On Jan. 22, Archbishop José Gomez joined health care leaders, mothers and babies to launch a digital “App for Life” to expand the Catholic Church’s care and concern for unborn children and their mothers.
In the ensuing months, more than 90 mothers have changed their minds and chosen life for their babies over abortion, thanks to the App for Life which offers resources, prayer and support to women and girls in crisis pregnancies. That is a notable statistic in a region where, according to the Guttmacher Institute, about 220 abortions happen daily.
“In a few months the App has become a tool of New Evangelization, transforming people through daily prayer into conscious, positive advocates for life,” said Kathleen Domingo, Life coordinator of the archdiocese’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace.
The App for Life video helps inspire people to join in prayer and support to women who are about to make a decision that will have a significant impact on their lives, said Domingo.
The Office of Life, Justice and Peace partnered with Options United, Pasadena-based nonprofit, on the App, available on smartphones and iPads by visiting www.appforlife.org. It lists services such as free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and post-abortion healing. App users, including friends and relatives of expectant mothers, are also just a click away to send a call for prayers to support pregnant women and girls in their decisions.
The video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBHHqcZELZU) was designed for use in parishes and Catholic schools, religious education, and youth/young adult ministry.
The Southern California region of the App includes 78 pregnancy centers in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and neighboring dioceses that include the Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Orange, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties. People, pregnancy centers and pro-life resources nationwide are invited to register.
Mother’s Day: Parish outreach
On Mother’s Day weekend, the archdiocese expanded its outreach via an App for Life video on the power of prayer and support for mothers. The video was presented at St. Peter Chanel Church (Hawaiian Gardens) and St. Louise de Marillac Church (Covina).
At St. Louise de Marillac, where a Mother’s Day Fair took place outside the church, the video was shown at the 8, 9:30, 11 a.m. and the 12:30 p.m. Masses on Mother’s Day. The reaction from parishioners was very positive, said Erika Vega, the parish Respect Life Ministry director (and flautist during many of the Masses), who presented the video.
“People are excited and want to get involved,” she noted. “People with baby items or who knit, and were asking, ‘How can I get involved?’ found that with the app they could find places for them to help out at or donate to. Others said they know someone in a crisis pregnancy and now they have this tool to find a center nearby.”
Parishioner Viana Wilson thought the most inspiring part of the video “was seeing the young mothers unable to decide what they wanted to do with their babies, and seeing them chose life for their beautiful babies. And I was also inspired to see that mother with her newborn baby and the life in the mother’s eyes when she is holding her baby.”
Wilson said she could use the app to pray for “those mothers who are indecisive, for them to get through being a mother and following through with their kids for the rest of their lives.”
“I think that being able to pray together is a great way to help save a life,” said Judy Rogano, who said she was particularly moved in the video by a girl “who said she had helped save a life — and she got the response back that the woman had made a choice for life.”
“Having the app is good for the family,” added Shirley Prescott. “I can see that when there is a crisis or someone in need, it reminds everybody to pray. And seeing the young children join in with their family is inspirational as well.”
After seeing the video, Zachary Gaul observed that in a “crisis baby matter,” a prayer is meaningful whether it comes from a few people or a lot. “Now that the Catholic Church is entering this new technological era with this app,” he said, “we are adding numbers to one specific thing, and I feel there is quality in quantity in this situation.”
“I think this app is going to be a great success,” said parishioner Gregory Lima. “Everyone has a smartphone today, and this is a very easy way for people to get involved and, at any point, drop what they are doing and pray for the person in need when they get a notification. Knowing that there is a way for all of us Catholic Christians to work together to bond in solidarity for any woman in crisis is so powerful.”
Robert Gil said the video motivated him, his wife and daughter to download the app to their phones, “so that whenever we get one of the notifications we can start praying for that individual and there might be something we can even do to help.”
The Mother’s Day Fair offered a prayer station to write a prayer for mothers, prayer cards for mothers, a children’s table, parenting resources, flyers on the services offered by the ministry, flowers for mothers with donations going toward the Respect Life Ministry and a section exclusively set aside to provide information on the new App for Life. A table from the St. Vincent de Paul Society reminded parishioners of their upcoming baby items collection, with donations going to a local pregnancy help center.
Vega said she looked forward to seeing fellow parishioners use the app, “especially knowing that we have people who know someone and is scared. And now we can pray together as a community and give them the support they need. So I truly am excited to see this and I hope that it grows in our parish.”
Victor Arenas and Mike Nelson contributed to this story.