Foster Parent Has a Message for You: “Start Praying”

By Margaret E. Hynes

Foster Parent Has a Message for You: “Start Praying”

October 5, 2021 - Ryan Phelan has a deep love for all God’s children, especially foster children. As a foster parent himself, Phelan understands the importance of supporting children in need.

“It was something that was always on my heart, something that my wife and I felt drawn to. We have three biological children, but we felt the need to explore foster care as an option,” said Phelan, who serves as Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Phelan and his wife have been foster parents for about five years and during that time they have cared for about 30 children for varying lengths of time.

Phelan also serves as an advocate for a new Foster Care Initiative organized by the Diocese of St. Petersburg.

“Our hope is to create a greater awareness of foster care, and children whose parental rights have been terminated and who are seeking adoption. These kids come in all shapes and sizes and ages and colors, and they are all different, and so beautiful and unique. We are just trying to help them find a ‘forever family’ who will adopt them and care for them in whatever stage of life they are in through this initiative,” said Phelan.

He continued saying, “This initiative is important because there are kids without families. God has created each child to have dignity, value, self-worth, and here are children, in some cases, that are without that. We are hoping to rally our parishioners, to rally our families, to start praying to acknowledge that this person does have dignity, value, and self-worth. We want make sure that we help to restore that self-worth to these beautiful children.”

Sabrina Burton Schultz, Director of Life, Justice, and Advocacy Ministry in the Diocese of St. Petersburg is spearheading the foster care initiative. To help put a face or many faces on this issues, large photos of the children in foster care have been printed into posters and these photos make up a “Heart Gallery” of children in need of homes.

“We are asking parishes and schools to spiritually adopt a child from the Heart Gallery, in which they agree to display the child’s picture and bio and pray for the child each week. They can also create prayer cards that members of the congregation can take home,” said Burton Schultz.

“The mission is to find a safe, permanent, loving home for every waiting foster child. We are asking our communities to focus their prayers on one or two children and continue to pray for them until they find their forever home. This is a gentle way to promote foster care and adoption in our communities,” added Burton Schultz.

During this month of Respect Life, this is an ideal time for parishes, schools and families to get involved.

“Each October the Church in the United States celebrates Respect Life Month. As Catholics, we are called to cherish, defend, and protect those who are most vulnerable, from the beginning of life to its end, and at every point in between. During the month of October, the Church asks us to reflect more deeply on the dignity of every human life,” said Burton Schultz.

For Phelan, he places his trust in the Lord as his family offers love and care to foster children. They also believe in the power of prayer.

“Once, we took in a two-month-old girl and her two-year-old brother. The state came to my wife and asked if we would adopt these children. We had fallen in love with them. We brought it to prayer. We concluded that we were not going to ask them to leave our house, but we asked God that he would show us the family these children were meant to be with if it is not us. Sure enough, we were able to find a foster mom who fell in love with the kids, and it was abundantly clear that God wanted these two children to be with the husband and wife who did end up adopting them. It was truly of God, and all we did was pray ‘Lord, where do these kids belong, and what can we do to help them to get them to the right home,’” said Phelan.

Get Involved

To get involved, or if you’d like to learn how to bring this project into your school or parish, you can contact Sabrina Burton Schultz by calling 727-344-1611 or emailing To consider becoming a foster parent or adopting a child from foster care, you can reach out to Eckerd Connects by clicking this link. If you cannot foster or adopt at this time, you or your parish can still find ways to support foster families through Foster Florida by clicking this link. Even more information about this initiative can found at this link.

Here is a silent reflection that can be recited for children awaiting adoption:

Scripture: Matthew 19: 13 -14.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you saw in the innocence of children the attributes which make us worthy of heaven—trust, joy, humility, obedience, and faithfulness. Bless all children who are awaiting adoption. They seek love—may they find it in loving parents. They seek stability—may they find a home rooted in faith. They seek acceptance—may their gifts be recognized and nurtured. And may they always know your steadfast love for them and the true joy of loving you.

Petition to Saint Joseph: Blessed St. Joseph, you welcomed the Christ Child into your home, provided for his daily needs, and helped him to grow in wisdom, age, and grace. Hear the prayers of all children who are awaiting a loving home and intercede for them before your adopted Son and Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. St. Joseph, Guardian, and Protector, pray for us.

(These petitions and prayers are from

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