Pro-life ministries help moms, kids
By Nissa LaPoint
The Gabriel Project
This is the second story in a three-part series highlighting local pro-life ministries.
Four months into her pregnancy, 33-year-old Shemika Ward walked into the doors of the Gabriel House in Denver looking for help.
It was an emotional time for her, she said, because a high-risk pregnancy left her uncertain of her due date and doctors told her she couldn’t work.
The Gabriel House, part of the Denver Archdiocese’s Gabriel Project outreach ministry to pregnant women in need and new mothers, welcomed Ward and gave her the items she needed for her son, Raijon. Ward now volunteers for the ministry.
“Considering I was no longer able to work I needed everything,” Ward said. “They provided everything I needed and it made a huge difference.”
Denver’s Gabriel House sees from 60 to 100 women during the two days a week it’s open, said director Mimi Eckstein. The needs are great and the ministry continues to expand with a new location in Boulder and two more planned to open this year in Aurora and Lakewood.
The Denver Archdiocese offers women a multitude of services including pregnancy counseling, adoption services, post-abortion healing and psychological services.
Catholic Charities of Denver, the charitable division of the archdiocese, launched a ministry called Regina Caeli Clinical Services, which helps women, families and children from all faiths and economic levels with mental health issues.
The director, Kathryn Benes, said the ministry has seen tremendous growth in the number of clients it has counseled at its location at 4045 Pecos St. in Denver.
Clients may receive services at reduced rates, offering many an opportunity for counseling they wouldn’t otherwise have, she said.
Women may also receive assistance through Catholic Charities’ Project Rachel, a confidential, post-abortion program launched in Denver in 1991.
Project Rachel is composed of trained clergy, therapists and spiritual directors who help women and those affected by abortion heal from the aftermath of an abortion.
The ministry is confidential for those who seek reconciliation with God, the Catholic Church, themselves and their child. The Denver Archdiocese is one of 110 in the United States with this ministry, said Meredith Stoops, local clinical administrative assistant for Project Rachel and Regina Caeli.
The Gabriel Project is also a national ministry that found its way to Denver.
A collaboration of parishes and volunteers will collect monetary and material donations to assist pregnant women materially, spiritually and emotionally.
The house used for the ministry located next door to St. James Parish in Denver is stocked with baby food, formula, cribs, blankets, car seats and clothes for babies and toddlers.
Leydy Herrera, 23, came to the house several months ago to receive the baby items she needed, including assistance with doctor’s appointments, and soon offered to volunteer and help other pregnant women.
“It’s kind of special what they do here,” she said, adding that it was difficult to find an organization that helps pregnant women.
She folded baby clothes with her mother, Lourdes Locano, and other volunteer Briana Wilhelmi of the Christ in the City missionaries at the house May 11.
Wilhelmi said the ministry has been a great way to touch women in need and bond with them.
“We see a lot of moms come back to the Gabriel House,” she said.