants agreed that the work of the pro-life movement is far from done.

After hearing from those on the front lines, here are a few ways we believe the Holy Spirit is calling on the church to respond.

The first call is to pray.  This is a spiritual battle, and we need to ask for God’s protection and guidance for all people involved in this work. We also need to work hard to make sure that all Catholics understand the truth that abortion takes the life of a human being. As one person said, “We need to overturn Roe v. Wade in the pews.” Catholics must join together as one voice, united in prayer, in defense of all life, from conception until natural death.

Second, these organizations need your financial support. As one participant said, “We don’t have the money, but we have the love.” While the services and resources vary amongst the groups, all leaders shared that the needs are significant, and they could easily expand their reach with additional financial support. As Catholics, how can we use our material blessings to support moms in need?

Lastly, we need Catholics who are willing to get creative to address the challenges ahead. What would it look like if all Catholics in the diocese used their our gifts, talents and experiences in some way, small or large, to support the efforts of those on the front lines? Specifically, many participants mentioned they would love to have stronger connections to our Catholic parishes to build collaborative partnerships to support women, children, and families in need. We encourage all Catholics to find the pregnancy center closest to you, reach out and ask how you can best support their ministry.

We are so grateful to these organizations working on the front lines in support of life. This meeting was a sacred opportunity to listen and learn from them, and this exemplifies why Pope Francis is calling us to be a listening church. But listening alone is not enough, we must be willing to act based on what we hear. If we are going to build a culture of life, where all women feel supported in their decision to choose life, all of us need to respond. So, how is God calling you to act?

Organizations that are Walking with Moms in Need

Agape Help Center – Waupaca
Alexandrina Pregnancy Resource Center – Green Bay
Bay Area Pregnancy Services – Marinette
Bella Medical Clinic – Oshkosh
Catholic Charities – Northeast Wisconsin
The Crossing – Manitowoc
Hope Life Center – Wausau (serves Antigo)
St. Gianna Clinic – De Pere
Vida Medical Clinic – Appleton

For more information on these organizations, go to www.disciplesforlifegb.org/walking-with-moms-in-need.

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