The Office of Pro-Life Activities has begun a campaign to distribute signs, bumper stickers, magnets and other materials advertising an outreach center for pregnant women in need and a counseling service for women and men who have experienced abortion.
Matthew Boyle is the chairperson of the education committee of Vine and Branches of the Office of Pro-Life Activities, and is helping to promote these organizations.
"Vine and Branches works in four areas, based on the pastoral plan that was developed by St. John Paul II in terms of pro-life activities," Boyle said. "He suggested work be done in the area of prayer and worship, public policy, education and pastoral care. The program that my committee is working on, with the other committees, too, is getting up signage for two pastoral care programs - the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Center and Project Rachel, which is post-abortion reconciliation."
The Office of Pro-Life Activities has established Vine and Branches to meet the facets of this pastoral plan, said Cheryl Calire, director of Pro-Life Activities. Each group involved has a leader with 10 to 15 other people from the eight counties of the diocese.
As chair of his committee, Boyle is responsible for the initiative, "Seeds of Witness," to design and then distribute signs, banners, car magnets and bumper stickers to the community. They are selling 2-by-3-foot lawn signs for $10, car magnets for $3 and bumper stickers for $1. Church committees may purchase these from the diocese in bulk quantities to sell in their own parishes.
"Some people are very picky about their cars and don't want a bumper sticker, so we have car magnets," Boyle said. "The idea is, you're at Wegmans and suddenly a woman who is in a crisis pregnancy situation sees your bumper sticker, or a woman who has had an abortion sees the car magnet that says, "Hope After Abortion. They see (the word) 'abortion' and their interest is drawn to it."
The Project Rachel promotional materials include a rosary with a cross in the middle, the words "Hope After Abortion" and a national contact number for Project Rachel. When Western New Yorkers dial this number, their area code directs them to Calire. People in other areas will reach their coordinators.
"The ones for St. Gianna Molla have (the name of the organization) and 'Pregnancy Care Center' with the phone number," Boyle said. "We're going to develop some other materials, and they're probably going to say, 'Pregnant? Need help?' and then 'St. Gianna Molla.'"
They are also selling "Precious Feet," footprint pins that are about the size of a 10-week-old fetus' foot. As a teacher, Boyle has had students ask about the feet while he is wearing the pin.
"Whether you're one of the guys in the class who has a size 13 foot or you're one of the young ladies who has a much smaller foot, our feet all started out, at 10 weeks, at that size," Boyle said.
Boyle said that billboards have previously been used to promote the ministries, but are relatively expensive. A few years ago they decided to use vinyl signs that were more reasonable.
"We had to combine our efforts," he said. "When 10 churches came together and could agree on the design, they made a banner. Those banners, if treated well, will last for years and years, as opposed to that $1,000 going to that billboard."
According to Boyle, while car advertisements are more mobile than a lawn sign, it is a challenge to make the numbers large enough for people driving by to see them on the cars. However, before the program started, Calire made a few of the materials and distributed them to friends. Not long after, Calire received a call from a woman who had an abortion and asked about Project Rachel.
"She's actually going to a healing retreat at Christ the King Seminary, called "Hope and Healing," specifically designed for post-abortive women and men," Calire said.
"It's prayer and work," Boyle said. "My faith does not end with prayers. It starts with prayers and, in a sense, it ends with prayers, but it also has to extend to works."
For more information or to purchase these promotional materials, call Cheryl Calire in the Office of Pro-Life Activities at 716-847-2203.