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Diocese of Wilmington unveils effort to help families after the loss of an unborn child: ‘Footprints’ ministry focus of Oct. 15 Mass

A boy is comforted during a session of Partners Around Loss through Support, or PALS, at Faithful Shepherd Catholic School in Eagan, Minn. Churches often are very helpful in offering grief assistance. Many parishes have support groups or other types of programs. (CNS photo/Dave Hrbacek, The Catholic Spirit).

The Diocese of Wilmington has announced a new ministry designed to assist families by providing resources after the loss of their unborn child, whether it was very recently or many years ago.

Called “Footprints Ministry,” it will aid mothers, fathers, couples, and families with support, education, and compassion by providing books, guidance, and other resources. Footprints, is a ministry of the diocesan Office for Marriage and Family Life, and will launch with a special Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Mass on Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Church in Wilmington.

“Being pregnant is supposed to be a time of joyful anticipation. But for the one in four women who experience a miscarriage at some point in their lives, or the one in 22 parents whose child is stillborn, quite the opposite is true,” said Eileen Gaus, who is coordinating the ministry for the diocese. “It can be hard for parents to find emotional and spiritual support. During Respect Life Month and National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, observed each October, the Diocese of Wilmington’s Footprints Ministry would like to change that by breaking the silence that frequently surrounds miscarriage and by providing resources to assist and support grieving families.”

Often, women who experience a miscarriage unjustly feel ashamed, responsible and don’t speak about the loss. They feel uncertain how to deal with the practical or emotional aspects of miscarriage. Men and other family members want to be supportive but they, too, grieve. Couples often remain silent as they privately endure their pain.

“For parents and families who have lost a child to miscarriage or stillbirth, the Catholic Church may be a great source of comfort, in part because, unlike secular culture, it always recognizes babies as treasured lives from the moment of conception,” Gaus said. “The new Diocesan Footprints Ministry acknowledges the sorrow of the parents and helps find answers and comfort by providing resources and guidance from the Catholic faith.”

“During the month of October, and specifically on Oct. 15, National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, we invite all members of our community of faith to mourn the loss of all unborn children and acknowledge the significance of each child, who is entrusted to the Lord for all eternity,” Gaus said.

The Mass will begin with a candlelight vigil, called “Wave of Light,” and provides an opportunity to join with bereaved parents, families, and friends around the globe to commemorate all babies who sadly died too soon. The public is invited attend the Mass. Reservations are requested before September 30 by visiting https://cdow.coursestorm.com/course/pregnancy-and-infant-loss-remembrance-day-mass. Those who cannot attend the Mass are invited to join the global Wave of Light by simply lighting a candle at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 15 and let it burn for at least one hour.

More information about the Diocese of Wilmington’s Footprints Ministry is available at www.cdow.org or by calling the Office for Marriage and Family Life at 302-295-0657.