Parishes throughout the archdiocese are being asked to participate in the national Walking with Moms in Need effort created by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The effort was launched in March 2020 to mark the 25th anniversary of the papal encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”), but the pandemic made it difficult for parishes to implement it.
“Now is a great time for us to just focus all of our congregations on what we can do to really give women good choices and to help everyone understand that the church does care about women and there’s many, many, many resources that we have on hand already and many that are available that we may not know of,” said Dawn Fitzpatrick, the archdiocese’s senior coordinator for Human Dignity and Solidarity
As part of the effort, parishes are asked to do an inventory of what resources are available to women in need of things such as pregnancy support and housing and develop a list of those resources. Those resources will then be shared with the entire parish.
The USCCB has various templates and guides at walkingwithmoms.com to help parishes through the process.
All of a parish’s social ministries should be able to get on board with Walking With Moms in Need because it includes all aspects of Catholic social teaching, Fitzpatrick said.
“Everyone should agree with this ministry,” she said. “Everybody should want to provide for people in need. Everyone should want others to know that our churches can do that. This is a great way for all of us to come together and to see how many things our ministries have in common.”
Parishes might discover unmet needs and develop outreaches around those as well, Fitzpatrick said.
“I don’t want to say this effort is because of abortion, because this really is just to say that if there is a woman in need, no matter what, we should be able to help her,” she said. “We want the fruit of it to be that a pregnant woman knows that she’s going to be taken care of.”
Maria Goldstein, the respect life coordinator for St. Theresa Parish in Palatine, jumped on the effort soon after it was announced.
“We were combing the internet and finding out all of the resources that were out there that were available to women,” she said.
Then they hit a standstill when the pandemic shut everything down.
She and other parishioners kept researching and, using the resources from the USCCB’s website, placed ads in the bulletin requesting prayers for mothers in need and to let people know that the effort existed.
Then the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was announced on June 24.
“We knew that we had to redouble our efforts and just make this as well known as we possibly could,” she said. “So basically, we wanted to get the information that we had gathered two years ago into every parishioner’s hands so that every parishioner would know about these resources.”
The parish group developed the website walkingwithmoms.weebly.com that includes local and national resources for domestic abuse, mental health services, legal assistance, food and clothing, pregnancy support, suggestions for talking with women considering abortion and more.
They announced the site at a gathering of pro-life leaders in the Northwest suburbs during a Mass of thanksgiving for the overturning of Roe v. Wade on Aug. 10 at St. James Church in Arlington Heights. Goldstein hopes all parishes in the area will list the site on their parish websites.
“I just think that it is so necessary. I can’t even think of a better word. It’s just necessary,” she said. “We want women to know that they are not alone.”
In the days after the Illinois legislature voted to repeal the state’s parental notification law, Catholic advocates pushed back on the idea that not requiring parents to be told when a minor seeks an abortion would make girls safer.
People driving down Northwest Highway in Palatine the afternoon of Oct. 16 were greeted by hundreds of pro-life supporters who gathered near St. Theresa Parish for the Northwest Families March for Life.
Parishioners and Knights of Columbus councils across the Archdiocese of Chicago welcomed a silver rose with prayers to Mary during the last week of August, part of the Knights of Columbus international annual Silver Rose pilgrimage.