By Bishop Robert J. Brennan
“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew, 25:40). God gives us life and calls us to a life of service to others, especially those in need. One such group in need can be expectant mothers who may be overwhelmed by the thought of having a baby when it was unplanned. Human life is a sacred gift from God, and every baby is a blessing. Still, we recognize that some of the circumstances at the news of a pregnancy can be overwhelming. Our moral obligation is to help those expectant mothers with life-affirming support and practical resources so their families can thrive.
As a consultant to the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops’ Pro-Life Committee, I want to ensure the faithful are informed about a Committee initiative known as Walking with Moms in Need. The organization was originally launched right before the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. As such, it never received the proper attention it deserved.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann, who at the time was the Chairman of the USCCB’s Pro-Life Committee, clearly defined the intent of Walking with Moms in Need saying, “The Church will seek to help fill the gaps in services and resources to mothers facing challenging pregnancies and those parenting young children in difficult circumstances.”
Let me be clear, Walking with Moms in Need is not about legislation, protesting, or advocacy. Its purpose is to offer compassion and support for women who have chosen life.
Through this outreach, the Church is faithfully following the example of Jesus Christ. Walking with mothers, and fathers too, who choose life, is indeed a proclamation of God’s love. But we must also remember that God loves, forgives and is merciful to everyone caught up in the difficult decisions surrounding the abortion issue – even those who choose abortion.
Last week, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. We reflected on Mary’s acceptance of God’s will when she was told she was to be the Mother of God. “Do not be afraid…” the angel Gabriel said to our Blessed Mother, and as Christians, we must give that same assurance to those who have decided to welcome a newborn child despite misgivings. And along with assurance must come help for those mothers who need it.
Here in our diocese, in churches throughout Brooklyn and Queens, I commit to bringing the Walking with Moms in Need program to our parishes this year. Together, we will stand shoulder to shoulder with those who choose life, and help them on their parenting journey. We need to build upon the services currently available and create a network for moms to turn to, without hesitation, in difficult times. I pray the good and faithful people of our diocese will become part of this positive effort to help the unborn and their mothers.
Several organizations in our diocese already walk with mothers who bring a child into this world despite financial or other concerns. The resources available can be found on our website: at dioceseofbrooklyn.org/marriage/abortion-counseling-alternatives.
The Life Center of New York in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and The Bridge to Life in College Point, Queens, provide counseling, medical referrals, clothing, diapers, toys, furniture, and more at no cost.
Catholic Charities Brooklyn Queens also helps expectant mothers. Through CCBQ’s Office of Mission, case management, rental and financial assistance, food benefits, prenatal care, and support groups are available. Catholic Charities here in Brooklyn and Queens also offer child development education and family support services. Through these efforts, no one in need is left to encounter the challenges of parenthood alone.
The Marriage, Family and Respect Life Ministry of the Diocese of Brooklyn works closely with a number of nonprofits to find housing for young mothers with children, including Providence House, the Rose Kennedy Family Center, and The Bethany House. The Children’s Village also maintains two supportive homes for teen moms and their babies in Flushing, Queens.
“Rachel’s Helpers” is a post-abortion ministry led by volunteers who meet for eight weeks using “Forgiven and Set Free,” a program for women who have had an abortion and are seeking spiritual healing from the experience. Meetings are strictly confidential and there are no fees. Women can call 347-702-2352.
There is help available to those who need it. But we, as disciples of our Lord, need to share this news with those who need to hear it. By putting our words into action, we can restore hope and renew faith. We can foster the next generation of our Church, by walking with those in need as they welcome a child into the world.
As Catholics, we know the love of God can sustain the women and families facing these challenges. Yet, we are called to show mercy and compassion to them. United as God’s children, we can work together to build the City of God.
Together, let us go out and channel calm amid great personal fear. Let us be a source of strength and guidance and walk with moms in need. For that is what Jesus calls us to do.
In closing, I ask that you recite and reflect on the Prayer for Pregnant Mothers.
May each of us be part of cultivating a culture of life here in Brooklyn and Queens, by committing ourselves to helping expectant mothers as they are preparing to welcome the great joy of a newborn child.
Prayer for Pregnant Mothers
“O Blessed Mother, you received the Good News of the incarnation of 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.”