What Does It Mean To Be Pro-Life?

What does it mean to be “pro-life”?  I asked some 10th grade students this question and I received a very interesting answer from one young man.  He said that when he thinks of a person who is pro-life, he imagines one of those extreme animal-rights activists…on steroids.  This is a harsh description.  However, most of the other students in the class knew exactly what he was talking about.  Unfortunately, so did I.  Is this the image pro-life individuals are giving the general population?  Do people really think that pro-lifers are angry mobs of people who hold extreme views and use inflammatory tactics to promote their agenda?

Not all pro-lifers are extreme and angry, but there are also other ways the public has a negative image of the movement.  There are some people who misuse prayer, they somehow use God as a weapon.  They shout words of scorn and condemnation rather than incorporating the virtues of empathy and mercy into their approach.  It is important that we reach out to women from a place of love especially when she is contemplating taking the life of her child.  Nothing could be worse than to leave a woman feeling as if God rejects her in her darkest hour.  We can’t expect a woman to make a loving decision if she is not experiencing the love of God.  It is important to ask ourselves how Jesus prays for these women and their unborn children.

There are also individuals who recognize the immorality of issues such as abortion and euthanasia yet take an extremely passive approach to the topic.  So passive, in some instances, that even their closest friends don’t know where they stand on these issues.  Oftentimes they take this approach because they don’t know how to make an argument for life.  They haven’t been equipped with the “tools” to do it.  There are many arguments in favor of abortion and euthanasia, however most of them are merely a distraction from the fundamental fact that the killing of an innocent human being is morally wrong.  Not being able to see through these distractions can leave people with a feeling that life issues are unimportant or that pro-lifers don’t have the authority to speak in God’s name for the sake of the vulnerable.

I hope that we can find the right balance in our approach to life issues.  Temperance is a virtue that needs to be at the core of our work.  Every effort must be made to promote a consistent life ethic, living every moment of our lives with a deep respect for all people.  The word respect comes from the Latin word respectus which means “to look again.”  It would be a great benefit to the pro-life movement if we would “look again” at how we are approaching these sensitive topics.  Are we welcoming and loving or are we inflaming and harsh?  Are we embracing life on every level or are we focusing on just the big issues?  Are we acting with integrity?

In an effort to “look again”, I invite all of the supporters of Carolyn’s Place to participate in our education programs.  Every first and third Tuesday evening of each month, we offer educational videos and discussion on life issues varying from contraception to dating to STDs to pornography and more.  These videos are free and all are welcome to watch and listen.  There is so much to learn.  Additionally, I offer talks on life issues to groups.  If you have a women’s group, men’s group, church group, etc… I will gladly come to you and discuss the issues that are on your mind.  There is no fee for this service.

It is important that we don’t forget about our young people.  I have been working on a very special project for them.  Our Future Life Advocate program is designed for young adults and high school students.  This program is a 12-session program that looks to raise a generation that understands what it means to have a consistent life ethic and become a leader on life affirming issues.  Participants in this program can earn service hours while they learn about character development, sexual responsibility, cultural influences, and life issues.  Topics that will be covered include:  responsibility, role modeling, peer-to-peer mentoring, courage, empathy, mercy, respect, integrity, healthy relationships, dating, chastity, abstinence, STDs, STIs, contraception dangers,  media influence, peer pressure, attitude, importance of family, human development (from conception to birth), abortion, euthanasia, embryonic research, and more.  If you are interested in this free program or know someone who is, contact me for an application and to discuss meeting times.  It is time that we give this young generation the tools they need to share the love of God in the world while promoting a culture of life.

~Jessica

Catholic Heroes

In October, I had the privilege of participating as a panelist at Sacred Heart High School’s freshman retreat.  The event was titled “Catholic Heroes.”  This retreat was organized for the freshmen at Sacred Heart as a response to the recent scandal that the Church is facing.  The administration at the school wanted to give the students examples of local organizations who are living out the teachings of the Church. The goal was to show the children that the love of Christ is much bigger and more powerful than the problems the Church is experiencing.  It was our goal to show the children the beauty of the Church in action.

The retreat featured four local Catholic organizations that serve the needs of the community and do it with excellence.  These organizations were St. Vincent DePaul Mission of Waterbury, Catholic Relief Services, the Malta House of Care, and Carolyn’s Place.  We each had an opportunity to present how we serve the community, how it effects the lives of those we serve, and give the students ideas about how they, too, can be Catholic Heroes.

Sacred Heart couldn’t have chosen a better time or theme for such a retreat.  As adults, we must remember that the children who are in high school today have never seen churches with congregations overflowing.  These children have never experienced standing-room-only Masses.  They don’t have nuns in every classroom.  Most Catholic children today don’t even have Catholic education.  As scandal rocks the Church, adults can look back and take comfort in the “good old days” and hope things will soon return to how they used to be.  The children of today don’t have those memories.  They were born at a time of diminishing Mass attendance, church closings, apathy, and horrifying scandal.  As a community of believers, it is our responsibility to ignite faith in these children and let them know the beauty that is found in the teachings and Tradition of the Catholic Church.  We have to teach them that the love of Jesus is active and alive.  We can do this through service to one another, by setting a good example, remaining faithful to the teachings of the Church, and by doing what Christ commands us; to “love one another.”  I am so grateful that Sacred Heart found that the work we do at Carolyn’s Place was worthy to send this message to their students.  I am also encouraged that Sacred Heart took an initiative to look for the positive and use that as a building block for their students’ faith formation.

New Opportunities

The education ministry of Carolyn’s Place is dedicated to advancing healthy relationships founded on Catholic truths.  I often visit religious education programs, church youth groups and schools to share the message about healthy relationships with our youth and young adults.  Recently, I have had the privilege to expand our education programs to some new groups.

In the spring, I ran an eight-week Respect, Responsibility, Relationship series at the Willow Plaza Community Center in Waterbury.  The kids at Willow Plaza come from low income, broken homes.  They often don’t have positive role models in their lives.  The children would greet me with excitement, hugs and smiles when I would arrive.  Each week, I was challenged to let these children know that they don’t have to settle for a life of brokenness.  They learned about self-respect, integrity, character, and healthy relationships while playing games and making some fun crafts.  Our program was so well received, that I have been invited back to conduct an ongoing youth leadership program for the 2018-2019 school year.  In the upcoming months, we are going to build on the friendships we established and work to empower these kids for success.  The staff at Willow Plaza and I are also working to form a bible study that will introduce the kids to the gospel and reinforce the character building we do during the leadership classes.

In addition to Willow Plaza, Carolyn’s Place ran programs for the kids at Naugatuck Youth Services.  I went to the armory in Naugatuck and held a class for approximately 30 middle school students.  I helped the children ask themselves and answer the following questions; “Where am I going?” and “How will I get there?”  We established some practical goals and worked on decision-making skills.  I went back to visit their Summer Lounge program to discuss sexually transmitted diseases and infections with children aged 11-16.  It was heartbreaking that these children had not been taught accurate information about STD’s/STI’s before I visited.  Every one of these kids believed that if they use a condom, they would not contract a STD/STI.  Nothing could be further from the truth!!!  I am so glad I was able to clear up their misconceptions and give them the accurate information they need to keep themselves healthy.

Looking forward, I will be hosting a Respect, Responsibly, Relationships program for eight weeks at the Woodbury library this fall.  It is exciting that the education programs are beginning to reach beyond our churches and schools!!!  I am happy to visit with your group as well; all our programs are free.  Give me a call, 203-695-3999!

JOY

Since beginning as the Education Coordinator in January 2018, I have spoken with over 800 youth and adults about healthy relationships, love, chastity, respect, responsibility, upholding the sanctity of life, and the dignity of the person.   The feedback has been overwhelming and I would like to share some of that with you.

At St. John of the Cross, I talked about dating, abstinence and chastity.  After the talk, one young lady said “Thank you so much for confirming all the things about chastity that my mother has been telling me.  People don’t teach us that.  It is so good to know other people still believe in purity and it is an option for us.”  At St. Francis Xavier, there was a mother who told me that her daughter felt that the talk I gave on chastity and abstinence was the best CCD class she had ever attended.  At St. Paul High School, there was a boy who gave me a hug after the class and expressed his gratitude for the presentation.  His teacher explained to me that this boy had never actively participated in class before that day and was completely surprised that he hugged me and was shocked at his enthusiasm for the discussion.

Our youth are hungry for the truth and it is evident that they mostly do not have access to truthful, accurate information about their bodies and relationships.  There are more talks planned yet so much more needs to be done.  It would be helpful to have an education team at Carolyn’s Place.  A group of people who are passionate about teaching our youth and adults about life.  If God is speaking to you right now, if you feel a burning in your heart, call/text or email 203-695-3999 or educationatcp@gmail.com to talk about volunteering to be a part of a team to empower this generation.  There are many ways to help.

I would like to leave you with more inspiring feedback from some letters I received from the students at St. Paul High School:

“Thank you for coming to speak to us.  You opened my eyes to a lot of different subjects, such as abortion, pregnancy, and faith.  You taught me that a child is always a gift no matter if they were planned or not.  We are never alone.  We have people to help us if we need someone.  God has a plan for all of us.  We might not expect it, but we are blessed with the gifts He gives to us.  Thank you ♥”

~St. Paul, Senior

 

“Thank you very much for coming to us.  Many of the things you shared were truly touching and made me fall in love with Carolyn’s Place.  How selfless you all are.  The fact that you all give so much and take so little is rare and beautiful.  Thank you so much for all you do and your passion goes such a long way.”

~Love, Rachael

 

“I enjoyed your company, you taught us that all life matters and all life should deserve to live.  You also taught us that we all have a purpose and a home to come to if we are in trouble.”

~St. Paul, Senior

 

“Thank you for coming to speak to us about the wonderful ministry of Carolyn’s Place.  Your stories were very moving and humbling, and I gained a greater appreciation of the ministry and for my relationship with God.  God bless you.”

~Sincerely, Noah

 

“I thought your presentation today was inspiring.  I learned about what Carolyn’s Place is and does.  I learned how you reach out to mothers and fathers in need and it also deepened my understanding of how important and sacred life is.”

~Sincerely, Ben

 

“I think it’s great that you come out to places like St. Paul’s to spread news about Carolyn’s Place & its mission.  What Carolyn’s Place does for others is amazing and I believe it is something God would want people to do to help others.”

~Grace

 

“Thank you for coming in on Friday to talk about Carolyn’s Place.  The presentation was helpful & I learned new interesting things about it.  The idea on how Carolyn’s Place started all from the inspiration of a girl named Carolyn is truly amazing.  I find the pregnancy center as a helpful & unique place.  You guys are doing great and I’m glad that there’s a place where they help us females come to the understanding of what abortion is, what are some other ways to give away the baby instead of abortion, and that we are not alone!”

~Leslie

 

“I was very interested and impressed with the presentation you did for my class.  It made me more interested about what you do…I understand that God has called you to do this.  I also understand that because of you, abortion will grow smaller in this world.”

~Paul

“Does someone have to count every single coin that you collect from the baby bottle drive?”

~Romi

Standing in the Gap

I have quite an affinity for the stories found in the prophets of the Old Testament.  I love reading about the infidelity of Israel, the crimes of Jerusalem, the abominations, the exile, and the symbolism.

Oh, what drama!!!  Israel just doesn’t understand the love of God!

It is interesting to read these Old Testament stories and learn from them about our current culture.  We are surrounded with immorality, isolation, loneliness, and indifference, much like the Israelites.  So often we forget the tender love of God and His wisdom.  I am reminded of the line from the prophet Ezekiel 22:30 where God is looking for someone to “stand in the gap.”  He is looking for someone to recognize His love, but He is also looking for someone to understand modern day struggles, and to be that bridge between the two.

Currently, I see the youth looking to their peers and the media for guidance.  This may lead to a misunderstanding of life, love and relationship. Like the people of Israel, the youth of today often view moral teachings as a form of oppression and reject them rather than rejoice in the freedom that comes from loving God.  As Christians, we are called to stand in this gap.  We are called to know the love of God and yet to recognize the struggles our brothers and sisters have.  We are to act with the greatest charity by redirecting hearts and minds to embrace the freedom afforded by virtue.  As the Education Coordinator at Carolyn’s Place, it is a blessing to be that bridge, to stand in the gap, to point the youth to a better way and remind them of the love God has for them.

In Christ our life,

 

~Jessica

Education Coordinator

I am overjoyed to join the staff at Carolyn’s Place as the new Education Coordinator!  Teens and young adults have a difficult path to navigate in our culture.  So many voices are encouraging them to settle for a way of life that does not recognize their dignity.  One of the missions at Carolyn’s Place is to empower individuals through education.  Respect, relationships, and responsibility are the focus.  I am grateful for the opportunity to reach out to the youth of our community and begin with them a journey of self-realization.   This journey will help our youth to understand their purpose, value, choices, and consequences.

I have a background that leaves me with a burning passion to remind our youth of their goodness.  I have been a catechist of the Catholic Faith for fifteen years and a Director of Religious Education for area parishes for thirteen of those years.  What a joy it has been to work with the children and families of our community!  Those opportunities revealed the struggles that families face in getting children the facts about the facts of life.   Additionally, my husband and I are the proud parents of six children (ages 6-19).  Being a parent of teenagers, I can see many of the challenges our youth are faced with today.  Education is empowerment and I am dedicated to ensuring children and young adults have an opportunity to hear the Gospel of Life.

I am currently scheduling talks with the public, youth service groups, parishes, schools, respect-life groups, and much more.  I have scheduled the Tweens Take Charge program for Tuesdays in April and May of 2018.  If you would like Carolyn’s Place to give a presentation or if you would like any information about our programs, you can contact me by phone or text 203-695-3999 or email educationatcp@gmail.com.  I am filled with gratitude to be a part of the Carolyn’s Place team and I look forward to serving the community of Waterbury and its surrounding areas.

Sincerely in Christ,

Jessica Mulligan

Don’t Overdo it with the Negatives….

Oftentimes, when adults talk to teenagers about waiting until marriage for sex (as they should), things can sound pretty negative: “Don’t have sex, because there are so many STDs out there.”  “Don’t have sex, because you don’t want to get pregnant before you are ready to take on the responsibility of parenthood.”  “Don’t have sex, because it’s a sin if you aren’t married.”  “Don’t have sex, because you will be emotionally destroyed if the relationship ends.”  Of course, these are all very true statements, and it is important for young people to hear these messages.  However, as an educator on issues of human sexuality, I urge you not to forget to share with our young people, all the positives of waiting until marriage.

Here are some tips:

1. Remind them that chastity is not a giant NO, but rather, a giant YES to authentic love, physical, emotional, and spiritual health, one’s future spouse and family, etc.

2. Remind them that anyone can say “yes,” but it’s much harder to say “no.”   Also, by saying “no” to temporary pleasures now, one’s “yes” later on will have much more meaning (more on this in the next blog post).

3. Chastity prepares you for your future vocation: discipline, sacrifice, self-giving, self-control, etc. are not learned overnight. http://chastityproject.com/2014/05/chastity-before-marriage-fosters-chastity-in-marriage/

4. Chastity is Fidelity Insurance: “A person who has sex outside of marriage shows that they are willing to have sex with someone they aren’t married to.” http://chastityproject.com/2014/05/chastity-before-marriage-fosters-chastity-in-marriage/

5. Encourage dating with purpose.  Have your teens develop a list of the qualities they would like in their future spouse. They can use this list to evaluate their own qualities, and it can help them to consider who to date: Is this someone they could potentially marry someday? Would he/she make a good husband, wife, father, or mother? If not, is it worth wasting your time, and more importantly, your heart, on something that is practically guaranteed to fail and lead to heartbreak?  As a bonus, It will also help them to avoid dating for the sake of dating, which will lower the number of break ups and broken hearts they have to endure.