‘Little champion’ a Mother’s Day gift

  • May 4, 2011

TORONTO - Cassandra Davis cradles her four-month-old son, Ayomide, and smiles at her “little champion.”

For Davis, this Mother’s Day will be one of celebrating the gift of motherhood, thanks in part to the Sisters of Life.

Davis is one of the many success stories of the Sisters of Life’s ministry for pregnant women in crisis in Toronto. Doctors had counselled Davis to end her pregnancy early because they feared the baby would be a burden to the 25-year-old, and that he wouldn’t survive long. His troubles began 16 weeks into Davis’ pregnancy when doctors found fluid in more than one part of his body. His stomach was larger than his whole body, his head and arms had water under the skin above the bone and his skull bone had water under the skin wall. Doctors predicted he wouldn’t have long to live after delivery and if he did survive, they said he would have severe health problems.

But with the “motherly love” and support of the Sisters of Life, Davis said she was able to stick to her convictions and go through with the pregnancy, despite the pressures from those around her who said she was “selfish” for wanting to “burden” the world with a sick child.

Sr. Monica Faustina Pollard manages the Sisters of Life’s pro-life ministry at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church on Danforth Avenue where the Sisters offer spiritual guidance and moral support for pregnant women in crisis. The Sisters don’t provide professional counselling, but direct women to other resources such as medical and housing services. The Sisters are aided by volunteers from Toronto-area parishes who accompany the women to appointments or help them fulfill other day-to-day tasks.

During her period of struggle, Davis prayed and spoke with Sr. Monica.

Now, the doctors who once predicted Ayomide — which means “My joy” in Nigerian — wouldn’t survive are calling him their “little champion” because he survived this early crisis and doesn’t have any health problems.

Sr. Monica and the Sisters of Life try to make the women feel like they are in a safe place to talk.

“It’s an opportunity to serve (women) as a sister within the family of the Church. We give our hearts in a maternal way, a maternal love,” Sr. Monica said.

Sr. Monica said common issues faced by the women who come to the centre include pressure from family and friends to abort. In a few cases, the Sisters have also helped married women stressed about having children after their husbands have lost their jobs or worried over their uncertain immigration status.

So far, most of the 150 women — mostly in their 20s and from different cultural backgrounds — have chosen to keep their babies.

“(The women) are often in a battle situation at home or other people are unhappy about them being pregnant,” Sr. Monica said.

Sr. Catherine Marie Ross said the Sisters of Life have a “fundamental vocation to love.” It is from God’s personal invitation to love that the Sisters discovered their vocation to work towards protecting the sanctity of human life.

New mother Jodi-Ann is thankful to the Sisters of Life for helping her become “closer to God.” Jodi-Ann says she felt lost and alone after hearing news of her unexpected pregnancy. But the 22-year-old says the Sisters helped her to rediscover her faith.

“They helped me without judging as if I made the worst mistake of my life. They helped me feel better to choose life for my daughter versus abortion,” she said.

While a few women who have come to the centre since it opened last June placed their babies for adoption, there have been some sorrowful cases. A few ended up aborting their babies. The pressure to abort from family or the baby’s father were too great, said Sr. Monica.

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