The announcement of a pregnancy was met with “joy” and “anticipation” in my family. Congratulations were extended to the blessed couple who represented not only blood aunts, uncles and cousins, but also neighborhood friends who were treated as members of the family.

As the pregnancy progressed, there was a moment when my mother, one of my aunts or one of her lady friends would proclaim a date for a “baby shower.” Of course, as a little boy, this term “baby shower” was a strange term to me since there was no baby present and “shower” — what did that mean? Was it going to be a group clean up?

During the event, all the kids were entrusted to the care of my father or one of my uncles. The men were strictly prohibited from invading this inner sanctum of the adult female gathering.

In the end, all the ladies were so happy that it appeared to be a great way to celebrate the coming baby and reinforce the “joy” shared by so many for the mother to be.

We are only a little more than two months away from Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Mary would be in her seventh month of pregnancy and, to the best of my knowledge, no one gave Mary a baby shower. Mary probably could have used a bit of anticipation and joy in her young life. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” Lk 1:38.

St. Elizabeth, who experienced pregnancy beyond her childbearing years, seemed to be the only one who shared her joyful anticipation. “Most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb” Lk 1:42.

Mary stated, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed” Lk 1:46-48.

We have an opportunity to provide a baby shower for Mary, sharing in her joy and anticipation of the coming of Jesus. Even men are welcome to offer their gifts before they retire to the TV room to watch football.   

I have heard it said that obviously the Three Kings were bachelors. Had they been husbands, instead of gold, frankincense and myrrh, they would have provided gifts of diapers, infant or toddler clothes, a baby car seat and a few dollars.

Now, we can’t all go to Bethlehem or Nazareth to hold our shower, but the Cousins Center is available!

We can’t give gifts directly to Mary for the child Jesus, but we can assist the many brave women who have chosen life despite some of the difficulties they experience, and we can reinforce their joy in the child who comes as gift.

We have two wonderful sites in our archdiocese who assist women during their pregnancies, The Women’s Care Center, 1441 N. Farwell Ave., Milwaukee and Women’s Support Center, 2051 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee.

Both of these centers offer assistance to pregnant women, and they need our support. We can be proud as an archdiocese that these two centers represent us as support for women. I know that Mary would love to share her shower with these centers of life.

I propose that we bring our gifts to the Cousins Center, 3501 S. Lake Drive, St. Francis, this coming weekend Friday, Oct. 23 from noon to 7 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to support Mary’s Baby Shower.

I am asking that you generously drop off some disposable diapers; new or gently used infant or toddler clothes, no longer needed child car booster seats, or a monetary contribution (checks payable to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee with “Mary’s Baby Shower” in the memo line). The archdiocesan staff will distribute the donations to the two women’s centers.

I thought about going to the store and buying some disposable diapers but I was afraid a suspicious clerk might call the gossip columnist at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and I would find myself being asked some curious questions or that an industrious salesperson may think that I’ve made a mistake and substitute packages of “Depends” for the diapers.

So instead I will donate $250 knowing that it’s going to a good cause and will be used in whatever way will be helpful.

Over a year ago, our generous archdiocese donated over 200 bicycles and $2,000 to the St. Vincent de Paul Society to assist the poor.

Now we are turning our attention to pregnant women in need through a baby shower in honor of the Blessed Mother Mary.

We love life, we love children and we are thankful to women who have chosen to bring their children into the world.

The child born to Mary reminds us of God’s love for us and our responsibility to respect all life.