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Maternity home to open on the grounds of St. Gabriel Parish

By VERONICA AMBUUL
01/21/2022 | Comments

COLORADO SPRINGS. A new residence for pregnant mothers and their preschool age children is set to be built on the campus of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish. The home is the culmination of years of research and planning by four long-time pro-life advocates in the Diocese of Colorado Springs — Julie Bailey, Lisa Schmitz, Dick Eitel and Mike Faricy — who refer to themselves as the “Gang of Four.”

“Mike and I talked six years ago about the need for a home for homeless mothers,” said Dick Eitel. “As Mike and I were having these discussions and looking at homes, Mike ran into Julie on the sidewalk (in front of Planned Parenthood).”

Bailey, meantime had been discussing the need for a maternity home with Michele Mason, head of 40 Days for Life in Colorado Springs, and Cheryl McIntosh, director of LifeNetwork’s pregnancy center on Centennial Boulevard. 

“We see the need all the time for women who say, ‘I would keep this baby but I have no place to live. I will get kicked out of my house or dumped by my boyfriend if I keep this baby,” Bailey said. About that same time, Schmitz discerned that God was calling her in this direction as well.

“I had this very clear call on my heart to start a maternity home here,” Schmitz said. “I had run pregnancy centers in the past in Minnesota, and after talking to my husband Tony, I knew the very next person I had to talk to was Julie.”

Once the “Gang of Four” decided to join forces to make the maternity home a reality, they started to look for organizations after which they could model a residence in Colorado Springs.

“We didn’t want to develop a program from the ground up, so we first decided to look at what’s out there,” Bailey said. Through several local contacts, they became aware of a maternity home called “Mater Filius” (Latin for “mother and child”) in Omaha, Nebraska. 

Bailey and Schmitz drove to Omaha in March of 2021 to see the home for themselves and were immediately impressed.

“We spent the better part of two days visiting with their directors in the house and understanding their model,” Bailey said. “When we walked into Mater Filius, we felt this sense of peace, organization, structure and calm. It was just overpowering in a good way.”

They also learned that the residence is part of a worldwide network of maternity homes founded in Mexico City in 2003.  There are currently 22 Mater Filius homes in Mexico, Central America and the United States, all of which use the same basic format of providing pregnant women with a tranquil home; a personal mentor; assistance with doctor appointments, transportation and counseling; spiritual care; access to child enrichment; and a path to independence — all at no cost to her.

“All that’s required of a woman to come live at Mater Filius is that she be pregnant and that she be open to change,” Bailey said. “Every mom will have a doula, or mentor, assigned to her. The whole time, the doula is working with the mom to figure out what she needs to be successful. Is it education? Is it job training?”

Eitel and Faricy, meanwhile, had met with Father Kirk Slattery, pastor of St. Gabriel Parish, and told him about their efforts.

“Father Kirk immediately said that he wanted the home on St. Gabriel property,” Eitel said. “Now we’re in the process of raising about $600,000 to build the home. We’re going to enter into a long-term lease with the diocese for the land.”

“The house will be large enough to hold 10 mothers with their children up to the age of five,” Schmitz said. Mothers can stay at the home from the time they find out they are pregnant until their baby is eight months old, she said.

Although the home will be open to women of any faith background, it will have a definite Catholic identity. Father Slattery will serve as chaplain and will celebrate Mass at the home weekly.

“A central component of the house is the chapel,” Eitel said. “All of the coaching with the doulas takes place in front of the Blessed Sacrament.”

“It’s our hope that that they see our love, the love of Christ and the love of Mary coming through us,” Schmitz said.

For more information, visit www.materfiliuscs.org or call 719-900-2801.


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