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Local Pregnancy Center is “Walking With Moms in Need”

By Margaret E. Hynes

Local Pregnancy Center is “Walking With Moms in Need”

Pope Francis reminds Catholics that our parishes should be “islands of mercy in the midst of a sea of indifference.” That is why the Upper Pinellas Pregnancy Center is working to help women in need. The Pregnancy Center is a ministry of St. Ignatius of Antioch Parish in Tarpon Springs. Mary Caesar, Administrative Director at the Center, has been volunteering there for almost twenty-five years.

“I volunteer because it’s not enough to just tell people to choose life, we need to reach out and actively help them. If it makes a difference to help somebody, it’s worth it,” said Mary.

She recalls an experience when one of the Center’s clients chose life for her baby.

“There was this woman we were working with who was abortion-minded, and through us she decided to keep her child. It’s a wonderful ministry to be a part of. It can be really rewarding,” said Mary.

Monsignor Joe Pellegrino, pastor of St. Ignatius of Antioch Parish, helped to establish the Pregnancy Center in 1993.

“The Center was started by the people of St. Ignatius because we wanted to do more than just say ‘don’t have abortions.’ Instead, we wanted to provide alternatives. Initially, we started the Pregnancy Center in one of our classrooms. However, it expanded so much that we put the ministry in its own building. It has been very successful. We’ve had many women that have come through and get the help that they needed,” said Monsignor Joe.

At the Pregnancy Center, there is an effort to teach and encourage, but there is also a desire to be hands-on and provide tangible care for moms and dads in need.

“There are people who promote legislation and try to lobby and change things that way. There are people who focus on education and try to teach about prolife issues and the development of a baby, and then there are people who provide hands-on support. You need all three in the prolife movement. We’re that third piece,” said Mary.

Mary is fully emersed in giving back to her community and helping women through difficult situations. She feels that, as Catholics, it is imperative to help those in need. All services and items are given free of charge.

The center offers pregnancy tests, referrals to counseling and referrals to programs for medical care, housing, electricity, and other necessities. The Center gives away diapers, clothing, bedding and other essentials, as well as toys and lots of baby-related items.

The Pregnancy Center is a great example of “Walking with Moms in Need,” an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Campaign encourages Catholics to provide service and support to local pregnant and parenting women. This nationwide effort kicked off on March 25th of 2020, which was the 25th anniversary of Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) as well as the Solemnity of the Annunciation. It was established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Pro-Life Activities.

St. John Paul II stated in Evangelium Vitae (62), “direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being … No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the law of God, which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.” Walking With Moms uses this Catholic teaching as its foundation.

To support the Walking with Moms initiative, parish communities are invited by the Pro-Life Committee to implement and utilize their educational, pastoral, and action-oriented resources so that parishes may begin to “assess, expand, and communicate resources to pregnant moms and families in need (https://www.walkingwithmoms.com/about).” If you’d like to learn more on how to get involved with this project, please click this link. If you’d like to volunteer at the Tarpon Springs Upper Pinellas Pregnancy Center, please call this number: (727) 937-4304. You can also visit the center at this address: 80 N Walton Ave, Tarpon Springs.


Photo Caption: Mary Caesar is on the left of this photo. She accepted a donation on behalf of the Upper Pinellas Pregnancy Center from the Knights of Columbus at St. Ignatius of Antioch Parish. Photo courtesy of Knights of Columbus.