“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” — John 10:10
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
At the U.S. bishops’ meeting last November, dioceses and parishes were invited to devote a year of service to pregnant women starting this March. The initiative, called “Walking with Moms in Need: A Year of Service,” is intended to help mothers in our local communities who face challenging pregnancies.
I encourage all parishes and Area Catholic Communities in our diocese to participate in this very worthy effort. There’s no need to wait until March. The month of January — during which we dedicate a day of prayer, Jan. 22, for the legal protection of unborn children — is a fitting time to begin.
When the initiative was introduced, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, who is chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, noted that huge challenges face many women in difficult or unplanned pregnancies — including a lack of financial resources and life-affirming support networks. These women are among those on the peripheries whom Pope Francis calls us to serve more intentionally.
The Church, including our parishes, must be places where they can turn for support. In many cases, our parishes already assist women in unplanned pregnancies by supporting pro-life pregnancy centers, collecting supplies for new mothers and contributing to other charitable endeavors. Our diocesan Catholic Charities agency also helps pregnant women in crisis situations.
But there can be gaps. Has your parish/ACC compiled a comprehensive list of pregnancy assistance resources in the area? How are those resources promoted both inside and outside the parish community? In what other ways can your parish/ACC accompany pregnant women in need?
This assessment might be a good opportunity for parish/ACC pro-life and social concerns groups to work together. The protection of human life and human dignity is a hallmark of Catholic social teaching. My hope is that these groups would continue to work together on other issues that threaten life and dignity, including poverty, immigration and racism. In addressing all of these concerns, we must be Jesus’ heart of mercy, voice of hope and hands of justice in a world that too often devalues the unborn, the poor and the vulnerable.
The official launch of “Walking with Moms in Need” in March will mark the 25th anniversary of “Evangelium Vitae,” St. John Paul II’s encyclical on the “Gospel of Life,” in which he challenges us to take all the steps necessary to serve a “culture of life.” This initiative — combined with our ongoing pro-life efforts — is another step in the right direction.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Donald J. Kettler
Bishop Kettler is the ninth bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota.
A PRAYER FOR PREGNANT MOTHERS
O Blessed Mother, you received the good news of the incarnation of Christ, your Son, with faith and trust. Grant your protection to all pregnant mothers facing difficulties.
Guide us as we strive to make our parish communities places of welcome and assistance for mothers in need. Help us become instruments of God’s love and compassion.
Mary, Mother of the Church, graciously help us build a culture of life and a civilization of love, together with all people of good will, to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life. Amen.
— Committee for Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops