Nationwide calls for prayer that the Supreme Court will overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision have been echoed in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, as the archdiocese also looks to expand prayer ministry options for pregnant and post-abortive women.
In response to the recent leak of the draft Supreme Court decision, the subsequent protests and attacks on Catholic churches and pro-life centers, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore released a joint statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) instructing Catholics to pray the Rosary on Friday, May 13. Archbishop Gomez is the president of the USCCB; Archbishop Lori leads the conference’s pro-life committee.
“In the midst of current tensions, we invite Catholics around the country to join us in fasting and praying the Rosary on Friday, May 13, the Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima,” they said.
The bishops requested that people pray not only for the conversion of those who advocate for abortion but for the country and that the government will “be dedicated to seeking the common good and protecting the dignity and rights of the human person, from conception to natural death.”
On May 10, in his weekly communication to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki reiterated the need to pray for these conversions.
“We must also pray to change the minds and hearts of our society, so that life is affirmed from conception to natural death,” he said. “As we are vilified by our critics like the Apostles, let us be proud that God has seen fit for us to stand for life and profess our faith to love one another.”
Archbishop Listecki wrote that while the decision in the Supreme Court is presently unknown, what is known is that the Church “will always be pro-life” and “we will be pro-women.”
“We must work always to make sure women understand they have options that allow them to support the life of (the) child they bear,” he said.
Among the ways the archdiocese is working to assist women during pregnancy is a series of new prayer and charitable initiatives — regardless of whether abortion is declared illegal in the state.
While Wisconsin is one of several states to have a pre-Roe ban on abortion still on the books, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said in December 2021 that he would not enforce this ban.
Whatever the Supreme Court eventually decides in the case, and whatever happens in Wisconsin, there will be numerous Masses and Holy Hours throughout the archdiocese immediately following the decision.
“Regardless of the decision in the Dobbs case, priests and deacons will be holding Masses and Holy Hours shortly after the decision is officially made public,” Dcn. Jim Matthias, the director of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s Respect Life Ministry, told the Catholic Herald.
Dcn. Matthias added that these Masses and Holy Hours “are not celebratory,” should the Supreme Court rule in favor of Dobbs, but “will ask for God’s mercy in lieu of the 63 million lives lost to abortion.”
Project Rachel, a nationwide, diocesan-based program that assists those who have been involved with abortion, will soon be making a return to the archdiocese, said Dcn. Matthias.
“We are in the final stages of bringing back Project Rachel to the archdiocese,” he said. “The program offers counseling, healing and forgiveness to women and men who are struggling with the aftermath of abortion.”
Further, Dcn. Matthias hopes to expand the Elizabeth Ministry and Hearts of Hope, two existing programs in the area. Hearts of Hope is a ministry for both men and women who have experienced miscarriage or infant loss, whereas the Elizabeth Ministry’s work is “designed to honor life, cherish children, encourage families, uplift the sanctity of marriage and build community.”
Dcn. Matthias also hopes to do a twice-yearly Mass for the parents of unborn children, celebrating the Rite of Blessing a Child in the Womb, a blessing approved by the Vatican in March 2012.
“We want to utilize this blessing during Mass twice a year for blessing babies while still in their mother’s womb,” he said. “It serves two purposes: to bless the babies and their families, and to reinforce parishioners’ beliefs that even life in the womb has sanctity and dignity.”
“If Roe v. Wade is overturned, abortion will be illegal in Wisconsin and more women will be keeping their babies,” said Dcn. Matthias.
“Our work does not end when the baby is born, never did and never will. These programs and groups will help support moms and their babies in so many ways that Planned Parenthood never does.”