Embrace Grace: A Pro-LOVE Movement for Single and Pregnant Women

1017embracegrace1

by Kelly Phelan Powell

Amy Ford grew up in a happy, loving, church-going, Christian home. She knew abortion was wrong; she had even prayed with other believers outside abortion clinics. But when she found herself pregnant and unmarried at the age of 19, it suddenly became a very real and tempting possibility. “I know it was the enemy,” she says now. Too ashamed and afraid to face their families, she and her boyfriend decided the best way out of the trouble they were in was an abortion.

At the abortion facility, a nurse performed a sonogram in which Ford discovered she was farther along in her pregnancy than she thought she was. Having hoped she could simply “take a pill” and “make everything go away,” she was horrified to learn that a surgical abortion would be her only option. Hysterical and hyperventilating, she fainted. When she came to, she was surrounded by nurses. In a miraculous moment, something occurred that any woman who has ever visited an abortion facility will attest is not at all typical: One of the nurses told her she was clearly too distraught to make a decision that day and to go home and reschedule her appointment for an abortion. “She was an angel of a nurse,” Ford says. She and her boyfriend finally worked up the courage to tell their parents, who were understandably disappointed but supportive. The two married and now have four children. The baby who was almost aborted is now a 19-year-old young man, the same age his mother was when she nearly made a deathly tragic mistake. “I really feel like all of our kids are called to an amazing destiny in life,” she says.

Ford certainly is. Her experiences with unplanned pregnancy led her to co-found Embrace Grace, a national program for single and pregnant women. Their mission is “to inspire and equip the church to love on single and pregnant young women and their families.” With Bishop Michael Duca’s permission, Embrace Grace came to the Diocese of Shreveport in 2015. Director L’Anne Sciba explained that Mary’s House Pregnancy Care Center at 906 Margaret Place in Shreveport (a block away from the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans) holds the program twice per year. Each program is 12 weeks long, or a “semester,” with the first 10 weeks focusing on basic Christian principles and encouraging the women to share life-giving fellowship through prayer, activities and crafts. In the 11th week, volunteers celebrate the mothers-to-be with a baby shower where they can invite family and friends. Week 12 includes a Special Event Day. Currently, there are three women enrolled in Embrace Grace, which is in its third semester.

This year’s Embrace Grace baby shower is taking place at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, October 22, at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans Parish Hall. Like all showers, it hopes to furnish the new mothers with the items they will need to care for a newborn, but more importantly, it demonstrates to the women that the Body of Christ accepts them, loves them and celebrates them and their babies. “We would like as many ladies as possible to attend the shower,” Sciba said. “Gifts are really nice, but when complete strangers show up to attend a shower for your baby, it changes hearts and fills them up with God’s love.” If anyone is interested in bringing a gift or participating in upcoming showers, email L’Anne Sciba at maryshouse.sport@gmail.com or call (318) 220-8009.

Expectant mothers generally learn about Embrace Grace and Mary’s House online or through church members reaching out to women who are single and pregnant. Mary’s House invites every woman who visits to join an Embrace Grace group either there or at one of the other three groups in the Shreveport-Bossier area. In addition to addressing women’s spiritual needs, Mary’s House also offers free and confidential pregnancy testing (including Pregnancy Verification in order to receive medical care and other social services), ultrasounds and counseling services. Ford said, “The most common response from the girls who try Embrace Grace for the first time is, ‘I thought I was coming here to learn about where I screwed up and go over everything I’ve done wrong.’ But the good news is that they quickly find out how wrong they were. They are quickly overcome by the love and grace of Jesus…the pro-life movement saves babies, but the pro-love movement saves the babies and the mommies.”

Saving love can’t come too soon for Shreveport and the world. An abortion facility in Bossier City closed in April, but there is still one operating in Shreveport (in addition to one in Baton Rouge and one in New Orleans, for a total of three in the State of Louisiana). Louisiana Right to Life Federation (prolifelouisiana.org) reports, “There were 8,972 abortions performed in Louisiana in 2016, down from 9,362 abortions reported in 2015 and 10,211 abortions reported in 2014. The number of abortions performed in the state had increased steadily from 2008-2014 as population numbers returned to pre-Katrina levels… Even with numbers going down, on average, 25 abortions per day were performed in Louisiana.” The website notes that these statistics are from the Louisiana Department of Health and do not factor in the number of women who sought abortions outside the state. On the positive side, these same statistics indicate that the number of abortions performed fell by 14 percent from 2014-2016, meaning that more than three babies were saved per day last year. Pro-life efforts are clearly making an impact, but they must continue stronger than ever.


“I heard today that Mother Teresa picked up 90,000 poor people herself, one person at a time,” said Sciba. “That doesn’t count her 4,000 Sisters of Charity across the world. Mary’s House and Embrace Grace are impacting North Louisiana one woman and baby – unless it’s twins! – at a time. It makes a big difference to that woman and child!” Anyone who wishes to make a difference through Embrace Grace and Mary’s House should email maryshouse.sport@gmail.com. “[We] always welcome donations of money and time,” Sciba said. Women in the diocese are welcome and encouraged to attend the Oct. 22 baby shower as well.

“We believe that the church should be the first place girls should run to during an unplanned pregnancy instead of the last because of shame and guilt,” said Ford. That’s exactly what Sciba and her fellow volunteers aim to do. She said, “In time, with God’s grace and by His providence, Mary’s House and Embrace Grace will have made a positive impact on North Louisiana.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>