Aleshia Faulstich, Staff Writer
Through my work with Notre Dame Right to Life and in my home community, I have come to understand that the term “pro-life” is more than just an adjective; it is a way of life. In descriptive terms, we believe that all life, from the newly conceived child in the womb to the elderly grandparent in the wing of the hospital, should be protected and cherished. This belief constitutes the entirety of the pro-life movement. We are called to more than mere belief, however; we are called to action.
My commitment to the protection of life is exactly what sent me 2,100 miles away from home this summer. For eight weeks, I was blessed to immerse myself in the community of Casa Teresa, a home and safe place for women in crisis pregnancies in Orange, California. During my Summer Service Learning Program, I lived with and learned from some of the most amazing women I have ever encountered. These women came from all walks of life: Some lived on the streets, many struggled with drugs and most came from broken families. They were pregnant, scared and alone. No one story was the same, but together we were a family, a community marked by love and solidarity.
During this experience, I helped with everything imaginable. My site partner and I worked in administration, planned a huge baby shower, cleaned rooms, babysat and, most importantly, provided a ministry of loving presence. The mothers learned to trust us and we quickly became friends. It was because of this trust that two mothers welcomed us to be present during the births of their babies. Although I was afraid of being inadequate, the knowledge that I could support them during this vulnerable and beautiful moment in their lives calmed my anxiety.
On June 23, I watched the doctor place a perfect baby boy on his mother’s chest and, tears filled my eyes. I was overwhelmed with joy—this is exactly what I am fighting for; I am fighting to protect moments like this, where women who have once felt hopeless and abandoned are renewed by unconditional love. This moment, and the joy that filled this new mom’s face, ensured me that our work is necessary. A few days later, I asked our new mother how she was feeling when she came home from the hospital. She said, “It’s hard and I am really tired, but he’s worth it.” These beautiful words will stick with me forever.
I cannot claim to know what the mothers from this summer have gone through or where they are coming from because I have never been in their shoes. I have never lived their lives or felt their pain. I have no idea what it is like. However, my immersion this summer assured me that we must continue on this journey as a community of action. The women and families in crisis pregnancies are not asking for solutions to all of their problems; they are seeking love and support. These amazing women are not asking us to understand what their lives have been like, they are just asking us to enter into their situations in solidarity. They are asking for our hands to hold and our feet to walk with them on their journeys.
Here at Notre Dame, we are a pro-life community and we are living out this adjective every day. We are committed to building a society where families are supported and life is celebrated. Evangelium Vitae tells us that “it is therefore a service of love which we are all committed to ensure to our neighbour, that his or her life may be always defended and promoted, especially when it is weak or threatened.” In addition to protecting the unborn child, we are called to support families in crisis pregnancies. It is not enough to call oneself pro-life; one must actively be pro-life. Together as a community, as a family at Notre Dame, let us come together in love to support our brothers and sisters. Let us walk together and show others that we can build a culture of life here on campus and throughout the world.
Aleshia Faulstich is a junior theology major with minors in CST and PSIM. Her dream after graduation is to own a baby emperor penguin. If you share the same admiration for these flightless friends, send her an email at email@example.com.