By Sr. Carol De Angelo
Her name and face I cannot remember but her story haunts me! A colleague from another agency called me. Would I see a young mother struggling with a difficult life decision? She was involved with another agency, but he thought it might be good for her to have a conversation with me, a Catholic nun.
I’ll call her Annunciation. Annunciation was a mother of a three-year-old living with the father of her unborn child but not the father of her three-year-old. She was a Catholic and didn’t want to have an abortion. She knew it was wrong. She had been adopted and had had a very bad experience. She said her adoption experience left her feeling unloved and alone. She wouldn’t want a child of hers to experience what she had experienced. She couldn’t do that to her unborn child.
Adoption was not an option for her though we spent a long time discussing its pros and cons. What could she do? What were other options? A young mother, no support system, living with the father of her unborn child who didn’t want children. We talked at length. She spoke of her fear that her boyfriend would leave her, that she would be left to raise two children living on her own. She couldn’t do it. She couldn’t even raise her living son by herself.
She spoke of her fear of going to hell because she was committing a mortal sin. It seemed her sense of being unloved was reinforced because of her belief in a God of punishment rather than a God of Understanding, Mercy and Forgiveness.
I tried to tell her about the God I knew – a God who would be there for her during this difficult time, a God who loved her unconditionally, a God who would not abandon her. Yet, her fears led our conversation to her questioning who would be there to support and help her financially and emotionally? Who would be there to provide for the basic needs, security, housing, food? What life giving option shall I choose – don’t have an abortion and bring my child into this world…have an abortion and give my living son security, food, housing?
We did talk about sin, choice, conscience. As I reflect on this conversation over forty years ago, I wonder how she is. I wonder what choice she made. I wonder should I have offered to adopt the child, even if it meant leaving the Convent. I know this sounds ludicrous but some religious have done just that. How does one choose life when life giving options seem futile and nonexistent?
Over the years, my ministry has allowed me to address the systemic injustice so many children, women, and men face, especially for food, housing, job, and health security. Jesus says in the gospel of John, “I have come that you may have life and live it to the fullest.” May we all seek ways to accompany and journey with our sisters and brothers in need as we advocate together for just respectful transparent welcoming systems and structures, policies, and laws. May we grow in our understanding of and commitment to the common good by addressing social sin and social conscience so more lifegiving choices are available!
December 30, 2021