The recent Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned Roe v. Wade and returned the question of abortion to individual states. A good number already have or plan to soon put restrictions or outright bans in place. Others such as California and New York have moved in the exact opposite direction, with politicians promoting a headlong rush toward abortion and seeking to increase its availability here, even to women who live outside the state.
Coverage in traditional media is so skewed on this issue, it would be easy to assume there are absolutely no efforts to care for women in New York who need assistance in bringing their unborn babies to life and helping them to learn to live independently. The Catholic community should know that is not the case.
Over the years, we’ve featured such pro-life efforts in this space and throughout the pages of Catholic New York, and the work bears re-emphasizing, especially now. Often, the efforts are a tag team of support, as the one I’m going to tell you about.
This week, I interviewed a student from the University of Notre Dame who is spending her summer working with new mothers and their children at Good Counsel Home on Staten Island. I wasn’t originally supposed to do this story but stepped in to pinch hit at the last minute, a fortunate turn of events.
Ryan Benevento is a native of New Canaan, Conn., who has been living with the moms and babies of Good Counsel since May 31. When we chatted by phone Monday morning, I could occasionally hear young children in the background. That isn’t unusual, I’m sure, since there can be up to seven moms and seven children living at the home.
Speaking of the children, who range from infants and babies to toddlers up at age 2, Ryan says, “They’re so cute. I love spending time with them.”
With three younger brothers at home, the 20-year-old said she’s been around younger children her whole life. At Good Counsel, she’ll often color or sing songs with the kids.
“I’m always willing to help someone out in that way,” she said, referring to the mothers.
The incoming junior is a science business major who is on a pre-med track and hopes to become a neonatal nurse. She said she figured Good Counsel would be a “good fit” for her, and with only two weeks remaining in her internship she firmly believes she made the right decision.
Her placement came through the Summer Learning Program of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns. Her application essay addressed disparities in maternal care for women of different races and classes.
The internship is also supported by the Notre Dame Alumni Club of Staten Island, which has long been active in many areas of pro-life work and recently expressed support for the comprehensive pro-life statement Cardinal Dolan and his fellow bishops of New York state issued May 12.
Ryan has met club members at dinner and meetings as well as other functions. While she didn’t know a lot about Good Counsel Homes at the outset, she said she’s become familiar with the spiritual lessons instilled in life skills classes for the new mothers. She especially enjoys the community feeling fostered among staff and guests by sitting down to dinner together each evening.
She sees the good being accomplished before her eyes, as moms are given the time and skills to become self-sufficient, so they can eventually have a successful, independent life with their family. “Having the moms open up to me, and getting to know them, has been really special,” Ryan said.
She said her co-workers manage to be selfless and work as a team, as they guide the moms through often challenging circumstances. “They’re really always giving,” she said. “I find it really inspiring.”
For more information about Good Counsel Homes, go to goodcounselhomes.org.
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