By Kimberly Baker
November 4, 2016
A few days
ago, I was in a crowded metro car during early morning rush hour. At one stop a
rather ordinary, but nervous young woman boarded. As the train started moving
again, she braced herself and then spoke aloud to everyone.
to project her voice, with a controlled self-consciousness as she did so. She
explained, haltingly, that she had recently become homeless, had nowhere to go,
and would be grateful for any money or help offered. She hesitated, and then
added that she had just learned she was pregnant. When finished, she looked
down at the floor, eyes clouded with uncertainty.
riding the metro for several years. This was the first time I have seen a young
woman explaining that she was both homeless and pregnant, her words faltering
as she looked around at the many faces ignoring her. Her entire appearance
expressed, in a striking way,
someone who was both trying to contain her fear yet summon the courage to express
her urgent need.
people came forward, holding out $20 bills, which she accepted with trembling
hands. I felt compelled to do more, to give her something beyond the
expectation that she would have to live in the streets and the subway, day by day,
begging for money. I grabbed some paper and jotted down information about a local
her the piece of paper. She was startled, then took the paper and read. She
looked back at me, curious. I gently explained how it was a place that could
help her out. I saw a sense of longing well up in her, and something else: a
flicker of hope in her eyes. I smiled at her and nodded reassuringly. She smiled
in return, and thanked me quietly.
encounter was very powerful. It was a small connection, with few words
exchanged; but I'll never forget the look of hope in the girl's eyes. I pray
that she was able to reach the maternity home so she will not have to spend
nights on the streets, alone and vulnerable.
As it gets
colder and we approach the holidays, let us especially keep in mind all who are
homeless and all women facing unexpected pregnancies, especially young
unmarried pregnant women who feel they have nowhere to go, no one to trust. If
you know of any women in these circumstances, there are pregnancy help centers
and maternity homes that can offer resources and support. Some homes have
special programs to help mothers finish their education and get a job. Check
with your parish or diocesan pro-life office about local resources.
more we educate ourselves about what help is available to women in crisis
pregnancies, the more we can be a light to others in dark situations. Even for
the stranger we encounter, it is always possible to offer a bit of hope, no
matter how small.
Baker is Programs and Projects Coordinator for the Secretariat of Pro-Life
Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For more information on the
bishops' pro-life activities, please visit www.usccb.org/prolife.