Faced with an unexpected pregnancy and abandoned by her fiancé, Christina found help and support at a crisis pregnancy center.
Thanks to the Facebook page of the Mangiagalli “Help for Life Center” (abbreviated CAV, for name in Italian) in Milan—a center that helps pregnant mothers— we learn the story of Christina, a Ukrainian girl who was 11 weeks pregnant and whose boyfriend was pressuring her to have an abortion.
Christina didn’t want to abort their child, and despite the difficulties—she’s alone and jobless—she decided to end the relationship. “We lived together at his sister’s house. (…) I left, and he kept telling me that I had to have an abortion. I’ve asked a couple of friends for help, but they’ll only be able to take me in at the end of the month,” she told the CAV workers.
Christina had no one to rely on. Her family of origin is far away: her father is in Ukraine, her mother in France. They’re separated and have both built new lives and families. She didn’t know how she was going to support herself after having lost her job, and when she arrived at the Mangiagalli CAV she had in her hand the certificate required for the termination of pregnancy.
“(S)he was scheduled for surgery, but they saw she was shaken up and so they gave her a slip of paper hastily written in pen. They marked it, ‘staircase B third floor,’ telling her to try and see if we could help her.”
“Tell her we have a home for her and we will help her”
She was greeted by Antonella, a volunteer at the center, who immediately understood that Christina’s first need was to have a roof over her head. Antonella rushed to Soemia, the director, to try to help the young woman. She replied:
We have the vacant studio apartment, but you know we have to fix it. There are some things that don’t work: the sofa bed is broken, the kitchen needs to be fixed, and the bathroom’s also in bad shape, how can we do it? (…) In these cases we need to be prompt, creative and rely a little on Providence as well. After a few seconds I add, “Antonella (…) tell her we have a home for her and we will help her.”
The father insists on an abortion
Christina is very sad: she dreamed of a strong and united family, and she wanted to build a future together with her boyfriend. Instead, “he keeps calling me and insisting that I don’t keep this baby,” she told the CAV volunteers.
It can’t have been easy for Christina to abandon her plans, to give up the “dream” she had imagined for her life. However, when Antonella offered an apartment for her to stay in, she was happy and decided to go ahead with the pregnancy. Antonella was dealing with the obstacles: “I ordered a new sofa bed, and we’ll replace the washing machine that had broken. The biggest jobs were postponed. We’ll fix it up a little at a time.”
The unexpected phone call: a sign of God’s affection
But God’s plans are surprising; the Lord only needs our “yes” to flood us with his grace. The director of Mangiagalli CAV recounts:
Two days ago I got a totally unexpected phone call: “Dear Soemia, do you have a Ukrainian mother who needs help? We just decided to make a donation to you to support a project to help a Ukrainian mom, if that’s okay with you …”
“We need to be timely, creative and rely on Providence,” I think, and I smile to myself.
Relying on Providence
The Gospel of Matthew comes to mind:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:25-26)
The unexpected pregnancy and rejection by her fiancé had thrown Christina into despair. Who knows how much bitterness she must have felt hearing the man she loved saying words of death addressed to a her as she was carrying life in her womb. Her meeting with CAV volunteers gave her concrete hope that she could make it and allowed her to experience “the inner joy of motherhood.”
Pope Francis to expectant women: “Protect your joy”
With great affection I urge all future mothers: keep happy and let nothing rob you of the interior joy of motherhood. Your child deserves your happiness. Don’t let fears, worries, other people’s comments or problems lessen your joy at being God’s means of bringing a new life to the world. Prepare yourself for the birth of your child, but without obsessing, and join in Mary’s song of joy: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant” (Lk 1:46-48). Try to experience this serene excitement amid all your many concerns, and ask the Lord to preserve your joy, so that you can pass it on to your child. – Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia 171