By Laura Kilgus | Catholic News Service
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (CNS) — With Ada’s first pregnancy, she didn’t have the support, she didn’t know the resources available to her. She often ran out of diapers and clothes and had trouble finding people to talk to about it.
Her OB-GYN suggested that she reach out to St. Gabriel’s Call, a ministry of the Diocese of Providence dedicated to easing a mother’s worries by providing families with diapers, toiletries, cribs, baby carriers and many other items.
“Knowing that there are resources out there for moms could definitely help in the decision of having a baby and not resorting to other options,” Ada said.
To strengthen this already faithful commitment to mothers and families in Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of Providence has announced a pledge to double the assistance the diocese provides to pregnant mothers and new mothers, as well as their children, through this ministry that has an incredible impact on countless lives.
The commitment increases annual funding for assistance to the Diocese of Providence’s Office of Life and Family Ministry to $50,000. The increased resources will allow the ministry to provide financial, material, social-emotional and other wide-ranging support to mothers and their children including cribs, car seats, furniture, baby clothes and linens, diapers, formula, toys, household goods, toiletries and gift cards.
Mothers who participate in the program also receive one-on-one support as well as referrals to meet any other needs through a case worker. St. Gabriel’s Call provides services from three locations in Providence, as well as at satellite locations in Newport, Wakefield, Warren, West Warwick and Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
Increased economic stress brought on by the rising costs of groceries and fuel prices, along with supply-chain issues, and the unavailability of needed baby items such as infant formula, places additional undue stress on new, struggling families, explained James Jahnz, secretary of the diocesan Office of Catholic Charities and Social Ministry.
“It’s a critical time for the diocese to redouble our long-standing efforts to support mothers and children,” Jahnz told the Rhode Island Catholic, Providence’s diocesan newspaper.
“Low-income mothers are disproportionately affected during these economic and supply chain crises due to so many factors including transportation, access, limitations of aid programs and retail shortages,” he said. “Bishop Tobin’s assistance aims to help these young families bridge the gap between their means and existing programs.”
St. Gabriel’s Call project assistant Marissa Kelly said the impact on these families can be enormous if the community treats the mothers as children of God, as a person who comes in need of help.
“It doesn’t matter where they come from,” Kelly said.
“We look at the needs of the moms who are bringing a life into this world and we need to support them,” she added. “We see these people as our brothers and sisters — we are one body, one community. We welcome them with open hearts, with love and with kindness because they need a lot of this.”
Mika, another mom who has benefited greatly from this ministry, said: “There’s no shame in going there because you feel comfortable, you feel like this is a family.”
“St. Gabriel’s Call is a life-affirming ministry that offers material, emotional and spiritual help,” said Lisa Cooley, coordinator of the Providence diocesan Office of Life and Family. “We take mothers and children by the hand and walk them over the threshold of desperation to one of hope and joy.”