Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Being islands of mercy to walk with moms in need

By BISHOP BERNARD E. SHLESINGER III, Commentary | Published December 21, 2021  | En Español

Bishop Bernard E. Shlesinger III

Many people feel separated from the church today. They may flounder in a “sea of indifference” to her teaching or guidance and fail to understand how the truth of the Gospel is really good news. They may judge Holy Mother Church as insensitive to their life choices and conclude that the church is unable to deal with their needs. A question like “What can I do to help you and understand your fear?” can go a long way in bringing many back to the church. Included in such a question is the sense that someone cares and is willing to accompany them.

Unfortunately, some people never hear the truth of the Gospel because the context of a loving encounter and accompaniment is not offered to them. The church therefore must not only preach the truth on moral issues but also must accompany the truth by actions that address this fear. Yes, we must proclaim the Gospel in its entirety, but we must do this without readily condemning another person.

Pope Francis reminds us that our parishes need to be “islands of mercy in the midst of a sea of indifference.” One such way this can be achieved is through a program like “Walking with Moms in Need.” See

Every adult in our parishes should know how to refer a pregnant woman in need to the resources available to her. God referred Mary to the upright man named Joseph. All mothers need more than a teaching lesson from the church, they need our support and the resources of the church.

Our Blessed Mother made a great choice and with possible negative repercussions. Mary’s “yes” was obedient to God’s will but also not in conformity with the law and its power to chastise. Courageous as she was, society had the potential to condemn her and stone her to death. God, on the other hand, had another remedy for this possibility. God provided someone who would walk with a mother in need.  This of course was that upright man known as St. Joseph. Rather than exposing her to the law, he had decided to divorce her quietly, but God chose him instead to accompany a mother in her need.

Every diocese and parish in the United States are encouraged to assess the pastoral and practical assistance currently available to pregnant moms and families.

Pregnant moms in need are in our parishes and neighborhoods. While many pregnancy resources are appropriately coordinated at the diocesan or regional level, moms in need are best reached at the local parish level. Each parish is best able to identify the local pregnancy resources that are available and to identify the potential gaps where resources are lacking.

Let us not allow any mother to feel that she is unsupported. May our parishes become “islands of mercy in a sea of indifference.”