PHOENIX — On a sunny October weekend, the Diocese of Phoenix held its first LOVE > FEAR Conference, a Walking with Moms in Need formation event. Over a hundred enthusiastic parish leaders and volunteers brought their teams to pray and be formed for the mission of accompanying pregnant and parenting moms in need in a post-Roe world.
Attendees ranged from employed parish staff to respect life coordinators to volunteers who simply resonated with the spirit of service called for by Archbishops Naumann and Lori of the USCCB and enthusiastically promoted by Bishop Dolan of the Diocese of Phoenix.
“I could not be more pleased with the quality and determination of the leaders who spent two full days immersing in the beauty and challenge of this call to be pro-life in our time,” said Mike Phelan, director of marriage and respect life. “We simply have to trust in Jesus, our Lord of life, that He will provide all we need. And then we must just begin.”
Prayer and relationship with Christ was thematic and primary in the conference, with the first day led by the Sisters of Life. This day focused on the charism, spirituality, and particular needs called for when encountering pregnant and parenting mothers. The sisters focused on the encounter, on delighting in the woman seeking assistance, and on the power of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in preparing hearts to encounter those in need. Attendees learned how to truly, actively listen and help a mother unpack her often jumbled emotions and concerns. A beautiful day!
On day two, a core team of seven parish leaders who have already been implementing the Walking with Moms In Need program in their parishes provided encouragement, practical guidance, and clarity on the effort. A distinction between “levels of engagement” as parishes get started was particularly helpful. Level one involves training employees on local resources and how to help on the phone. Level two readies a core team to take messages for the parish and engage directly with moms. Level three, a fully engaged team, includes training parish companions among the laity and providing direct service by helping moms access the resources and encouragement they need.
One parish, St. Theresa’s of Phoenix, which has assisted 39 moms—mostly parenting mothers—since launching in January 2022, helped lead sessions in assessing, preparing, and implementing WWM as a core team at the parish.
“You are not the resource,” emphasized Cindy Ketcherside, one of the WWM coordinators at the parish. “You are a companion on the way to the help needed.”
Nick Gaudio, state pro-life director for the Knights of Columbus and WWM coordinator at Our Lady of Joy parish, developed a full database of the many resources available to help a mom in need. Displaying this database gave great confidence and education to those attending. He and other leaders shared several remarkable stories about the ways God led them to a mom in need.
In the spring of 2023, a Spanish-language WWM conference will be held, led by respect life coordinator Marina Salvador-Velazquez and her core team.
“We look forward to tapping into the generous hearts of the Spanish-speaking community in our diocese and networking to help mothers in danger of abortion, homelessness, and discouragement. Love is truly greater than fear, but we as Catholics must lead the way. This post-Roe moment is calling the Church to heroic acts of truth in love.”