St. Gianna Offers Hope to Expectant Mothers.

by | Mar 2024

BORN IN Italy in 1922, Gianna Francesca Beretta had an abundance of love for children and, as a devout Catholic, believed in the power of prayer. After she married the love of her life, Pietro Molla, the couple had three children before Gianna tragically suffered two miscarriages. During her next pregnancy, doctors discovered a large tumor and recommended she undergo a hysterectomy, thus terminating her unborn child. Opting for a riskier surgery that ultimately traded her own life for that of her daughter, Gianna Emanuela, she died seven days later. On May 16, 2004, Pope John Paul canonized Gianna Molla as a modern saint. 

In honor of this patron saint of the unborn, Doctors Michael and Katharyn Byrne have recently birthed the St. Gianna Crisis Pregnancy Home (SGCPH) for unhoused expectant mothers. As a retired pediatrician who has lived in Bowling Green for 23 years, Katharyn is a faithful member of the Holy Spirit Catholic Church. She is also involved in several outreach ministries, including Myanmar Humanitarian Charities and Good Samaritan Ministry, which provide services such as building ramps for physically disabled individuals, cleaning homes, making minor home repairs, and providing transportation. 

“Several years ago, my husband brought up the idea of opening a home for women in crisis. We began investigating whether there was indeed a need for a residential facility for unhoused pregnant women in this area, and we began visiting homes in other cities to look at their programs,” said Katharyn. “Local agencies such as LifeSkills, the Salvation Army, and the Family Resource Center told us they knew of pregnant women locally who were sleeping in cars or couch surfing. Women using the Salvation Army’s shelter must leave each morning and can’t return till evening. They have high-risk pregnancies because they have no regular shelter or meals during the day and often no transportation to medical appointments. While initially, I had doubts about our ability to take on such an enormous project, prayer and discernment led a group of us to realize that others had faced the same obstacles and succeeded, and with God’s help, we could, too.”

By faith, they secured a location and began an addition that will serve as a dining room and a classroom for the occupants. To date, 50 volunteers from the Holy Spirit and St. Joseph Catholic Church have come forward to teach various classes, take care of maintenance, and drive the women to their prenatal appointments. They plan to hold a Mass of Commitment where volunteers can solidify their time and talent commitments for the year, along with a reception honoring benefactors.

The motto of SGCPH is “defending life with love,” and its mission is twofold. First, to offer unhoused pregnant women a safe and nurturing place where they can achieve a healthy pregnancy, and second, to provide support and resources to help them as they move toward independence.

“We hope to assist women in breaking the cycle of poverty and ready them to raise their families in more stable circumstances. A nurtured mother is better able to nurture her child. Helping women achieve education and career goals will hopefully lead to less need for government subsidies in the future. 

Our whole community benefits from mothers who are better able to parent and provide for their families.”

In order to fully support six mothers and their babies in this home, SGCPH will need to raise $180,000 in the first year. As part of its “180 Campaign,” it is actively seeking individuals to help raise 1,000 shares of $180 for the next three years to ensure budget needs are adequately met. These funds will ensure that previously homeless mothers “do a 180” and turn their lives around for the better. 

“Members of the community can assist our organization by volunteering their time and talents. We will also have an ongoing need for consumables such as diapers, baby items, and maternity clothing, as we expect women will come to us with few possessions of their own. As each resident graduates from SGCPH, we would like to help them get set up with their baby in what is likely to be subsidized housing. When members of our community no longer need their baby items, such as cribs, or if they have spare housewares or small furnishings that the women might need for their own homes, they can contribute those items to the mothers. We will post immediate needs on our website.” GN 

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