The Catholic Church has a very intentional purpose in this world — to share the love of God with others. When we start breaking down what that means, we see how the Church brings God to the people through the sacraments and how it serves and loves those in our community, just as Jesus intended with His own mission.
As a vibrant parish with many active ministries that serve and love others, we don’t want to think of the pro-life mission as just another “ministry.” Instead, we want to think of creating a pro-life culture within the walls of our parish. As culture is created and our hearts truly understand the Church’s stance on the dignity of human life, from conception to natural death, we can begin to reach out and influence the culture of our extended community and support those both within and beyond our parish walls in an effort to support those in need.
Each year, our parish participates in several events that promote the implementation of this pro-life culture into the community around us. Through events like 40 Days for Life, the Life Chain, and the March for Life at the State Capital, our parishioners have prayed and promoted the pro-life mission in the surrounding communities.
“As Christians, everything we do should be seen through a pro-life lens,” says Teresa Pratt, a parishioner who has been actively involved in the pro-life movement. “We cannot function as Christians if we do not respect the dignity of life. We have to begin in our parishes because it stems from there into other outreaches. You cannot have true charity without the pro-life stance where we see the dignity that God gave to every single human life.”
As Teresa raised her children, she started to see the impact of abortion.
“I heard a statistic that if you were born after 1973, one-third of your generation is not present today,” she says. “That really impacted me. I eventually took over organizing the 40 Days for Life event which has now extended into having people present and praying outside the abortion clinic in Lansing 365 days a year. Fr. Fons and Christy Whiting came along and they have a huge passion for making sure that we are a pro-life parish.
“We have so many ministries that are involved in the pro-life movement, such as the Knights of Columbus, that have been working really hard to raise funds for an ultrasound machine for the Cristo Rey Pregnancy Support Center,” she adds. “We had moms at the school and additional parishioners that went out door to door last year to help educate people on the political implications of the disastrous Proposal 3 ballot initiative. We just really have great pro-life warriors here!”
The pro-life movement has been accused of only caring for the unborn babies, not those in crisis. We all know that this is false, but we have also seen the movement step up to support and make sure that those who are in need are cared for. With many active crisis pregnancy centers in our state that actively provide support to pregnant and new moms, we know that there are many resources out there for those in need.
The Walking With Moms in Need Initiative is a very important new effort, instituted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which consists of five phases. First, we begin building a core team of parishioners to be a part of this initiative. Next, we actively begin by doing a local inventory of resources available to pregnant moms in need. After those resources are compiled, they raise awareness within the parish so parishioners can point pregnant moms and/or moms with young children to places where they can get help. After that, the core team will identify where the community has gaps in the areas where moms need to be served and then seek how the Holy Spirit may be calling us to fill in the gaps. The plan is to launch the second phase of this initiative this fall.
“It is so important to educate parishioners about the pro-life mission,” Christy Whiting says. “Every single person is made in the image and likeness of God. Every single person is a gift from God. There are so many struggles that pregnant mothers face and we as a church need to walk alongside them because no one was meant to do this alone. Jesus loves them and we need to be His hands and feet to care for them.
“Loneliness is an epidemic in this society and we need to reach out to them and make sure they are supported in their motherhood,” she adds. “We need them to see that they are doing God’s work bringing a new soul into the world. We have the power to bless them and help them to thrive.”
Events that are also taking place this fall will include the Life Chain on Sunday, Oct. 1. Life Chain is a national event in which pro-life supporters in cities across the country gather simultaneously to peacefully raise awareness and pray for an end to abortion. We’ll gather on the four corners in downtown Williamston from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. to pray and witness to the value of every life.
From Sept. 27 to Nov. 5, we will be participating in 40 Days for Life. This international outreach has seen a significant impact since it began in 2007. People prayerfully stand outside of abortion centers to pray for a change of heart for the mothers who are seeking abortions and of the people who work there. This mission has seen over 23,000 lives saved, 251 abortion workers quit, and 139 abortion centers close.
Our church is developing a pro-life intercessory prayer team. This is a wonderful way for parishioners who live very busy lives or who are homebound and unable to actively participate in some of the events to be involved in the pro-life movement within the parish. Emails are sent out with prayer requests and those who receive them can pray for the intentions on the lists. Prayer support for the pro-life culture within our parish is one of the most vitally important parts of this movement. To sign up for the intercessory prayer team, contact Christy Whiting.
To learn more about the pro-life movement, find out more about the resources available in our area, or to stay up to date on the pro-life events in the area, go to our parish website at www.stmarywilliamston.org/pro-life.