October brings our annual observance of Respect Life Month throughout the Catholic Church. For the Year of St. Joseph declared by Pope Francis, this year's resources for life highlight the example of this great saint. In St. Joseph, faithful protector of both Jesus and Mary, we are reminded of our own call to welcome, safeguard and defend God’s precious gift of human life in both mother and child. What a perfect year, with the help of St. Joseph, to increase our own pro-life witness.
In his Respect Life Month statement, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, chairman U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, exhorts us, “Like St. Joseph, we are also called to care for those God has entrusted to us — especially vulnerable mothers and children. We can follow in the footsteps of St. Joseph as protector by advocating against taxpayer-funded abortion, which targets the lives of millions of poor children and their mothers here in the United States. We can imitate his care and provision by helping to start Walking with Moms in Need at our parishes, "walking in the shoes" of mothers experiencing a difficult pregnancy, especially low-income mothers in our communities.
On Sept. 29, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a $70 billion state budget bill, yet line-item vetoed seven items with more than $16 million in funding for abortion alternatives and pro-life initiatives. This included money for adoption advertising, pregnancy resource centers, on-campus assistance for pregnant and parenting students and referral support services. A spokesperson for Gov. Whitmer said the governor vetoed specific items because they did not “fully support reproductive health and choice.”
In this current reality for our archdiocese, we clearly see our call as the Body of Christ to uncover and provide alternative real choices that aid the lives of mothers and children with the help they so clearly deserve and desperately need. Often, we hear criticism both within and without our parish community that we “oppose abortion yet do little to assist parents in difficult circumstances.” Thankfully, more than 150 pregnancy help centers exist; these and adoption agencies have been founded by pro-life Michiganders around the state. Knowing about the extensive help available might be all the difference needed to protect a life. As people of life, one way we can make this real assistance known is through parish participation in Walking with Moms in Need.
In the Detroit initiative, we have created a partnership between the archdiocese’s Evangelical Charity and Pro-Life Ministry and Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan. Together with parish evangelical charity and pro-life coordinators, we equip and assist teams of parishioners in raising awareness about local resources while connecting them to vulnerable pregnant and parenting moms, including those family members already in our pews.
Everyone can come to know how to help a mom in need through visiting this website. Our pro-life ministry offers a toolkit to help each parish or family of parishes in the archdiocese become a place where moms and their babies are welcomed and supported — where the dignity of every human life is recognized, upheld, valued and celebrated. Discovering your gifts as an individual or as a parish, where you may need to fill a gap, will truly unleash the Gospel of Life in our communities.
We are grateful for the numerous parishes that have begun this ongoing work of mercy since last Advent at Archbishop Vigneron’s invitation to pastors. What a beautiful hallmark of evangelization!
If you are new to Walking with Moms in Need and did not take part in our first series of webinars earlier this year, please join us! We will be hosting the next three-part webinar series on how to implement this in your parish on Nov. 3, Nov. 17, and Dec. 9 at 10 a.m. We will walk you through the initiative and answer all your questions to make this as easy as possible for you to help in your parish. Please sign up with Kathleen Wilson, pro-life coordinator, at [email protected]
St. Joseph, “Help us to faithfully commit ourselves to the service and defense of human life — especially where it is vulnerable or threatened.” Oh, Defender of Life, pray for us!
Kathleen Wilson is the Pro-Life and Project Rachel coordinator with the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Department of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship. Visit www.aod.org/pro-life for more information.