The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a challenge to the dioceses of the United States — to ensure that every one of our parishes is a beacon of hope and support for mothers in need. To accomplish this, in the Archdiocese of Detroit we are launching the Walking with Moms in Need Initiative , an intentional process that parishes — and Families of Parishes — can walk through to identify resources and strategies for reaching out to and supporting vulnerable mothers and their children. Not only will the initiative help our parishes provide meaningful support to those in need, it will also help us to proclaim the Gospel of Life in all that we do!
To begin this work, each of us must begin to ask:
What would a mom in need find at my parish?
Upon entering, would an expectant mother encounter ministers who know the resources that are available to her in your community? If she were too afraid to ask, could she find this information in the bulletin or on the webpage? Would she find information about the local pregnancy center your parish partners with? What if there was a poor prenatal diagnosis, would she find support? Would she find images of the Blessed Mother or the Holy Family to help her pray and reflect on her new vocation?
What would a mother with a small child find?
Would she find childcare offered at any parish events? Would she be invited to baptismal classes? Would a mentor couple be available to support her? Would she find information about family and infant support resources available in your community? Would she find that children and mothers are celebrated and accepted into the life of the parish?
What would a new parishioner find walking into your parish?
Would they find witness to the sanctity of life in your petitions and bulletins? Would they find service projects they could participate in to support local pregnancy centers and vulnerable children? Would they be invited to participate in a pro-life ministry? Would they find pro-life events like the March for Life or Life Chain that they could participate in with other parishioners? Would they learn about pregnancy and infant services available in your community that they could share with their friends and neighbors?
What would someone grieving after an abortion find in your parish?
Would she learn that forgiveness, hope and healing are offered to everyone who seeks the Lord? Would she find information about post-abortive healing services like counselors and support groups? Would she see a community working to protect its vulnerable mothers by disrupting the cycle of violence that she had to experience?
As we have been preparing for the Walking with Moms in Need Initiative, I have been noticing all of the various good things our parishes are doing to support moms in need. This initiative will allow a parish to take inventory of what they offer, identify other resources in the community, locate gaps in service, and plan to partner with local resources to fill in any gaps that exist. Participating parishes will also learn various strategies for communicating to mothers in need in the community so that the parish is known as a welcoming and supportive place for all people, but especially for parents in need and their children.