Childless in the Catholic Church? Ministry says infertile couples have purpose, too

Serenity Quesnelle, left, and Lauren Allen, writer and founder of The Fruitful Hollow, respectively, say Catholics who struggle with infertility can embrace their crosses with joy and purpose. The ministry’s name is inspired by Allen’s belief that God is calling childless couples to be “fruitful in the now,” regardless of God’s plan for their families. (Courtesy photos)

Spouses not blessed with children can bless the world in other ways, say writer, founder of The Fruitful Hollow online blog and resource

April 18-24 is recognized as National Infertility Awareness Week. For Catholic resources for couples struggling with infertility, visit

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Infertility is a painful struggle. For a Catholic woman in particular, living with infertility can be a lonely time as she finds herself surrounded by friends with growing families. 

Serenity Quesnelle, a member of St. Margaret of Scotland Parish in St. Clair Shores, was married in September 2017. She and her husband dreamed of being parents right away, but almost four years after their wedding, they continue to pray and wait.  

In 2018, Quesnelle started an Instagram blog, @awaitingbabyq_, to document the journey. Now she has found another way to help others facing infertility, as a writer and social media coordinator for a new online resource, The Fruitful Hollow.  

The website, formed by Texas native Lauren Allen, features heartfelt blog posts on topics relating to infertility by a team of volunteer writers, along with spiritual guidance from Allen’s uncle, Fr. Christopher Shackelford. 

Allen had the idea for the site after a setback in her own walk with infertility in January. As she listened to a podcast about hope, she heard God say, “You’re meant to carry your cross, not to pray that it goes away from you.” 

Allen realized then that crosses come with graces, and that it was time to shift her focus to hope in God instead of being distracted by spiritual darkness. The name “The Fruitful Hollow” came to mind, centered on the idea that although a couple might struggle with infertility, God is calling them to become fruitful in the midst of it all, or “fruitful in the now.” 

“We’re told to be fruitful and multiply, but at The Fruitful Hollow we want to talk about how we can be fruitful in the moment, knowing that for some, having a child may not happen,” Quesnelle said. “The pain of infertility changes us so deeply. Still, we always want to remain hopeful but realistic.”

Allen had read many blogs and articles about infertility, but she didn’t find many Catholic resources that were current. Some didn’t have the positivity she felt God wanted for her. 

The Fruitful Hollow, found at, aims to offer inspiration, advice and guidance for Catholics and other couples struggling with infertility, from both women’s and men’s perspectives. 

“There was one woman who posted that she feels so hurt going to baby showers that she’s asked not to be invited to showers anymore. And it struck me: that’s not from God. We’re supposed to be excited about life even while on this journey of infertility,” Allen said.

The site is filled with inspiration, testimonies, and the truth of Church teachings. As written in the “About” section of The Fruitful Hollow, the goal of the resource is to help readers “pick up our cross and carry it wherever the Lord needs us to go. May we have the strength to grow in holiness, virtue, and wisdom.”

While most content is geared toward women, Allen plans to add posts for men going forward, given that the site’s most-viewed blog post to date is titled, “Infertility from a husband’s perspective.” The article was published on March 17 to coincide with the feast of St. Joseph two days later. A monthly column, “Ask Elizabeth,” will soon be changed to “Ask Elizabeth and Zechariah” to address both members of a couple.

In addition, The Fruitful Hollow will offer viewpoints and suggestions for those who want to support couples journeying with infertility, as well as ideas for Church leaders to provide outreach. In a survey conducted on The Fruitful Hollow in March, 66% of respondents said they did not discuss fertility as a couple before marriage. 

“During marriage prep, we spent time learning about natural family planning, and during our vows we say we’ll be accepting of children, but no one talks about, ‘What if it doesn’t happen?’” Quesnelle said. “My husband and I often feel left out of the Catholic community. That’s something I hope we can explore — ways for the Church to include those of us who are dealing with infertility. As a Catholic couple, it’s really difficult to figure out where we fit because so many things are based around families with young children. But my husband and I — we are a family, too.”

Later this year, The Fruitful Hollow will launch a mentorship ministry, matching women facing infertility with women who have already been down the path. The ministry will be aptly named “Sisters of Hannah” and will offer one-on-one support, prayer and friendship. On May 1, The Fruitful Hollow will host a discernment retreat on Zoom for women interested in becoming a mentor. 

“We are hoping this ministry reaches the people who need it, and that it helps people know they’re not alone,” Quesnelle said. 

The Fruitful Hollow

New blog posts can be found weekly on The Fruitful Hollow at For information about the Sisters of Hannah discernment retreat on May 1 or to register, click on “mentorship” at the top of the home page.