October 18, 2016 // Uncategorized

My Year of Mercy: Where doubt becomes hope

By Andrew Mentock

Sister Virginia Joy, a member of the Sisters of Life, sits in a cubicle as she speaks with a woman on the phone May 4 at the religious community’s Visitation Mission on New York’s East Side. Members of the religious community offer emotional and spiritual support to pregnant women in crisis through in-person and over-the-phone counseling.

Counseling the doubtful is one of the most difficult spiritual works of mercy to comprehend. However, in today’s society, it is also one of the most relevant. Everyday, people are turning away from God as they disrespect the dignity of the human being and condone the destruction of innocent lives.

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops “everyone has moments of doubt in their faith journey. Nevertheless, we should always remember that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and turn to him along our way.”

Some advice from the USCCB to help one adhere to this is to “orient your response to Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” and to “follow Christ with the witness of your life so that others may see God’s love revealed in your actions.”

An exemplary instance of this takes place at Women’s Care Center locations.

“This is where our center comes in,” said Jenny Hunsberger, vice-president of the South Bend/Mishawaka/Plymouth Women’s Care Center. “With our medical-grade pregnancy tests and ultrasounds, our counselor is often the first person to know for sure a woman is pregnant. And with gentleness and compassion, our counselor not only gives a young woman the facts, but gives something far more valuable: Hope.”

This knowledge and hope helps to provide women with the perspective to choose life, as opposed to a narrow-minded view from loneliness, which typically results in the belief that they have limited and often-destructive options.

Over the previous 12 months, 10,681 babies were saved thanks to the Women’s Care Center — 4,235 of them in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

For all of the work the Women’s Care Center has accomplished, the staff credits their local community with much of the success — knowing that family and friends are often an integral part of the support system for pregnant women.

“Locally, 57 percent of our abortion-minded clients come to Women’s Care Center because they were referred by a friend,” said Hunsberger, “They know that we offer concrete help without judgment. Our counselors offer a safe place to talk about your doubts and fears. It is essentially a place where fear and doubt is transformed into joyful hope.”

Nevertheless, the Women’s Care Center knows that a community’s ability to help them counsel the doubtful goes much deeper than referrals.

“It is community support that keeps our doors open to serve 364 women every day,” said Hunsberger. “From 8-year-olds who ask friends to bring diapers instead of birthday gifts, to high school students who babysit for parenting classes, to sustaining partners who make major financial gifts, the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocesan community celebrates life through Women’s Care Center.”


Food for thought

In a May 2015 blog post for the Archdiocese of Washington, Msgr. Charles Pope writes that counseling the doubtful, as a spiritual work of mercy, is not concerned with “mere expedience,” but it’s about helping someone with “what is moral, upright and holy.”

He said that “it is that work which helps the undecided … come to a good and upright decision rooted in the call to holiness and the goal of attaining heaven by God’s grace.”

It is helpful, he says, for the person doing to counseling to be “prayerful and attentive and docile to divine teaching.” And in that sense what Christians are called to do, to live an existence of “prayer, study and life experiences” is “not only for our own sake, but for that of others as well.”

When we, as Christians, decide to help a person who needs counsel, it is a gift to them but also to the one who does the counseling, says Msgr. Pope.

We help others, but we also help ourselves, he says “to become more deeply rooted in the decision to follow Jesus, to choose the Lord and the things awaiting in heaven, to leave behind double-minded ways and duplicity, to decide for what is right, good, noble and holy.”

— Catholic News Service


* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.