By Patsy Gonzalez
Angel for The Gabriel Project of the Archdiocese of San Francisco
Someone once said, “If you want to grow in faith, join the pro-life movement.” For those who have ventured forth after first hearing the call to defend life, they can certainly agree that not only have they discovered a livelier faith but have also embarked on an adventure they never expected.
One of the fronts in the pro-life struggle I have found most gratifying is having had the opportunity of directly interacting with a mother that is struggling with her pregnancy emotionally, financially, psychologically or morally. It has been my window into seeing how the younger generation is being affected by the world’s view of acceptable lifestyles. In the world we live in today where family values have deteriorated, unborn babies have become disposable and single parenting has become the norm, the need to mentor pregnant young mothers who do not have the proper support is becoming such an essential part of rebuilding our culture. It is also a beautiful way to build a Christian community.
After raising my family, being involved with mentoring mothers through The Gabriel Project of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the pregnancy resource center in San Jose where I volunteer has been the most fulfilling thing I could ever have chosen to do at this stage in my life. When people are asked what is most important to them beyond raising their families, they will often say, “Making a difference in the lives of others.” I can guarantee that when one makes a decision to direct a young mother to make better choices and restore to her the dignity of her womanhood, it will make a very big difference in her life.
Working with pregnant mothers is a very special calling and a deeply spiritual ministry. I say that because it is truly remarkable how an “angel” (the name The Gabriel Project calls their volunteers) can take on the challenge of mentoring a young woman who might come from a different culture, different faith, or a different generation. Truth and love breach those differences—and the inspirations from the Holy Spirit. When a mother knows she is genuinely loved by her angel, she begins to blossom like a little flower and her new found hope moves her to find solutions to some of her problems because she knows someone is walking by her side. Her pregnancy no longer seems overwhelming and she can see her way through to the future without seeing her baby as a burden. One teen mother I mentored that had been a runaway at one time and a school dropout became the most motivated student after having her beautiful little girl. She lived with her parents, taking full responsibility for the care of her child. She began to be very focused on her future and even raised the bar for the baby’s father if he wanted to remain in his baby’s life. I wonder how differently her life would have been if she had opted for an abortion instead, like many teenagers who see it as a quick fix.
I also had the privilege of working on a case involving a family that had experienced three generations of abortions. It had become part of their family culture to deal with their unwanted pregnancies. Finally, one mother who had had an abortion herself that she deeply regretted in her early 20s stood up to her family members who were pressuring her pregnant unmarried daughter to abort her child. It was The Gabriel Project she turned to for support. The eventual birth of this “unwanted” baby became the most joyful and celebrated event of the year for them. I’m happy to add that I accepted the role of godmother at the baptism! Going to church has now become part of their weekly routine. I remember reflecting at the time that the real goal of an angel is getting her young moms to Heaven!
Not all cases have happy endings. The heartbreaking loss of a baby to a chemical abortion by a mother I mentored made me realize that God’s most precious gift He has given us is free will. Times like that always bring to my mind the consoling words of Mother Teresa, “God doesn’t call us to be successful, only that we are faithful.” It also provides us with the opportunity to bring His healing forgiveness to those who did not choose life. How truly humbling it is for us to realize that neither successes nor failures are ours; that all we do is for His glory. We are merely His instruments.
Bringing order to disordered lives begins with one good choice—and an angel can make that possible. If I were to encourage someone to be a part of The Gabriel Project as an angel, I would say, “Don’t delay if you feel the call to get involved. You don’t have to have a doctorate or a master’s degree to walk the journey with a needy mom. All you need is heart filled with love for her (which the Lord will provide) and the truths of your Faith. All you have to do is say ‘Yes’ and all will unfold beautifully for you in ways you cannot imagine. You will find the words she needs to hear that will bring her hope, you will find resources she needs, you will find that holding her baby for the first time can be as thrilling as the day you first held your own, you will find that your prayer life will grow like never before and you will find that you can make a difference in the lives of others.” And don’t be surprised if one day, you will hear her call you her “Angel.”
Patsy Gonzalez counsels pregnant mothers at Juan Diego Society Women’s Center in San Jose, CA. She also volunteers as an “angel” for The Gabriel Project of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and has extensive experience in sidewalk counseling.