Wealth of pro-life ministries exist to serve women, children
By Nissa LaPoint
Photo by James Baca/DCR
Pro-life ministries are sprouting and bearing fruit across the Denver Archdiocese.
From grass-roots movements to nationally-linked campaigns, Catholics are witnessing to life through a variety of ministries and events.
The Gabriel Project
This month—which the U.S. Church marks as Respect Life month—the Gabriel Project will open its fourth house to serve pregnant women and new mothers with clothing and baby items, emotional and spiritual support, and referrals for housing, food and medical needs.
“As a ministry, we take anyone who comes to us,” said director Mimi Eckstein. “We serve families that maybe wouldn’t qualify for other agencies’ aid. We’re the Church, so we’re here to help all people.”
The Jefferson County Gabriel House, located at 1980 Nelson St. in Lakewood, opened Monday and will be blessed and dedicated by Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 17.
The grass-roots growth of the program, she said, has relied on the invitation of parish pastors and volunteers to open and run the houses. Parishes dedicate a portion of their property or a nearby house for the project. Each location is typically open twice a week.
The Gabriel Project is a national ministry that began a local outreach under the Respect Life Office of the Denver Archdiocese when Eckstein served as director. Today the Gabriel Project is a program of the archdiocese’s social ministries. Eckstein now oversees the Gabriel Project fulltime to meet the growing need for its services.
The pro-life ministry Project Rachel also came to Denver after its founding in 1991. Catholic Charities in Denver took the post-abortive healing program under its wings from the Respect Life Office and director Kathryn Benes, a licensed psychologist, oversees it.
The confidential ministry is composed of trained clergy, therapists and spiritual directors who help women heal from the aftermath of an abortion and find reconciliation with the Church. The archdiocese is home to one of 110 similar ministries in the United States. It is located at 4045 Pecos St. in Denver.
Lighthouse Women’s Center
This week also ushered in the long-awaited opening of the Lighthouse Women’s Center Oct. 1. The center started as a private initiative before becoming a ministry of Catholic Charities in Denver under the direction of Lynn Grandon, who also heads the archdiocese’s Respect Life Office.
The center was blessed and dedicated by Archbishop Aquila Sept. 12 at its location across from Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains at 3894 Olive St. in Denver.
The 1,300-square-foot house will become a place for women to receive pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, counseling and reproductive health care education five days a week—at no cost.
40 Days for Life
Oct. 7 is National Life Chain Sunday 2012. More than 15 are planned in Colorado and nearly 1,000 across the country. Life chains planned in the Denver Archdiocese include:
Knights of Columbus: 2 p.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 7 at the intersection of Hover and Nelson roads in Longmont. Call 720-354-2226 for details.
Holy Ghost Church: 1:30 p.m.- 3 p.m. Oct. 7 at 1900 California St. in Denver. RSVP at 303-292-1556. Benediction to follow. Participants are asked not to bring signs to this event.
St. Joan of Arc Church: 9:15 a.m. Oct. 20 at the intersection of Ward Road and 58th Avenue. Call 303-420-1232 for details.
The Colorado outreach of the 40 Days for Life campaign—a grassroots initiative of prayer, fasting, constant vigil and ministering to help end abortion—is in its fifth campaign.
Its fall campaign—from Sept. 28 to Nov. 4—is the first to offer Masses during its vigil across from Planned Parenthood in Denver. Local priests are offering Mass and Bishop James Conley will lead a rosary after Mass 8 a.m. Oct. 6.
“It’s a blessing that Bishop Conley came on and really accepted 40 days for Life as a campaign worthy of attention,” said Denver director Rosalinda Lozano.
In conjunction with campaigns in Boulder and Fort Collins, the Denver outreach has seen an increase in individual participants since its start in the spring of 2011.
Nationally, the campaign has taken place in 440 cities with 1,894 participants, according to its website.
Another national initiative has found its way to Denver this month. Parishes and individuals are taking part in the National Life Chain Sunday 2012 campaign to make a public witness for life while praying for an end to abortion. More than 15 are planned in Colorado and nearly 1,000 across the country.
Bearfoot for Babies
Also seeing continued growth is a Catholic college student-driven initiative called “Bearfoot for Babies” based at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and named after their mascot Klawz, a bear.
Students pledge to go barefoot for a week and participate in a series of walks, life chains, Mass and Eucharistic processions to witness to life, said director of development Aileen Kato of St. Peter Parish in Greeley.
“It started with a small group and it’s grown to a large group with activities throughout the week calling attention to the atrocities of abortion,” she said.
The initiative runs from Oct. 7 to Oct. 12. Bishop Conley will celebrate Mass for the group 5:15 p.m. Oct. 10 at St. Peter Church.
“We’re trying to touch the college community through this as well inviting the surrounding community,” Kato said. “It’s quite profound to see on a secular campus.”