Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Celebrating New Life In Our Parishes

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published April 25, 2013

I was reading the Atlanta newspaper the other day and realized a section has been missing for a long time. You will still find death notices, but there are no birth announcements as in days of old. I’m not sure why this section has vanished, but surely as Catholics we can do better to celebrate the gift of new life.

Of course, one huge aspect of being a pro-life Catholic means supporting organizations like Birthright, which provides spiritual and financial help to women in crisis pregnancies and continues to help after the baby is born. These efforts are worth the money and time for those who know that God is the giver of life—and babies are his creation.

MURRAY April 25, 2013Still, I was wondering how we might better celebrate new life—and growing families—in our local parishes. So many Catholic couples faithfully follow the Church’s precepts on natural family planning and gratefully accept the babies God sends them.

In some cases, maybe the second baby came awfully close on the heels of the first, or maybe the fifth baby meant going without extras for years to come. The parents made the sacrifices, however—and continue to do so—because they know life is precious in God’s eyes. There are also couples who generously open their hearts and homes by adopting children. One family in our parish has adopted four little ones, including one with special needs. What a beautiful reflection of Christ’s love!

How can we more fully celebrate newborn babies and newly adopted children in our parishes? And how can we spiritually support couples who are shining examples of the Catholic belief that life is sacred? Here are a few ideas:

– Announce new births—and adoptions—among parishioners in the weekly parish bulletin.  This way, the whole community becomes more aware of growing families, and can pray for the children and parents.

– Put up a bulletin board in the church narthex or hall and invite parents to post photos of newborn and newly adopted children.

– Invite experts in Catholic family-planning methods to speak to the parish community quarterly. Many couples are eager to learn more about natural family planning—and the moral dangers of contraception—but may be unable to attend talks at other parishes.

– Put a very visible table in the narthex with free information about the Catholic way of planning families and the importance of cherishing life from conception to natural death.

– Plan a “celebrate new life” Mass several times a year, and invite new biological and adoptive parents to attend, along with their little ones, to receive a special blessing. A simple cake-and-punch reception could follow.

– In the prayers of the faithful at Sunday Mass, include prayers for pregnant women in the parish, along with thanksgiving prayers for newborn and newly adopted children.

– A congratulations card sent on behalf of the clergy and parish, assuring new parents of prayers, would be a lovely way to show how much the community treasures life. In parishes that have the resources, a basket of goodies would be an additional sign of love.

We all started out as a little person in our mother’s womb. How fortunate we are that our mothers and fathers put up with the sacrifices necessary to see the pregnancy through. Once we showed up in the world, there was plenty of joy, but the family’s sacrifices intensified in terms of sleepless nights and the countless demands associated with babies.

Many families find the early days of parenting especially trying, and they could surely use our prayers and encouragement. By making a few changes, we can turn our parishes into places where new parents and children feel welcomed, supported and cherished. We can celebrate life in a truly big way!

Lorraine Murray is the author of seven books available at You may email her at Artwork is by her husband, Jef.