Archbishop Vigneron baptizes six for Mary’s Mantle

13-Baptism

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron baptizes an infant Feb. 8 at St. Anastasia Parish, Troy, as part of the Mary’s Mantle residential program for expectant and new mothers.

Troy — Saying he admires “very, very much” the work of the volunteers and the sacrifice of mothers who are part of Mary’s Mantle, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron baptized six children Feb. 8 at St. Anastasia Parish, Troy.

The children baptized — five infants and one 7-year-old boy — were those whose mothers had been part of Mary’s Mantle, a Catholic residential program that provides a “safe haven” for expectant and new mothers who have fallen on hard times.

The archbishop told those gathered — about 100 volunteers, family and well-wishers — that if anyone can value their children, it’s those at Mary’s Mantle.

“From what I’ve heard and reports I’ve received from those who are part of Mary’s Mantle, it would be hard for me not to understand how much you appreciate the lives of your children,” he said.

Beth Collison, interim executive director and one of the founders of Mary’s Mantle, said it isn’t a requirement for resident mothers to be Catholic, but that it was by grace that four of the mothers had expressed a desire for their children’s baptisms at the same time.

But, she clarified, “faith is a big part of what is taught and what we do in the home,” adding that dozens of volunteers help out in various capacities, including a live-in “house mother.”

Mary’s Mantle opened in 2010 as a home in Southfield for homeless expectant mothers, who can stay for as long as a year.

“During that time, we work with them on addressing the issues that led to their homelessness and help them get back on their feet and prepare them for being a mother. And all of this is done through Christ’s name,” Collison said.

It was in 2009 that the idea for Mary’s Mantle began, Collison said. She was working in a Catholic bookstore when a young mother came in. “She was pregnant and her father had kicked her out,” Collison said. “I was trying to look for a place for her to go, and I couldn’t find her a home. She left that day with the understanding that she would come back and I would do more research while she stayed with a friend. She never came back, and she opted to have an abortion.

“The day I met with her, she had an ultrasound picture, and she was not an abortion-minded person. She clearly acted out of desperation, and it truly opened my eyes to the fact that we have the ability and resources and there are so many people willing to help to provide for these women,” Collison said.

Beyond spiritual and emotional guidance, Mary’s Mantle also helps with temporal needs. Abby, who has been a resident for just three months, said the staff has helped her pay off old debts, as well as look for work and housing. For confidentiality reasons, The Michigan Catholic is not reporting Abby’s last name.

“It’s been a true blessing. Everyone who works there is amazing,” said Abby, whose son Barrett was among those baptized by the archbishop. She said she had planned to put Barrett up for adoption before learning about the program.

“It’s very, very family-oriented,” Abby said of the atmosphere at Mary’s Mantle, adding that the volunteers, staff and residents often eat and socialize together in the home. “They’re all so loving of the babies and us; it’s wonderful. All of us mothers call each other ‘Aunt Abby’ or ‘Aunt Jennifer.’”

Fr. J.J. Mech, pastor of St. Anastasia and chaplain for Mary’s Mantle, said none of it would happen without the dedication and support of volunteers and staff.

“You’re being the salt of the earth and the light of the world,” Fr. Mech told them shortly before the baptisms. “You’re representing our Lord, the body of Christ, which is what we all should be about.”

Mary’s Mantle

To learn more or to volunteer with Mary’s Mantle, call (248) 376-5338 or email [email protected]. Donations can be sent to P.O. Box 115, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303-0115.