ESCONDIDO — St. Mary Parish has stepped up its efforts to accompany an often invisible group, impoverished pregnant women. Its volunteers donate diapers and baby clothes to them, and they pray a virtual rosary every Friday to ask God to bless them and to sustain them.
St. Mary has joined a national, bilingual campaign called “Walking with Moms in Need,” organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The San Diego Diocese planned to launch the year-long effort locally last spring but delayed its start due to the pandemic.
The diocese’s Office for Life, Peace and Justice is promoting the campaign, which invites parishes to welcome needy pregnant women, inform them about reliable health and social resources available in their communities, and to accompany them on their journey to motherhood.
The diocese launched the campaign with a special bilingual Mass on Aug. 15 at St. Mary’s, celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Ramón Bejarano on the Feast of the Assumption. The morning Mass was held in the field of the parish school, where several hundred faithful gathered under 100-plus-degree sun.
In his homily, Bishop Bejarano reflected on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s three-month visit with her cousin Elizabeth as both women were expecting a child.
“Just like Mary accompanied and helped her cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant, our bishops ask us to be that helping community, especially [to] mothers who need help,” the bishop said.
“We know that a pregnancy is a blessing but we also know that there are women who may be enduring difficult times,” he continued.
“Some of them because they are going to be single mothers. Some of thembecause they live in poverty. Some of them may be at that moment confused, without their family’s support and may not know what to do.
“The bishops are asking us to be, as Church, like Mary, to help these women, to let them know that we stand with them. So that they can enjoy the gift that the Lord has given them, which is to give the gift of life.”
María de Lourdes Valencia, associate director of the Office for Life, Peace and Justice, invites all faithful to work with their parish priest to join the campaign and to develop ways to help needy pregnant women in their community.
She noted that there are 18 centers across San Diego and Imperial counties that offer health and social services for pregnant women confidentially, at affordable prices or for free.
All of them are oriented to affirming life.
Valencia spoke in English and Spanish at the Mass. At the end of her remarks, she directed her words to any woman facing a pregnancy at a difficult time.
“We’re here for you. You are not alone.”
To reach the diocese’s Office for Life, Peace and Justice, which is coordinating the “Walking with Moms in Need” campaign, you can text 84576 or call (858) 490-8323.