In the beginning, you were very small. The doctor said that perhaps your mother had miscarried because we could no longer hear your heartbeat. So, your mother and I went to the hospital to have a special ultrasound to check and see if you were still alive. We prayed and waited for the technician to find any sign of life. Suddenly, we saw and heard the flutter of your heart, unmistakable in its rhythm and strength. Before the technician even said anything, we already knew our prayers were answered, and you were still with us. You had been alive for only six weeks and were still 34 weeks from your birthday. And we could not contain our joy.”
This is the story my wife, Jen, and I share with our oldest child, Molly, whose heartbeat we had the privilege of witnessing in real-time during those very first days of pregnancy. I often recall the wonder and relief of realizing Molly was alive, especially recently as I witnessed a campaign to attack children in the womb manifest across Michigan through Proposal 3, the proposed, extreme constitutional amendment better known as the “anything goes” abortion amendment.
The Catholic Church in Michigan advocates strongly against this destructive proposal. All seven Catholic bishops of Michigan have emphatically urged the faithful to vote “no” on Proposal 3 and have further encouraged us to share its potentially devastating implications with others. Put simply: Proposal 3 ignores the will of the people and would impose upon us unregulated abortion — performed anywhere, at any time, by any person, for any reason.
It is within this context that I am humbled to serve as CEO of Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan (CCSEM), part of a team of people at CCSEM and in the Archdiocese of Detroit working day and night to help pregnant women care for and protect their children before, during, and after birth. I take to heart what Archbishop Vigneron has said: “We cannot create a world where abortion is unthinkable without also creating a world in which all families receive the support they need. This work of mercy is critical and continuous.”
In accordance with the Archbishop’s words, the critical work of CCSEM does not hinge upon the result of the Nov. 8 election — or any election. Whether Proposal 3 is accepted or rejected, women in Michigan will continue to face tremendous barriers to choosing life. Many of these women will hear ominous whispers promising that everything in their lives will be easier if they take a pill or visit a clinic to remove the “clump of cells” that grows inside them. Our job at CCSEM is to love and serve all women and families who come to us, helping them see these lies for what they are. We do not judge, but rather we offer real support and care.
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One key avenue through which we assist women is Walking With Moms in Need, a partnership between CCSEM and the Archdiocese of Detroit that equips and assists Catholic parishes and parishioners in raising awareness about resources available to pregnant and parenting moms in need. The initiative seeks to make each parish in the archdiocese a place where mothers and their babies are welcomed and supported — where the dignity of every human life is upheld and valued.
Walking With Moms in Need is a way for every Catholic to help every mom see the baby in her womb as a gift to be treasured, protected, and loved rather than as a threat to her autonomy. By helping women access medical care, baby formula, diapers, housing, and the support network of a caring community, Catholics affirm the gift of every human life and empower women to choose life for their babies.
I want to use this opportunity to invite you to visit ccsem.org/mom and familiarize yourself with the resources listed so that you can provide real, tangible help to any neighbor, family member, or stranger you meet in the weeks ahead. On that same website, you may also subscribe to our newsletter or sign up to volunteer at one of the many organizations or parishes that help pregnant mothers.
I am often pulled aside by people who say, “I was adopted through Catholic Charities.” I celebrate with mothers who once came to us, pregnant and lacking options, now thriving in parenthood with support from our programs. I’ve heard from mothers who were empowered to give life to their children and carefully select loving homes through adoption. In these and many other ways, our Church has a beautiful legacy of protecting mothers and children through pregnancy and long after. If we were each to survey our friends and family, we would no doubt be surprised by how many lives have been touched by stories like these.
Just like my daughter, every person’s story begins with their entire body the size of a mustard seed. As Joseph and Mary protected Jesus in the womb, let us, as Catholics and people of goodwill, choose life for our community by volunteering our time, donating money and baby supplies, and doing anything we can to help moms in need choose a future of joy for the one whose body is small but whose future is bright.
LifeNews Note: Paul Propson is CEO of Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan, the Christian service arm of the Archdiocese of Detroit, where this column originally appeared.