The Dominican Friars Partner with the Sisters of Life to Minister to Mothers in Crisis
By BlackFriars Staff
For over 20 years, the Dominican Friars have partnered with the Sisters of Life in ministering to women vulnerable to abortion, or who have given birth in the midst of crisis situations.
Fr. Joseph Martin Hagan, O.P., parochial vicar at St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena parish in Manhattan, has baptized, heard confessions, catechized, and performed marriages for mothers in the care of the Sisters.
“They’re in a situation where they need, in a particular way, the help of Jesus Christ, especially through the grace of the sacraments,” says Fr. Joseph, who employs a delicate pastoral approach. “In many cases, I may be the first priest they talk to, at least as an adult.”
In addition to mothers returning to the practice of the faith, some convert to Catholicism as a result of their decision to give birth. According to Fr. Joseph, “These women have realized that one of the greatest things they can be is a mother, and yet society told them not to become that. If the Catholic Church seemed oppressive or irrelevant before, they now recognize that we are one of the few groups willing to affirm the value of their motherhood, and not only affirm it abstractly, but actually serve them. That’s a powerful moment of evangelization.”
Fr. Joseph draws on his Dominican formation for this ministry, citing “the joy of St. Dominic in proclaiming God’s mercy” and incorporating the Rosary.
“The Rosary has a special role in proclaiming the dignity of motherhood. The early Dominicans proclaimed Mary’s divine motherhood to counter a heresy that dismissed the value of the body, even Christ’s body. The friars take seriously that we are a union of body and soul: both are good, made by a loving Father. This is a message that these women have not necessarily heard.”
While the friars provide sacramental and pastoral ministry, Fr. Joseph notes that it is the Sisters who bring the women into contact with the Church. “I’m just the alley- oop guy. They do the work, they throw up the big shot, and I just make sure it goes in the bucket.”