Pregnant? Need Help? Arlington’s Gabriel “Angels” Have You Covered

This week – and throughout the month of October – we celebrate Respect Life Month. We showcase how, as a diocesan family, we joyfully embrace and deeply respect each life from conception until natural death.

By: Erin Healy

GP sign large size

In 1973 the pastor of Saint Michael Parish in Houston put a sign outside his church which conveyed the parish’s commitment to provide immediate practical help to mothers with unplanned pregnancies who come to them for aid. That was the seed of The Gabriel Project. It has since spread throughout the country and on Mother’s Day in 2002,  Gabriel Project was founded in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington.

The mission of Gabriel Project in the Diocese of Arlington is to help pregnant women with long or short-term needs by offering assistance at the parish level. It involves a network of churches, crisis pregnancy centers and other agencies working together to assist the mother with physical, material, spiritual, and emotional support with the help of a community which responds in a loving, unconditional and nonjudgmental manner to the mother, witnessing to the infinite and healing love of God.

Gabriel Project volunteers, or as we call them – “Angels” – accompany expectant mothers in their area by offering encouragement and making them feel more connected in the local community and the life of the parish. Currently, 24 parishes in the Diocese of Arlington are a part of the Gabriel Project network, and, in the last year alone, assisted over 500 women in need.

Below, Gabriel “Angels” share how they became involved with Gabriel Project, what they’ve learned from the women they serve and how their involvement has deepened their faith and strengthened their own family life.

1

How and why did you become involved with Gabriel Project? What is it about this ministry attracted you?

After having my first baby (18 years ago), I became involved with a pregnancy hotline and other pro-life groups. I like talking with pregnant moms and rejoicing with them over the treasure growing inside them. Our parish advertised that a Gabriel Project leader was needed, so I volunteered.
– Beth, Saint Raymond, Springfield

I believe the Holy Spirit guided me to Gabriel Project due to my past issues with infertility. Since then, I have received the amazing gift from God of my daughter in 2012. I enjoy helping pregnant mothers understand how precious the gift of new life is to us as a culture.
– Angie, Holy Trinity, Gainesville

gp mom baby showerGabriel “Angel” (left) with Gabriel mother at a recent baby shower hosted by Saint Mary of Sorrows.

2

How has your faith deepened or grown because of your involvement with Gabriel Project?

It is very easy to see Christ in the women we serve, many of whom are not Catholic. They are so grateful for the friendship and love of their “Angel” and it is a gift to know that our very small acts of kindness can have long lasting impact on their lives. Our volunteers and their prayers for our expectant mothers and babies are the most important tools of this ministry.
– Barbara, Saint Mary, Alexandria

I have seen how my simple prayers for these mothers have been unexpectedly and beautifully answered. God can do so much more for them than I can through my own powers.
– Charlotte, Saint John the Apostle, Leesburg

My faith has been strengthened by my Gabriel Project relationships, in getting to know other faithful and charitable women with the same ministry goal, and in opening my heart, thoughts and prayers to others in need.
– Angie, Holy Trinity, Gainesville

3

What surprises you the most about the mothers and families that you work with? What impresses you?

They know how to make the most out of a difficult situation and how to make things work out for the best, doing the best they can.
– Beth, Saint Raymond, Springfield

The joy and confidence they [Gabriel mothers] have even in difficult circumstances.
– Charlotte, Saint John the Apostle, Leesburg

I am surprised at how amazingly universal the Catholic faith is, and how Christians have such a strong common bond when faith is engaged, prayers and blessings are sent. The mother and family that I have been working are from Pakistan and have sought asylum in the United States to escape religious persecution. They are so sincere, compassionate, loving, kind, thankful, reverent, joyful and pious despite difficult times. I enjoy every visit with them and we have become good friends. They make me a better person, us a better family, and the more I get to know them, the more I want to help them to ensure they feel welcome here and a part of our Church.
– Angie, Holy Trinity, Gainesville

4

How has working with Gabriel mothers and their families influenced or positively affected your own family life?

Just as my mother and mother-in-law inspired me to engage in pro-life work, I know that the Gabriel Project has been a family effort, and our three grown daughters have also been inspired by the work of Gabriel Project.
-Barbara, Saint Mary, Alexandria

My kids were able to meet and play with the children of one of the moms I worked with, and I hope it also inspires them to help others.
– Beth, Saint Raymond, Springfield

Working with this family [and Gabriel mother] has positively affected my own family life. Together we pray for this family, cook for this family and give as much as we can to this family to help them through difficult times. We are more thoughtful of them and others in need and have become more considerate of our own frivolous expenses. Their love, thankfulness, and prayers for us strengthen us.
– Angie, Holy Trinity, Gainesville

gpGabriel “Angel” (left) with Gabriel mother and her newborn son.

5

Describe a moment or experience with a Gabriel mother and her family that has made a lasting impression on you.

I was an Angel to a mother who was expecting and had a 7-year-old son. She was in a shelter, but thankfully is in an apartment now with her two sons. She is a good mother. Her older son is a testament to her motherly devotion. He is a delight! He is a good brother to the new baby. (The baby was born on my birthday, and I will visit him with a gift for his first birthday!)
– Barbara, Saint Mary, Alexandria

The mother I was working with had severe back pain, but was always so generous, charitable, and patient with her kids.
– Beth, Saint Raymond, Springfield

A mother I was helping gave birth to two daughters. I began praying that she and the girls’ father, her boyfriend, would get married, but she and I had never discussed this. When I was invited to her older girl’s birthday party, she surprised me with the news that they had been married. I told her I had been praying for that. She was thrilled!
– Charlotte, Saint John the Apostle, Leesburg

Learn more about Gift for Life and how you can support Gabriel Project in the Diocese of Arlington. Know a pregnant mom in need of assistance? Click here for more information about resources and assistance provided in the Diocese of Arlington.

Follow @Bishop_Loverde on Twitter

Follow the Catholic Diocese of Arlington on our platforms:

DiocesanLogoMiniFacebookMiniLogoTwitter Mini LogoYoutube Mini LogoInstagram Mini Logo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s