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Mother Teresa Home provides needed support for mothers facing uncertainty

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The recent overturning of Roe v. Wade seems like a victory for the pro-life community. But instead of being a time to celebrate, it is a time to refocus attention on how best to serve women with unexpected pregnancies.

Cheryl Calire, director of the Office of Pastoral Ministries, which oversees the Mother Teresa Home, speaks about the murals painted on the outbuildings on the East Side campus.

The Mother Teresa Home opened doors to residents in 2016. The East Side building, formerly the rectory of St. Adalbert Parish, provides a safe and stable home for women who have experienced or been exposed to pressure in regards to their pregnancy. Over the past six years, the staff has seen over 60 women get educations, fight addictions, and learn the life skills needed to raise their children.

“Most of our moms we still mentor and keep in touch with,” said Cheryl Calire, executive director of the Office of Pastoral Ministries, which oversees the home. “I have one mom who has three children now. She finished her GED. She works for the school system. She works both a bus driver and as a bus aide. We have another mom who successfully completed college at UB. She is a dental hygienist. She looks back at her time here as really pivotal for her. She knows if she didn’t take that time to make a plan for herself, she wouldn’t have ended up being in that positive situation.”

Another mother who had addiction issues left the Mother Teresa Home early because she felt she was ready to move on. The average stay is six to 12 months. She soon realized she still needed the guidance and help provided by not only those who run the home, but the other mothers who have faced similar situations. As her bedroom was already filled, Calire and her team mentored this woman with home economic skills, class work and daycare. She is now two and a half years clean.

“She’s able to function is a way that she never thought she could,” Calire said.

Yet, another mother received help through the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Care Center, also a division of the Office of Pastoral Ministries, which provides clothes, diapers and playpens for needy families. After earning her master’s degree, she turned down an opportunity to be a border patrol officer to come and work at the Mother Teresa Home.

“We have a single mom who has been there, understands our program in and out, and is now working with us,” Calire said proudly.

The idea of creating the Mother Teresa Home came to Calire while in adoration, five years before it opened. She realized that, while she was actively protecting the unborn through a prayerful presence outside abortion clinics, she needed to do something for the children once they came into the world. She noticed the diocese had many unused rectories and convents that could be used for housing.

She and her husband, David, live on site, and with their staff help the residents with education programs and job experiences. Mothers are also connected to services, doctors and parenting classes.

“I know that it is through the grace of God that we even have the Mother Teresa Home, but that for whatever reason some of these women get put in our path, and that they’re open enough to bear their soul, make a plan – literally pen to paper – to figure out how can we make this better. How can we break this cycle? Just because I came from this doesn’t mean I have to go to that. We can make a difference,” Calire said.

The only common denominator in these women is that they are expecting and feel they have no support.

Cheryl Calire in the garden of Mother Teresa Home. (Photos by Patrick J. Buechi)

 “Whether they really don’t have support; their parents are deceased, they have no siblings, or perceived non-support; not wanting to ask for help,” Calire explained.

One of the first things they do when they formulate their plan is to find that much-needed support. This might mean reuniting with estranged family, or find people who they have a connection with that they’ve never thought about. One woman thought she had nobody, but realized she had Godparents she could call.

“Part of what we do here is to help them think on their feet and think for themselves. But sometimes we all needed to be prodded to think outside the box,” Calire said.

“We’ve had over 60 moms. We’ve had over 60 babies go through this program. It has a record of showing that if we do show the support, these moms can be successful and they can move on and we can break the cycle,” Calire said. “Will it solve all the problems we have in Buffalo and our eight counties? Absolutely not. But, we’re trying to set an example and start a wave where people can see, if we had more organizations like this, doing this kind of work, putting funds toward this type of operation – helping to find better housing, better childcare, time off from work, all of the issues where women really need support – they would be able to choose bringing life into the world.”

Although overturning Roe v. Wade will have little effect on New York state – Governor Kathy Hocul has vowed to keep abortion legal here – Calire asks that people support the pro-life cause by supporting organizations as well as legislature that provides a solid foundation for women and mothers.  

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