Steven and Liz Callen sat at their kitchen table with their son, Simon, in 2018. The Callens
received a grant from the Archbishop Robert J. Carlson Adoption Fund to help in their adoption.
Steven and Liz Callen sat at their kitchen table with their son, Simon, in 2018. The Callens received a grant from the Archbishop Robert J. Carlson Adoption Fund to help in their adoption.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

St. Louis has a vast wealth of resources to support pregnant women in choosing life for their babies

Catholic, other pro-life agencies are here to help women facing an unplanned pregnancy beyond the birth of their babies

For women facing an unplanned pregnancies in the St. Louis area, the number of resources is virtually endless. Here are some ways in which Catholic and other pro-life organizations are helping mothers choose life for their babies:

Catholic Charities

Catholic Charities of St. Louis is a federation of eight agencies that impact the lives of more than 103,500 people annually in 11 counties in the St. Louis metropolitan area. To learn more visit www.ccstl.org.

Good Shepherd Children and Family Services provides a host of services, including foster care and treatment foster care, adoption, expectant parent counseling, maternity shelter, pregnancy services and advocacy.

• Queen of Peace Center offers family-centered behavioral health care for women who are overcoming substance use disorders, and their children.

• St. Martha’s Hall provides a confidential, safe place for women who have been impacted by domestic violence, and their children.

• Marygrove provides treatment and support to young people struggling with emotional and behavioral issues, resulting from abuse, neglect and other traumatic experience.

• Saint Louis Counseling provides professional counseling to families and individuals, including offices throughout the St. Louis area, schools and places of employment.

• St. Francis Community Services focuses on legal aid, youth programs, bilingual mental health counseling, case management and more.

• St. Patrick Center helps people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The agency works with individuals and families to build permanent, positive change in their lives.

• Cardinal Ritter Senior Services provides residential, health care and supportive social services for senior adults, including foster grandparent program and support for seniors who are parenting grandchildren.

Respect Life Apostolate

Anne Stein carried her 5-month-old adopted son Andrew into his room for a nap.
Photo Credit: Sid Hastings
The archdiocesan Respect Life Apostolate offers several programs that provide pastoral and spiritual care for those who have experienced an abortion. Additionally, the apostolate publishes an options brochure with a guide to local resources for pregnant women, including resource centers and maternity homes, many of which provide food, clothing, financial assistance, counseling, shelter and job training. For more information on any of the apostolate’s resources and ministries, visit www.STLrespectlife.org or call (314) 792-7555.

The LifeLine Coalition is a group of Catholic social service agencies and pro-life caregivers committed to helping women experiencing crisis pregnancies through increasing awareness and availability of pregnancy assistance services, generating new revenue for caregivers and by expanding services to pregnant women. Contribute to the Lifeline Coalition online at www.bit.ly/2Q6HeFM. Checks should be made payable to LifeLine Coalition, Respect Life Apostolate, Mail Stop 34001, P.O. Box 953745, St. Louis, MO 63195-3745

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson established the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Fund in 2009. The fund relieves the burdens of expectant parents and parents who have recently given birth under challenging circumstances. Contribute to the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Fund at www.bit.ly/2Q5thI4. Checks should be made payable to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Fund, Respect Life Apostolate, Mail Stop 340012, P.O. Box 953745, St. Louis, MO 63195-3745.

Project Rachel and Project Joseph are ministries of the Respect Life Apostolate that offer healing and hope to women and men wounded by abortion. The ministries offer free, confidential professional counseling, spiritual support groups, retreats and spiritual direction and reconciliation. For more information on either group, call (314) 792-7565; or email stlprojectrachel@archstl.org for Project Rachel or prolife@archstl.org for Project Joseph.

The Order for the Naming and Commendation of an Infant Who Died Before Birth is a special rite that memorializes children who have died before birth, including miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion or accident. The rite, often carried out in the context of Mass, gives families the chance to name their child and commend the child to the loving care of God. For more information, contact Mary Varni at maryvarni@archstl.org.

St. Vincent de Paul Society

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul of St. Louis is an international Catholic lay organization that provides direct services, via home visits, to people in need, including pregnant women who are choosing life for their babies. Many of the society’s services are recognizable through the Corporal Works of Mercy, such as clothing, shelter, transportation and healing. To learn more about the society in St. Louis, visit svdpstlouis.org.

Deacon Diaper Drive

Barbara Riley received diapers from the St. Anthony food pantry. Every year, the permanent deacons of the archdiocese organize a diaper collection, with the bulk of the diapers collected at parishes going to food pantries nearby.
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
The permanent deacons of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, in conjunction with the Respect Life Apostolate, organize an annual archdiocesan-wide drive each spring to collect baby diapers for those in need. Diapers are collected at weekend Masses and are distributed by participating parishes to organizations including St. Vincent de Paul Society conferences, women’s shelters and crisis nurseries, for example.

More than 325,000 diapers were collected in this year’s campaign. With the average cost per diaper of 30 cents per diaper, the collection represents almost $100,000 that can instead be used toward food, heat, child care and transportation needs.

Knights of Columbus Meet Life campaign

The Meet Life campaign started in Missouri in 2011 with the goal of decreasing the number of abortions in the state through donated ultrasound machines to pregnancy resource centers.

The Knights in Missouri also contribute $100,000 annually to Vitae Foundation to conduct a digital marketing campaign, to help connect women with pregnancy centers in the state. Additional funding is given to diocesan respect life offices, including the archdiocesan Respect Life Apostolate, to support pro-life programs, as well as an annual grant to Birthright for operation expenses.

Even though the Meet Life campaign was initially promoted as a five-year effort, councils across the state continue to raise funds, Tesmer said. The program is now turning in a new direction, to continue support for pregnancy centers and maintaining the machines, which cost on average about $30,000-35,000 and have a lifespan of about seven to nine years. An endowment currently is in the works, intending to bring in approximately $200,000 a year. The Knights already have received a significant initial donation toward the endowment.

Birthright

Birthright is a nonprofit organization that provides support to women facing unplanned pregnancies. Many of the organization’s locations (the four in St. Louis and St. Charles) provide free professional counseling to women from the time of their pregnancy test for as long as they need after their baby is born. Other services include classes and workshops, fathers’ counseling, postpartum counseling, scholarships and financial assistance, help with transportation, and medical care assistance, and counseling for mothers expecting or who have delivered a child with special needs.

Birthright provides one-on-one accompaniment, often filling a gap when the woman doesn’t have a strong support network at home. The organization also works closely with other social service organizations and alternatives-to-abortion agencies to meet the mothers’ needs. Birthright does not receive government funding and relies on the help of the community.

Birthright St. Louis locations (birthrightstl.org): Brentwood (314) 962-5300; Central West End (314) 361-0124; Bridgeton (314) 298-0945; South County (314) 962-3653

Other area Birthright locations (birthright.org): Eureka (636) 938-4221; Hillsboro (636) 789-3518; Wentzville (birthrightofwentzville.com) (636) 327-8170; St. Charles (birthrightstcharles.org) (636) 724-1200

Room at the Inn

Sponsored by the Sisters of Divine Providence, the Room at the Inn provides 24-hour emergency shelter to women and families who are homeless. The organization serves up to 20 people daily, nearly 200 people each year, half of whom are children. In addition to food and shelter, Room at the Inn helps clients identify the underlying causes of their homelessness, regain self-sufficiency and avoid future episodes of homelessness. Clients stay at the organization’s central location in Bridgeton during the day. In the evening, they stay at one of numerous night sites at congregations throughout St. Louis County and St. Charles County. Room at the Inn also collaborates with more than 50 other human services agencies to provide services to help clients get back on their feet. For more information, visit www.roomstl.org.

Our Lady’s Inn

Sister Elsy Chencheril, a Salesian Missionary of Mary Immaculate, held a child at Our Lady’s Inn while his mother took classes.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston
Founded in 1982, Our Lady’s Inn has provided services to pregnant women and their children who are homeless. The nonprofit organization has provided shelter and support with securing education, stable housing and employment to more than 6,000 women who have chosen life for their unborn babies. The organization has locations in south St. Louis and St. Charles. Also, the Twice Blessed Resale Shop serves as a social enterprise, providing job experience and training for residents, and as a funding source for Our Lady’s Inn. For more information, visit www.ourladysinn.org.

WISH Center

The WISH (Women and Infant Substance Help) Center at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis provides comprehensive, high-risk maternity care for women who are dependent on opioids and other drugs. It is the only facility of its kind in the St. Louis region. It extends care for new moms after the baby is born when the risk of relapse is the greatest. The WISH Center works with outside organizations, many of them Catholic agencies, to help with job skills, housing, life skills and parenting to help moms maintain sobriety. For more information, visit www.ssmhealth.com/locations/location-details/wish-center.

Sweet Babies

Based at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond Heights, Sweet Babies provides clothing and other necessities to families with newborns who are leaving the hospital. The organization was founded in 2010 by longtime hospital volunteer Alice Provaznik, who saw a need after she learned that nurses were buying gently used baby clothing to give to new mothers as they left the hospital with their babies. To learn more, visit www.sweetbabies.org.

Thrive St. Louis

With three locations and a mobile medical fleet, Thrive St. Louis offers a variety of services for women including pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, parenting and life-skills classes, as well as referrals for housing, medical care, counseling, utility assistance, food and more. See thrivestlouis.org.

Defenders of the Unborn

As part of its work to educate others about the evils of abortion, Defenders of the Unborn offers help to mothers in crisis pregnancies, including help with rent and utilities, transportation to medical providers, baby and maternity clothing, bedding, and other items, and financial support for adoptions, among other services. See stl-defenders.com.

Coalition for Life

The nonprofit organization recently launched Women’s Care Connect, which follows up with abortion-minded women to provide them with comprehensive services geared toward their needs. Trained staff provide life coaching and connect them to other agencies to provide the help they need. To learn more, see www.coalitionforlifestl.org.

Tax credit programs

The state of Missouri offers tax credit programs for individuals who donate to a participating pregnancy resource center or maternity home. There are 72 recognized pregnancy resource centers and 17 maternity homes statewide. To learn more about the tax credit program for pregnancy resource centers, see dss.mo.gov/dfas/taxcredit/pregnancy.htm; and for maternity homes, dss.mo.gov/dfas/taxcredit/maternity.htm

Alternatives to abortion funding

Midtown Community Services, an independent nonprofit organization on the campus of St. Cronan Parish, is among a long list of agencies that receives funding from the state’s Alternatives to Abortion program. The program helps women carry their unborn child to term instead of having an abortion. Missouri lawmakers recently allocated $6.46 million for the upcoming fiscal year. To learn more about the program and participating agencies, see dss.mo.gov/fsd/a2a/.

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