Nicole Menein with her newborn child, Emma Grace. Photo courtesy Nicole Menein

Sisters turn crisis pregnancy into a storybook ending

By  Angelica Vecchiato, Youth Speak News
  • March 31, 2021

When she discovered she was pregnant again in 2020, Nicole Meinen was scared, stressed and didn’t know who to turn to for answers.

“It was a shock to find out I was pregnant,” said the 38-year-old. “It was so challenging to accept. I was ashamed, but I was also very scared. I was scared of being judged. I was scared of being alone.”

Meinen, already the mother of three ranging in age from 15 to eight, was working 12-hour-shifts as a packaging operator for the dairy company Saputo Inc. to support her family. The native of Mitchell, Ont., didn’t know how mixing pregnancy with her rigorous weekly obligations could be possible.

“I contemplated an abortion. It seemed like the only way out,” she said. “I made an appointment to get the abortion pills, but I just couldn’t go through with it. Not again. I remembered all the pain, all the tears — I  couldn’t do it again. Yet I was also struggling with how I could keep the baby. I teetered back and forth: should I have an abortion or should I keep my baby?”

Meinen struggled with making a decision and suffered mental anguish and anxiety, until she contacted the Sisters of Life in Toronto. These servants of Christ offer retreats, crisis pregnancy help and support for women seeking healing after completing an abortion.

“The sisters phoned every other day, kept me company, sang songs to me, brought me food, threw me a baby shower and even connected me with other pro-lifers in my community,” she said. “The help they offered wasn’t self-seeking at all. They didn’t care what I had done in the past nor about my denomination, all they cared about was what I was going to do in the present moment.”

“Any woman is welcome with the Sisters of Life,” said Sr. Antoniana Maria Macapagal, SV, superior of the Sisters of Life Toronto. “We reach out to women of all ages and all denominations. We want women to know that we’re here for them.

“From a young teenage mom to a woman who suffered an abortion over 60 years ago, we  offer a non-judgmental environment so that women might encounter the peace of Jesus Christ.”

While the Sisters of Life strive to serve men and women all along the age spectrum, it has a special focus on those between 18 and 35. The sisters host numerous young women and young adult retreats and are very active in campus outreach.

Through the guidance and unfailing assistance of the Sisters of Life, Menein chose life. Her daughter, Emma Grace, was born Jan. 6, 2021 and is named after Sr.    Mary Grace, SV, who closely helped Menein throughout her pregnancy.

“When I look at my daughter’s eyes, I can’t imagine my life without her. I look at her and wonder how I could have thought of it any other way. I have Emma to thank for my new  friendships. I have Emma to thank for my newfound hope,” said Meinen.

When she first told her family that she was pregnant, Meinen received “harsh judgment.” Now, however, things have changed. Meinen owes it all to the strength she found in Christ.

“When I first told my mom and dad I was pregnant, they were initially very disappointed. They weren’t happy at all,” she said. “Yet when you’re strong about your decisions, other people just fall in line. Now anytime I go to see my parents, my dad just lights up when he sees Emma.”

Her family has ultimately embraced the newborn. And other aspects of Meinen’s life are falling into place.

“It had always been a dream of mine to go back to school and the sisters encouraged me to pursue this. I applied to Fanshawe College’s pre-health and science program. Surprisingly, I  got accepted. Thanks to the sisters, who have introduced me to pro-lifers in my community, I am able through their help to balance school, work and motherhood.”

Meinen’s testimonial reflects the founding ideologies of the Sisters of Life mission.

“We believe that each person’s life matters and that God has a plan for each person,” said Macapagal. “All life is valuable and sacred because we are all made in God’s image and likeness. The Sisters of Life’s mission is to offer help for pregnant women to choose life and hope for women who have suffered through an abortion.”

(Vecchiato, 16, is a Grade 11 student at Loretto Abbey Catholic Secondary School in Toronto.)

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