Six cloistered Catholic nuns, living nearly their entire lives praying behind the walls of an Alaska monastery, have embraced a new pro-life initiative.
The Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Anchorage recently completed an inaugural batch of tiny handcrafted baby booties for a local crisis pregnancy center. The center will give the miniature shoes to women facing unexpected pregnancies.
Just before Christmas, the nuns were approached with the project by a member of Catholic Men For Life, a pro-life men’s group based out of Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage.
Earlier, Peter Knox and several other members of Catholic Men for Life had visited the Community Pregnancy Center to learn how they might support its efforts to encourage and empower women to keep their unborn babies.
During the tour the men learned that along with providing counseling, parenting classes, sonograms, diapers, clothes and other baby accessories and resources, the pregnancy center also offers women a pair of delicately crafted baby booties when they resolve to keep their babies.
“It makes the reality of the life inside them very tangible, very real,” Knox said. “These are booties which their baby could wear someday.”
Upon learning of the outreach, Knox immediately thought of the cloistered nuns who are known locally for their skill in cooking and handicrafts.
This past December Knox visited the nuns to see if they would knit baby booties for the pro-life outreach. Within a couple weeks the first box of little shoes was ready for delivery.
Knox swung by Blessed Sacrament Monastery just before New Year’s to meet with Sister M. Evelia Alicia Martinez who handed over the miniature gifts along with a thank you card relaying the nuns’ appreciation for being asked to help.
Knox then drove the colorful little shoes several miles to the Community Pregnancy Center, where he met with Executive Director William Donovan.
Donovan said the baby booties program has existed for nearly 20 years and serves as a positive support for women who have just made a decision to keep their baby.
“It is a tangible reinforcement of a decision they just made,” Donovan explained in an interview at the pregnancy center “They realize that, ‘Wow, someday my child is going to put these on.’”
While the gift of shoes may seem a small token, Donovan said any gesture helps.
“We look for anything that will reinforce their decision to keep their baby,” he said. “Because they leave here and face circumstances of life, a boyfriend or even parents harassing them. The booties are just another reinforcement that life begins at conception.”
According to Donovan nearly 50 percent of the women who come to the pregnancy center are considering an abortion when they enter.
“But when they leave 90 percent or more choose life,” he said. “We pray hard and God gives us the opportunity to share. So we give these (booties) as a little gift and invite them back for an ultrasound.”
In one of the center’s consultation rooms there are several little wicker baskets filled with baby booties.
“It looks like we have a lot but we go through them,” Donovan said. “We’ll see sometimes 60-70 clients a month, just for pregnancy tests and 90 percent of those choose life, so our supply ebbs and flows.
The volunteer handiwork of various Alaskans keeps the booties in supply.
“We like stocking up,” Donovan said. “And God keeps us supplied.”
According to Knox, the nuns are “very agreeable” to continue doing their part.