Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Ministry Opens Doors to Troubled Pregnant Women

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Ministry Opens Doors to Troubled Pregnant Women

Article excerpt

You're pregnant, unmarried, a teenager. You're pregnant with an abusive spouse. You're pregnant, living without a man and already have children whom you can barely feed, clothe and shelter.

You've seen the bumper sticker: 1800-No-Abort. You make the call. The person covering the 24-hour hotline assures you there is an alternative to aborting your baby. She tells you about Several Sources Foundation, which has been helping women just like you for 24 years. She asks which part of the country you're calling from and offers to send a list of shelters in your area.

You're not sure. You think you'll still opt for an abortion. Your mother/ boyfriend/husband thinks this is the best solution. Still you're not sure. The person listening to your story asks your name and address. She wants to send you something.

The next day you receive a large packet from Several Sources in Ramsey, N.J, delivered by FedEx. In it are two videos--one about the organization's shelters for pregnant women and their babies, another titled "The Silent Scream," which graphically details the embryonic life of a fetus and what happens to it during an abortion. The packet also contains testimonials from women who have chosen not to abort.

That curious pink plastic object in the packet--you discover when you unwrap the paper around it--is a model of an 11- to 12-week-old "preborn" with a card describing its size, weight and its capabilities at this stage of development.

Every month some 200 kits go out to women who have called the hotline or found Several Sources on its Web site. Though many of them may yet choose to have an abortion, others decide not to. Some will find a shelter in their locale. A few may come to one of the four maternity shelters in New Jersey run by Several Sources. Here they can stay during their pregnancy and up to a year after giving birth.

When Kathy DiFiore, founder of Several Sources Foundation, opened her home to a single pregnant woman in 1981, she had no idea she was starting a ministry that has now served some 500 women and their babies. Gazing over those years, DiFiore estimates the group has counseled more than 50,000 women and aided over 15,000 babies around the country and as far away as the Philippines.

When DiFiore was in her 30s, working as personnel director of a chemical firm and teaching religion in her local parish, St. Paul Church in Ramsey, she knew she also wanted to do "more with my life, something for God." DiFiore had just left an abusive marriage and was on her own.

She sought discernment by reciting the "Peace Prayer" of St. Francis. She also found herself reflecting on the 25th chapter of St. Matthew: I was hungry, thirsty, alone, naked, ill, in prison and you cared for me. It was the same passage that provided guidance to Francis when he was making a career move from rich man to helping the poor, she noted.

All roads of ministry seemed to lead to pregnant women. She found them most in need of food, clothing, shelter and support, and began to take them into her home. DiFiore's family didn't approve. Today, her family members are "my benefactors," she said.

Within three years, DiFiore was fined $10,000 for violating a state law against running an illegal boarding home. The fine drew media attention and prompted State Sen. Gerald Cardinale to sponsor a bill exempting nonprofit groups from the legislation.

When the Senate looked unlikely to budge on the bill, DiFiore contacted Mother Teresa, who was in New York to accept an award at the United Nations. Mother Teresa's letter of support convinced lawmakers to reverse their stand. The fine was removed and Several Sources became legitimate.

The group added a second home in Ramsey in 1989 and another in 1994 in Mendham--gifts from benefactors. Msgr. Thomas McCarthy and parishioners of Our Lady of Good Counsel in nearby Washington Township offered their convent as a maternity shelter in 1990. …

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