SAMPLE PARISH RESPONSES
The following ideas and models can be used as jumping off points for your parish to consider as possible efforts to serve pregnant and parenting women in need. While these listings are hardly exhaustive, they can help you begin brainstorming and serve as a source of inspiration. Keep in mind the unique needs of your community and the gifts and resources that your parish has available.
Much of the information included here can be found in the Parish Action Guide on pages 43-47. Additional examples will continue to be shared on this page.
IDEAS FOR IMPROVING
Ideas for improving outreach to pregnant and parenting mothers in need in your parish include:
Clothing, Food, Diaper, and Volunteer Drives
Moms Mentoring Programs
"Baby Shower" for a Local Pregnancy Center
Printing Pregnancy Resources in the Bulletin
Mothers' Faith-Sharing or Prayer Group
Parenting or Job Training Classes
Use these ideas and examples to brainstorm ways your parish can increase support for mothers in need. More details can be found in the Parish Action Guide on pages 43-47.
MODELS FOR PARISH-BASED MINISTRIES
The Gabriel Project / Project Gabriel / The Gabriel Network
Relying on local parishes and dioceses, The Gabriel Project offers hope and assistance to any mother in need. Pregnant women are paired with trained volunteers called “Angels” from a participating parish who support the woman through friendship, encouragement, and prayer throughout her pregnancy. In addition to emotional and spiritual support, the parish volunteers help the expectant mother with various practical needs and connect her with local resources. These practical needs might include the following: pregnancy information and assistance with pre-natal care; maternity and baby clothes, cribs, strollers, and baby items; referrals for housing, medical care, and counseling; and parenting support or adoption information.
The Gabriel Project hosts a nationwide website that provides a directory to local Gabriel Project ministries across the country.
Elizabeth Ministry International
Elizabeth Ministry is an international movement designed to offer hope, help, and healing on the intimate issues of life, loss, and love. They work to encourage, educate, and equip people through mentoring, programs, and resources related to relationships, sexuality, and childbearing. Elizabeth Ministry serves as a resource center for individuals, couples, families, parishes, hospitals, and other organizations to celebrate the gift of each child conceived and born, and fully mourn each miscarriage, abortion, stillbirth, and infant or child death. They assist people in cherishing children, and witnessing to the dignity of all life, by treasuring the gifts of fertility and pregnancy, supporting those with infertility problems, encouraging people in the adoptive process, and assisting families facing prenatal, infant or children crisis, illness, or special needs. Elizabeth Ministry also works to defend human dignity and relationships by honoring sexuality, promoting chaste living, uplifting the sanctity of marriage, and giving help to those struggling with, or affected by, unhealthy sexual behaviors.
Elizabeth Ministry Chapters are parish-based efforts to support women and their families during the joys, challenges, and sorrows of the childbearing years. Volunteers offer maternal mentoring in the areas they have experienced. For example, a woman who has given birth and raised a family would visit a woman who is pregnant for the first time. She shares prayer, practical help, her lived experiences, and resources in the name of the parish community.
PREPARES is a statewide initiative of the Catholic Bishops of Washington State. They provide pregnancy and parenting support and activities through Catholic parishes across Washington State, serving all families from pregnancy to their child's fifth birthday. All are welcome to participate in the free support that PREPARES provides.
PREPARES supports the commitment to the sanctity of human life, especially in its most vulnerable early stages. It seeks not only to assure healthy births and avoid the tragedy of abortion, but also to provide emotional support to nurture healthy and flourishing relationships that uphold the vision of the family as the essential unit of society. PREPARES works with parishes to develop support for pregnant women and families and vary based on the parish.
The Catholic bishops of Washington State created and launched the PREPARES initiative in 2014. The first of its kind in the United States, PREPARES creates the capacity within Catholic parishes, other faith communities, and collaborating agencies across Washington State to assist pregnant mothers, fathers, and their families by walking with them on the journey from pregnancy to their child’s fifth birthday.
In Washington State, PREPARES is provided and coordinated through Catholic Charities of Spokane, Catholic Charities Serving Central Washington, and Catholic Community Services of Western Washington. Through each of these agencies, the Catholic Church provides life-affirming, professional, supportive services for infant children and their mothers and families including prenatal care, counseling, adoption services, and housing and medical care referrals.