Pro-life Sisters to open new centre

  • June 4, 2010
Sisters of LifeTORONTO - After nearly three years of getting to know Toronto, the Sisters of Life will celebrate their newly opened Sisters of Life Centre with a special Mass and social gathering on June 12.

Visitors to the celebration will get to tour the new centre, formerly the rectory of St. Catherine of Siena parish. Renovations began last fall and the centre contains two parlours on the first floor for meeting with visitors, a kitchen and dining room, and on the second floor a chapel and six offices equipped with phones and computers for the Sisters to connect pregnant women in need with volunteers and important services.

“We’re meeting with them and help alleviate fears they may have about their pregnancy, just through being able to provide them personal support, our love and attention and practical resources and support they might need,” said Sr. Catherine Marie, one of five Sisters of Life in Toronto. “The whole heart of this mission is to love women with the whole heart of Christ and to be able to provide them with spiritual, emotional and practical support so that they can say yes to this gift of a child that is now growing within them.”

The Sisters of Life, a congregation founded in New York, established a Canadian presence in Toronto in 2007. The order spent the first year and a half discerning its focus and began helping pregnant women who were referred to them. Although the centre only opens this month, Sr. Catherine Marie said the Sisters of Life have already provided support to 80 mothers.

“There are women coming on a daily basis to meet with the Sisters, talk with them, have something to eat and make plans for their future,” she said.

The Sisters said their new centre, located between the Greenwood and Donlands subway stops on the Danforth, gives a home base for more than 350 volunteers and offers a safe place to welcome pregnant women in need.

Many of the volunteers are “co-workers” or “handmaids” trained by the Sisters last year in the art of helping pregnant women. Co-workers volunteer their time and skills to help mothers, whether it be driving them to doctor’s appointments, accompanying them on shopping trips, offering their friendship or even opening their homes. Men will sometimes contribute by helping to move furniture or offering to mentor the father of the child.

“Often the women who come to us feel abandoned by those they have loved and trusted. And sometimes that’s even their own family or the father of the baby. We then look to build a little community of love and support around them. That’s where the volunteers or the co-workers come in,” said Sr. Catherine Marie.

After spending time focusing on their volunteers, the Sisters plan to promote their centre and outreach to a larger number of mothers.

“I would say the vast majority of women who come to us don’t desire abortion. Often what happens, they feel like they don’t have a choice,” said Sr. Catherine Marie. “But if they had real choices — to be able to continue school, or continue to be supported by their family, to have people in their life that love them, to be able to know that there wasn’t a bias against women pregnant in the work force, or parenting students or parenting mothers in the work force —  if they had more choices they wouldn’t want an abortion.”

The Sisters hope to host events and spiritual activities for mothers, but may wait until the number of Sisters in Toronto grows.

“Toronto has been a wonderful place to start because we have felt the Church very welcome and very ready to engage this mission. I think that we’re able to offer something unique in that as Catholic Sisters we come really bringing the faith and seeking to love with the power of Christ.”

To contact the Sisters, call 1-877-543-3380 or (416) 463-2722.

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