Honors Most Reverend John M. D’Arcy
By Kay Cozad
FORT WAYNE — “We ask for grace upon this center and on all who work here, volunteer here and who come here for help,” said Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades at the May 24 dedication and blessing of the newest addition to the list of area Women’s Care Centers (WCC) — the Most Reverend John M. D’Arcy Women’s Care Center. Located at 921 Coliseum Blvd., directly across from an area abortion clinic, the facility has been named for Bishop D’Arcy after receiving a generous gift from Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) in his name. The amount of $100,000, one of two monetary retirement gifts Bishop D’Arcy received from OSV for his favorite charities, was used to equip the new care center.
Bobby Williams, director of development for the Women’s Care Centers, began the dedication ceremony with introductions and gratitude to all who support the center. After an eloquent history of the Women’s Care Center, Williams presented Bishop D’Arcy with a large plaque that will identify the building in his name. “Bishop D’Arcy has been a good shepherd, walking with us ever step of the way,” said Williams.
Bishop Rhoades then took the floor to invoke prayer from those gathered as they reflected on a reading from Ephesians read by Rev. Ron Francis, pastor emeritus of St. Paul Lutheran Church in New Haven, who continues to be active in the pro-life movement.
Ann Koehl, Allen county director of the Women’s Care Center, offered the responsorial psalm, after which Bishop D’Arcy addressed the crowd of over 100 supporters.
“One of the blessings is the work God has done here. There is warmth and understanding — women talking to women,” said Bishop D’Arcy. He added that he was proud to be associated with the Women’s Care Center and to have one named in his honor. “If you have to have something named after you, this is what to have,” he said.
Following a prayer of blessing, Bishop Rhoades sprinkled holy water in each room of the center, which was formerly a sporting goods store owned by the Freeman family, many of whom were present. The dedication was closed when Bishop Rhoades led the crowd in invoking a blessing from the Blessed Mother on all the women and babies that would come to the center by singing the traditional Marian hymn “Immaculate Mary.”
Ann Koehl reported that the center has had 2,000 visits since it’s opening in December of this year, 22 of which were “wrong door” visits, where the visitor thought she was entering the abortion clinic. “The increased visibility at this location makes it a very viable spot for women in the area in need of our services,” she says.
Koehl says she is honored to have the facility named for Bishop-emeritus John M. D’Arcy, “Our Sunday Visitor gave us a wonderful gift in honor and to credit Bishop D’Arcy. He has been a support since day one … since he heard that Women’s Care Center was coming here he’s been working full-time for us.”
The Women’s Care Center offers several free services to pregnant women and new mothers from 15 northern Indiana, southwestern Michigan and central Ohio. The Most Reverend John M. D’Arcy Women’s Care Center is the third center in Allen county, offering pregnancy and other services along with facilities at 823 Webster St. and 2112 Inwood Dr. Nine of 13 WCC staff members float between the three centers where each offers a counselor and a registered nurse who performs ultrasounds for expectant mothers.
Last year 14,205 women made 68,555 visits to care centers for services that included free pregnancy testing, crisis pregnancy advocacy and post-abortion care. The centers also provide maternity clothes, baby clothes and supplies, and referrals to various community agencies. The Crib Club supplies are supported and managed by the Christ Child Society. Free school abstinence programs and parenting classes are also available through the centers.
Of the dedication ceremony Koehl said, “I’m so honored to be part of this ministry and so grateful that both bishops could be with us tonight for the blessing.”
Of the center Bishop Rhoades said, “I think the mission and ministry that takes place here and at other centers is incredible. I am immensely grateful to all who have supported the center … and for the support of Bishop D’Arcy. It is so appropriate that the center is named for him, who is such a good shepherd proclaiming the Gospel of life.”
“This is the culture of life,” added Bishop D’Arcy. “It is a blessing to be part of it.”
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