Last week, Maggie’s Place joined together with Catholic Charities Community Services and the City of Phoenix to celebrate the opening of our newest home, The Gerard House.
One of the morning’s highlights, in addition to meeting some of the moms and seeing their excitement, was a blessing from Bishop Thomas Olmsted. The Bishop warmly greeted the moms and visitors, toured the new facility and offered a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing over the building and each apartment.
He said that The Gerard House and its 11 units for moms and babies is an answer to our prayers. He spoke of the love of a mother before a child is even born. “The sacrifice of a mother is her own self while a child is in the womb.” He added, “This house and all the work that’s done by Maggie’s Place, is an example of God’s love.”
“The St. Gerard Apartments is a complex of eleven, one-bedroom apartment units located in Phoenix. This property will allow moms to continue to use the Maggie’s Place Family Resource Center, along with providing families with coaching services, life skills, and parenting classes,” says Julie Carlberg, Chief Program Officer.
After successful exit from one of Maggie’s Place’s homes, The St. Gerard Apartments will be a unique extension of the traditional Maggie’s Place homes. The complex will provide a safe and supportive home to women who are reunifying with their children and aid each family in meeting their physical, mental and emotional needs. The model combats the effects of trauma by providing basic needs assistance (access to medical, food, and income benefits), mental/behavioral health services, access to education and parenting programs, and child enrichment activities. Other than a modest monthly rent, all services will be free and provided 24/7, 365 days per year.
Why St. Gerard? Gerard Majella (1726-1755) is known popularly today as “The Mothers’ Saint.” Why would a man be the saint for mothers, mothers-to-be and those wanting to be mothers? The story says that St. Gerard was leaving the home of some friends and he forgot his handkerchief. One of the daughters tried to give it back to him and he told her to keep it as it might be useful to her one day. The family kept it as a souvenir. Years later, the girl was in danger of dying while giving birth. She called for the handkerchief Gerard had given her. The danger passed and she delivered a healthy child.
We are thankful not just for St. Gerard but for all he represents through mothers and mothers-to-be. And we are blessed that now there are even more options for helping the moms and babies at Maggie’s Place. Thank you Catholic Charities Community Services, The City of Phoenix and Bishop Olmsted for your dedication to the mothers of our community.