Notes from NH Pro-Life Seminar

Here are a few quick items from the New Hampshire Knights of Columbus 2019 Pro-Life Seminar, with a tip of my cap to Ron DiStasio and his organizational team.

St. Gianna’s Place

StGiannaBanquetThree years ago, a dedicated group of Granite Staters began raising money and planning for a southern New Hampshire shelter for pregnant women in need of housing and other services. Last month, volunteers worked to renovate the former St. John parish rectory in Hudson, which is being converted to St. Gianna’s Place. Next month, applications for the first two residents will be considered.

Dennis Pedley of the St. Gianna’s board gave us this long-awaited good news. He also reminded us about the benefit banquet for St. Gianna’s, coming up on May 1 at the Executive Court in Manchester. See stgiannasplace.org for more information.

40 Days for Life

Sheila and Lisa of Manchester 40DFL accepted signups for the last two weeks of the current campaign, with all who accept the 40DFL Statement of Peace welcome to participate. Need signs, prayer partners, or more information? Look up your local campaign at 40daysforlife.com.

40 Days for Life volunteer
Lisa of 40 Days for Life Manchester NH

East Africa Charitable Projects Fund

Nick Monroe, a Knight from Newport, is one of the leaders of this charitable fund, founded in New Hampshire in 2014. Working with partners in Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya, the fund supports educational, charitable, and faith-based projects. Learn more at  eacpf.wordpress.com.

CareNet of Manchester/Nashua Gets a New Name

CareNet has been serving Manchester and Nashua for many years. The ministry’s name is changing: Real Options is the new label, but it’s still a CareNet affiliate. The Manchester office is moving a block away from its longtime location on Bridge Street, to 25 Lowell Street.

Real Options CareNet newsletter

Save the dates for the Real Options Walks for Life: May 4 at Veteran’s Park in Manchester, and May 11 at Greeley Park in Nashua.

Our Place and “Love Prevails”

For more than 30 years, Karen Munsell has been the force behind Catholic Charities’s Our Place, providing help to pregnant and parenting teens and young adults. She reported that the program is going strong in Nashua and Manchester.

She also gave us news about a newly-published book by Jean Bosco Rutagengwa, “Love Prevails.” The author and his wife (who works at Our Place) are refugees from Rwanda, and the book is subtitled “One Couple’s Story of Faith and Survival in the Rwandan Genocide.” As Karen reminded us, “genocide is a life issue.” I’m looking forward to reading the book, published by Orbis and available on Amazon.

Etc.

This is only a sample of the people providing good information at the seminar. Make a calendar note to look for the 2020 edition next spring.

I got a few minutes of mic time – thank you, Ron – to promote a couple of projects: this blog (which turns seven this month; we need a party!), and something I’m doing with a colleague from Cornerstone Action, Concord 101, a two-hour introduction to New Hampshire government and how citizens can participate most effectively. That initiative will take me to about half a dozen towns over the next few weeks, and I’m looking forward to it.

 

A gentle reminder: support your local pregnancy aid center

Permit me to nudge aside some of the end-of-year charitable appeals in your inbox in favor of this: a reminder of some of the great agencies in New Hampshire that specialize in supporting women who are pregnant in challenging circumstances.

You’ll find pregnancy AND parenting support at these agencies, any of which would be very happy to receive your support as a donor or a volunteer.

This link offers contact information for every organization listed here. If you are aware of any updates, please let me know – thank you! Several of these agencies have Facebook pages with frequently-updated information about current needs.

Birthright has offices in Manchester, Derry, and Portsmouth.

CareNet has ten affiliates in New Hampshire.

Pennacook Pregnancy Center is just a block away from Planned Parenthood in Manchester.

New Generation in Greenland provides shelter for homeless pregnant and parenting women. In addition to having volunteer and donation opportunities for supporters, New Generation has its Second Generation Thrift Shoppe to provide an easy way for you to support the ministry.

Our Place, a ministry of New Hampshire Catholic Charities, supports young parents from pregnancy through the first three years of their child’s life.

When you look for local agencies that make a difference in the lives of New Hampshire families, be sure to keep these in mind.

Wanted: you!

Gifts collected at the 40DFL baby shower will go to four agencies in Greater Manchester.
Photo by Ellen Kolb

There’s a page on this blog under the “Links” tab that doesn’t get much traffic, but it’s too important to take down: “Crisis Pregnancy Resources in New Hampshire”. “Crisis” doesn’t really reflect the ongoing assistance these agencies provide long after a crisis point is passed. I might have to change that page title.

I know many of my readers already support these pro-life ministries. Others may be looking for new ways to get involved. This is for you.

I’ve heard from two of these agencies in recent weeks about volunteer and donation needs. Where can you help?

From Pennacook Pregnancy Center in Manchester, 603-206-5306: Their number-one need is volunteers who can commit to a three-hour shift one day per week. A minimum of 15 hours of in-house training is provided.  Pennacook Pregnancy Center will also  provide training for sidewalk counselors; contact the center for more information.

Also from Pennacook: “Diapers, wipes. baby clothes and accessories are always appreciated.” I’ll take the liberty of saying that’s true for every center listed on the resources page. 

From Birthright of Manchester’s latest newsletter: “As a new venture…individual parishes have been holding Diaper Drives for Birthright! These drives have proven to be very successful and defray the exorbitant cost of purchasing diapers.”

What do you say to a Mother’s Day flower sale? That’s a Birthright fundraiser. Look for volunteers outside your church on May 8. Want more information about setting up a sale at your own church? Go back to that Resources page and phone your nearest Birthright. Even if it’s late to plan for this year, Mother’s Day will be back next year – and so will Birthright.

Birthright of Manchester’s wish list is probably similar to what other pregnancy care centers are looking for: baby wipes & baby wash, crib sheets in neutral colors, receiving blankets, onesies, socks, sleepers, play outfits (Birthright Manchester is looking for sizes 3-9 months; clients at your nearest pregnancy care center might have different needs), disposable diapers (especially sizes 1-5), and new or gently used spring and summer clothing for children through size 3T.

For any center: can you answer phones? Sew, knit or crochet layette items? Do you have medical, legal or educational expertise that could benefit centers and the clients they serve? Would you like to learn what it takes to be a board member? Call a pro-life pregnancy care center near you and ask about volunteer opportunities.

When you contact a pro-life pregnancy care center, ask to be put on their email contact list and make sure you know if they have a Facebook page. Those are the best ways to stay abreast of urgent needs and scheduled fundraisers.

I’m haunted by something I was told by a pregnancy care center director recently: “kids aren’t being read to.” Books for pre-schoolers will not go to waste at a center that helps support young parents. Our Place (with three New Hampshire locations) has an annual project that’s dear to my heart, collecting children’s books late in the year for distribution to clients at the agency’s Christmas party.

No need to think that a donation has to be big to be helpful. A baby shower can be as simple as meeting a few friends for coffee, with each person bringing a baby item to be delivered to a pregnancy care center. Yes, I’ve done this. It’s simple, it’s local, and friends with coffee are involved. What’s not to like?

No one can do everything; everyone can do something. Thank you for all you do, now and always, to make it easier for people to choose life.


 

“My heart is with the woman who has had an abortion”

Karen Colageo speaks to 40DFL volunteers.
Karen Colageo speaks to 40DFL volunteers.

CareNet volunteer Karen Colageo was the featured speaker at the closing gathering for Manchester, New Hampshire’s 40 Days for Life winter campaign. She’s been a post-abortion counselor for more than a decade. “I’m here to speak about abortions, not ‘abortion.’ Specific events. Private, emotionally wrenching experiences. The stories you need to hear are the individual testimonies.” The abortions she experienced herself were an important factor in her eventual work. “My heart is with the woman who has had an abortion.”

Colageo is married to a local Lutheran pastor, and her post-abortion-counseling work includes use of a Bible study called “Forgiven and Set Free.” Does that put off some of the women she tries to reach? “It grieves me, really, when nonbelievers avoid the program because it’s a Bible study.” She described one such woman who gave the program a second look after she was unsatisfied with other attempts at post-abortion counseling.  “She came back to me and said ‘I’ve tried everything else; what have I got to lose?'”

Several years after having her abortions, she bore a child whose arrival nudged open a spiritual door. “I had a beautiful baby girl. Despite what I had done, God had entrusted me with a beautiful child, an unmerited gift.” Coming to terms with her earlier abortions was a gradual and difficult process, and Colageo is frank about the religious dimension to her healing as she realized she had taken the lives of her other children. Through her involvement in a church community, she learned about CareNet and sought counseling there, her first encounter with the “Forgiven and Set Free” program. “Finally, someone allowed me to grieve, and applied the healing words of the Gospel to my open wounds. We learned to pray with David [Psalm 51]: ‘a broken, contrite heart, O Lord, you will not despise.'”

She fully accepts the estimate that one in three women will have an abortion by age 45. “Be careful what you say. There are a lot of broken women out there. Condemnation does no good. Women must be saved as well as children. We cannot forget that.” She says about her work, “Women need to know their abortions can be forgiven. They can turn death into life. I’ve seen truly broken women come alive.”

The evening’s gathering also served as a baby shower for four area agencies serving pregnant women and young parents: Birthright, CareNet, the Pennacook Pregnancy Center, and Our Place.

The next 40 Days for Life campaign is scheduled to begin September 23.


 

 

Potluck Dinner for Manchester’s Pray for Life Center 11/15

Photo from prayforlifecenter.org
Photo from prayforlifecenter.org
[Update August 2015: the Pray for Life Center has closed.]

The Pray for Life Center across the street from Planned Parenthood’s Manchester office is not just a rented space. It’s a non-profit organization, and it relies on community support to stay open. The Center is hosting a potluck dinner on Saturday, November 15 at 5 p.m., with donations accepted for the Center’s ongoing work. Contact Cathy Kelly for more information: prayforlifecenter@gmail.com.

From the Center’s web site:

“The Pray for Life Center, located at 27 Pennacook Street, #1, Manchester, diagonally across from Planned Parenthood, is an IRS approved non-profit 501(c)(3) organization formed in direct response to the witnessing of lost innocent human life by abortion in Manchester. It is organized and operated to promote the sanctity of human life in the public square through prayer, education, and Christian charity to all, in the hope that through God’s endless mercy, hearts will turn toward life and the lives of the unborn will be spared…. PFLC is open all day on Thursdays (the day in which 20-30 lives are lost by surgical abortion at Planned Parenthood). For those who cannot walk in vigil outside Planned Parenthood, you are welcome to pray for the unborn, their parents, and the Planned Parenthood staff in our prayer room chapel.”

Learn more about the Pray for Life Center and the nearby Pennacook Pregnancy Center at www.prayforlifecenter.org.

 

Books for kids

Our Place is a program for pregnant and parenting teens, serving families in Nashua, Manchester and Rochester. While baby care items and clothing are always welcomed, they’ve put out a special request this month for books suitable for preschoolers. Board books and picture books, new or gently used, may be delivered to the Catholic Charities administration office at 215 Myrtle Street in Manchester.

Leaven for the Loaf readers who want to participate but can’t get to the Catholic Charities office can leave me a message on Leaven’s Facebook page. I can collect books within a limited area and then deliver them to Manchester.