Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Words from Fr Ed (From March 27th, 2011 Bulletin)

Gabriel Project Begins! 
After much preparation the Gabriel Project is up and running here at St. Stephen's and around the Archdiocese. You can see our new sign on SE 192nd St inviting women in crisis pregnancies to call the toll-free line, 1-888-926-ANGEL. Once they call, they will be linked with an ‘angel’, a volunteer who comes alongside the woman in distress as a mentor and support. The angel will help the woman with encouragement and resources, both material and spiritual. This angel represents the whole parish, who in turn support the woman and the angel, as stated in the Gabriel Project Manual:
The parish community responds with love by providing spiritual, emotional, and material support to help meet those needs. Through prayer and action the parish community assures Mom that she has their love and the love of Christ.
If a Mom has been abandoned by family or her child’s father,
the parish community can lovingly help her overcome her sense of loss and loneliness.

As Christians our attitude needs to be one of mercy. This does not deny the reality that often our own behavior is the cause of chaos in our lives. But the bottom line for each one of us is God’s Infinite Mercy. He has forgiven all of us. Without His grace and mercy we would not be at St. Stephen's living in His Presence. See how Christ meets the woman at the well in this weekend’s Gospel. He begins by break-ing through a cultural barrier when He asks her for a drink. (John 4:7) She is shocked because “Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans”. (v. 9) Jews would consider it a defilement to use the same cup or ladle as a Samaritan. Samaritans were considered unclean traitors who had soiled their Jewish blood by intermarrying with the gentiles of the local area.

By inviting women in distressing pregnancies to seek our support, we too are crossing barriers, either economically, intellectually, emotionally, or spiritually. A woman experiencing a pregnancy that is unplanned and even unwanted is often trapped by fear and shame. It takes great courage to admit one’s need to another, even a stranger. But the desperation that would drive a woman to abort her child is also a measure of what little it may take to save her from this seeming dilemma.

I was recently at the Cedar River abortion mill (I can’t call it a medical clinic) in downtown Renton. A man who had dropped off his wife at the place was approached by one of our praying parishioners, who finding him willing to talk called me over to his van. He was a Christian and willing to encourage his wife to keep the child. I offered him lunch, saying that the abortionist would surely be here tomorrow, but today I would like to buy his wife and him some lunch, and to talk about their situation. He called her on his cell phone and she soon came out of the mill, willing to talk with us. We sat down at Pizza Hut and found out what was driving her to make this choice.

This woman quickly identified that they needed marriage counseling, not an abortion. We gave them several resources and I have since learned that they kept the child. In telling this story, another parishioner remarked, “So for the price of a pizza, a life was saved.” Too true. A small sacrifice of time and effort with enormous, life-changing, earth-shattering results. The price of a child. What is it?

I want to thank Cecilia Foster and all those parishioners who have helped get Gabriel off the ground here at St. Stephen's. It is also blossoming elsewhere - Sequim, Bremerton, Shoreline, Tacoma, and Everett to name a few - as a wonderful sign of God’s providence. Angels and phone intake operators are still needed, along with other forms of support. The promise first made by a priest and his parishioners in Houston, Texas which began Gabriel Project several years ago can be ours:

We, the members of this church community, see in the birth of each baby a fresh expression of God's unfailing love. For the love of God and each and every one of His children, we offer immediate and practical help to any woman faced with a crisis preganancy.

This principle does not stop with the unborn, nor their mothers, but really ought to leaven all of our relationships, so that all who encounter members of St. Stephen's encounter Christ Himself. This is His mission and ours. I hope you will join me in welcoming Gabriel Project to our parish along with all who seek assistance here.

For more information on Gabriel, you can see the Archdiocesan Website at: or contact our parish coordinator, Cecilia Foster, at

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