“It was exactly what I needed to do.”
How helping became healing.
by Kit Cross
“I feel like God was putting me in the place I needed to be at that moment,” says Katherine Somok, a parishioner at St. Jerome Catholic Church in Hyattsville. Pro-Life work was not ever a direction in which Somok felt pulled, but the tug to become a Gabriel Network Angel Friend came at the right time for both her and a family in need.
Having just experienced a miscarriage herself, Somok agrees that being able to help another family was healing. “It was right before Christmas that I got the call to work with [the mom in need]. At that time I was a little overwhelmed … but it was exactly what I needed to do,” recalls Somok.
At the start of the year, Somok put the word out to the Hyattsville community that donations were needed for a mom due with twin boys in March. She didn’t have to wait long for a response.
“In this community it is just so easy to get stuff for babies and for families,” said Somok of the number of donations that arrived. “I think [the mom] was surprised by just how quickly we gathered items. She asked for things and then they’d show up.”
It was a blessing, too, that the response for donations came in quickly because those twin boys were not going to wait. “January was a whirlwind,” said Somok, “I met her on January 1st and then she had her babies like 2 or 2 ½ weeks later. She was at least three months early.”
As of the writing of this article, the first-time mom and dad are still waiting to bring their baby boys home from the hospital while they continue to grow. Not only are those two little boys in their infancy, but it can also be said that the Gabriel Network ministry at St. Jerome is in its infancy. The ministry, which had previously been active at the parish, got a new jump start in the fall of 2016. Over 100 parishioners have signed up to give of their time and talents. They’re filling a wide-range of roles: from Angel Friends (a direct contact for the mom in need) to prayer partners, auto mechanics, and seamstress.
“It gives everyone a channel through which they can do something with their own pro-Life convictions,” says Lillian Hendricks, Angel Friend Coordinator for St. Jerome. The Gabriel Network is set up in such a way that no matter your skill set or schedule, there is always a way you can assist.
Recently, young women from the parish’s Junior Ladies of Charity “swung” into action by hosting a swing dance fundraiser for Gabriel Network, which raised over $500. Earlier this year, Somok’s husband, Kevin, a theology teacher, got his high school involved as well. Students at Don Bosco Cristo Rey High School in Takoma Park, MD were part of a diaper drive that brought in 50 boxes of diapers for parents in need.
If an individual or a parish is looking to volunteer with Gabriel Network, Hendricks says, “It’s not complicated. They provide a structure so that individuals can befriend mothers and help meet their needs, and I’ve really experienced the network aspect of it. … They effectively tap into the gifts and talents of people.”
For more information on getting connected with Gabriel Network individually or through your local parish, contact Laura Kaplan at 1-800-ANGEL-OK, ext. 307.