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Bishop Fisher Pro-Life

Banquet takes some of the worry away from unexpected pregnancy

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What started in a small room at the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s central office in 2009 has grown to a ministry that covers four counties and serves more than 1,700 families a year. The Gianna Molla Outreach Pregnancy Center serves families by providing material, emotional and spiritual support to mothers, fathers and families in need during and after pregnancy. 

On April 28, the Office of Pastoral Ministries held the 11th annual benefit banquet for the outreach center.

Guest speaker Gary Zimak speaks with a few guests at the close of the 11th annual banquet for the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Center. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

“It is because of your support we are able to work with all the moms and the babies that we do,” said Cheryl Calire, executive director for the office of Pastoral Ministries. “All of the life issues are important to our pastoral ministry, without a doubt. But, this is one that is extremely important.”

“When we opened up this little room at St. Vincent de Paul we thought we were all that and a bag of chips. We served 200 families and we thought that was something else. It came to me that, if there are these kinds of numbers out there, imagine what we could do if we could spread our reach. Which is why we decided to turn it from a room into an outreach center,” Calire said, explaining the expansion of the center over the years.

Now, 13 years later, by coordinating with other area outreach centers and ministries, the Gianna Molla name is now on five centers in Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties. Two more centers are planned to open soon.

“Things are going to be exciting in the future. St. Gianna really put her hand on this,” Calire said.

While worrying during Lent, Calire found Gary Zimak, author of several books on worry and fear. It seemed appropriate to have him serve as guest speaker as most women dealing with unplanned pregnancies develop high levels of fear and anxiety. 

“Women who are considering terminating their pregnancy are worried. They’re scared. They feel abandoned. They feel alone. I can tell you from our Project Rachel Ministry. No one ever comes to us post-abortive who said, ‘I made the choice because it was something I wanted to do.’ They always say they made the choice because they felt they didn’t have one,” Calire said. “We need to bring that level of worry down. We need to bring that level to a place where they can find comfort.”

Zimak spoke on the two obstacles to happiness and holiness. Based on what Jesus reveled to St. Faustina, the two greatest obstacles to holiness are discouragement and exaggerated anxiety. He defines holiness and following the will of God.

“Every time a child is conceived in the womb of a mother, it is God’s will that that child not be aborted,” he said. “The two greatest obstacles to that child being born alive is discouragement and anxiety or fear.”

Deacon Steve Schumer, president and CEO of Catholic Charities of Buffalo, speaks to Sister Mary McCarrick, who served as president of Catholic Charities from 2011-2018. They were among the 200 guests at the 11th annual St. Gianna Banquet. (Photo by Patrick J. Buechi)

There are times when fear is rational. Zimak spoke of a car accident he witnessed on the way to Buffalo. But, one should never fear that God will not provide.

In Mark 4:35-41, when Jesus and his Apostles sail across the Sea of Galilee, they come across a storm. When the waters became rough, they wake Jesus out of a comfortable sleep and question why he doesn’t care that they may perish. Jesus gets up and calms the storm. He then asks, “Why are you still afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

“The more you choose to trust in Jesus, the more your confidence in him grows and the more peace you will feel,” Zimak said.

“A woman who just found out she was pregnant, doesn’t know what to do in a crisis pregnancy, she’s going to be afraid. She needs you support. She needs the support of Cheryl and her staff, of everyone who is working to save the life of that baby,” Zimak told the audience.

The event drew over 200 people, mostly with ties to pro-life ministries.

“I knew a little about the Gianna Molla Center, but I can’t believe all the ministry that they do,” said Bernadette Trinca. “I’m very excited that they’re (supportive of) women. A lot of times when we say we don’t want any more abortions, we want to help the women because they are afraid. What they do here is unbelievable.”

“I’m really excited by the fact that the Catholic Church has remained faithful in its pro-life movement,” said Nancy Kitchen. “Cheryl has done a wonderful job. We met a long time ago and we continue to have a good relationship. I had been involved with the Spring of Life many, many years ago as a Protestant. I don’t know where all of us went, but you guys stayed here and I appreciate it.”

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