by Randy Sly Catholic Online 9/4/2009
Women, who are pregnant and in need of help, are getting that message in many places across the U.S. thanks to an apostolate begun by two Texas Catholics.
The Gabriel Project enlists parishes to spread the word by signs, brochures and car decals with a hotline number that they are ready and willing to help a woman with spiritual, material and emotional support during and after her pregnancy.
When a Gabriel Project volunteer gets a call, a referral is given to the project coordinator from a parish closest to the location of the woman who calls. The coordinator then assigns a trained mentor, one of “Gabriel’s Angels,” who will maintain ongoing contact.
The parish can get involved in a variety of ways, showing the unconditional love of Christ in the process.
The Gabriel Project was begun by Cathy McConn from Houston and her friend, Rex Moses from Corpus Christi, in 1990. They saw a sign erected by the Rev. Msgr. John Perusina outside the rectory of St. Michael’s Church on Sage Road, Houston. It read, “If you will have your baby, this parish will help you in every way.”
They realized this could be a message embraced by every Catholic parish. Soon the Gabriel Project enlisted Churches throughout the Dioceses of Galveston-Houston and Corpus Christi. Today, the Gabriel Project is present in 16 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.
Participating parishes put a “Life Sign” on their property with text similar to the following: “Gabriel Project – PREGNANT? NEED HELP? We, the members of this church community, see in the birth of each baby a fresh expression of God’s unfailing love. For the love of God and each and every one of His children, we offer immediate and practical help to any woman.”
On August 24, The Gabriel Project received a strong endorsement from Archbishop George Niederauer of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. The Archbishop was a strong proponent of Proposition 8 last year and has always been a champion of the social teachings of the Church, especially with regard to life.
In a letter to his pastors and parochial vicars, the Archbishop noted, “The USCCB’s Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities notes that one of the objectives of a parish pro-life committee should be to ‘develop or adopt a parish-based ministry to pregnant women and their children.’ The Gabriel Project answers this call. It embodies the practical support that the bishops promise pregnant women.”
Adding action to their affirmation, the Archdiocese will be hosting a conference on September 12 in order to train parishioners throughout Northern California on ministering to pregnant women in distress.
In a blog article about The Gabriel Project, Fredi D’Alessio underscored that the ministry fulfills the heart of the bishops not only with regard to life but also the care of women who choose life.
He wrote, “On November 12, 2002, the thirtieth anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) published a statement in which they asserted: ‘Our firm conviction as Catholics that life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception has been a part of the Church’s constant witness since the Apostolic age and has inspired millions to defend human life at every stage.’
“In this same statement the bishops said, ‘We renew our offer of assistance to anyone considering abortion: If you are overwhelmed by the decisions you face, if you cannot afford medical care, if you are homeless or feel helpless, whatever your needs, we will help you. The Church and her ministries, inspired by the word and example of Jesus Christ, will help you with compassion and without condemnation.’
“In the USCCB’s Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities, the bishops stated: “Respect for human life compels us to reach out to those with special needs. With the support of the faith community, Catholic organizations and agencies provide pastoral services and care for pregnant women, especially those who are vulnerable to abortion and who would otherwise find it difficult or impossible to obtain high-quality medical care.’”
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online. He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
- Read YOU CAN BE AN ANGEL.
- For how to implement it your area click here or/and call Cathy McConn at 713-741-8729.
- Read The Gabriel Project: Interview with Cathy McConn.
- Listen to an interview with Cathy McConn on Immaculate Heart Radio (8/21/2009).