A priest blesses a Texas couple during the third annual Infertility Prayer Service (photo from Sarah’s Hope & Abraham’s Promise Facebook page)

Couples grappling with infertility and pregnancy loss can find spiritual support from an organization rooted in Catholic theology.

The Austin-based healing ministry, Sarah’s Hope and Abraham’s Promise, integrates medicine with Church teachings to provide support, education and retreats throughout the year.

“The Church actually condones more treatments than it rejects,” said G. Gloria Long, SHAP volunteer. “The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have a simple rule with regard to fertility treatments: anything that helps marital intercourse be more effective is considered moral, and anything that inserts a third party into the act of conception or replaces intercourse is not.”

Integrates medicine with Church teachings to provide support, education and retreats throughout the year for couples grappling with infertility and pregnancy loss.

When: Second Monday of each month

Where: Diocesan Pastoral Center,
400 E. Monroe St.

Info or to become a prayer partner:
National: SHAP Ministry on Facebook

The local chapter meets at the Diocesan Pastoral Center on the second Monday of each month.

Long and another SHAP volunteer, Carrie Davis, will provide both women and men support groups that incorporate education and healing.

“Often times you feel isolated and alone in the journey and having an organization that is Christ-centered with people traveling the same road is an awesome opportunity,” said Joe Mikitish. “They’re difficult issues to talk about with people, even with people who are close.”

Joe and his wife Jennifer shared their story of suffering three miscarriages their first year of marriage to bring understanding and unity to others.

“It was a traumatic experience for us and we felt the loss very deeply,” Joe said. “There was a sense of confusion, doubt and uncertainty of what God’s will was for us as a family.”

Both Long and Davis acknowledge that the pain associated with the struggle to conceive is grief similar to losing a loved one.

“It’s unique because it’s a reoccurring grief. Each month there is hope, then the bad news comes again and the grief washes over us,” Long said. “Keeping the faith and trust in God can be difficult after years have passed, and this is why this group is really important — to lift each other up when we start to fall.”

As a parttime employee at Morning Star OB/GYN and an NFP instructor, Davis knows the care women are in need of and the intimate, loving support they crave.

“This group will help us to remember that Our Lord gives us opportunities to be life-giving through our marriage in so many ways,” Davis said, adding, “and that sacrifice is also life-giving through the redemption to unite our suffering with Christ.

“I hope this group will help us make that more present in our lives so we can see that fruitfulness in more tangible ways, and that way we’re not just seeing the lack of completion of a desire in our lives, but seeing it fulfilled in different ways.”

While a very personal decision, one of those ways is adoption.

Joe and Jennifer opened their hearts and home to five children through adoption in the eight-and-a-half years they’ve been married.

“Our faith, our Church, our God calls us to be open to Him and this is the avenue we found … to experience life in its abundance,” Joe said. “We opened another door and that is the door that brought kids home to stay.”