It was at the beginning of the first lockdown last year, in the middle of a conversation with Gianna Molla, St Gianna’s daughter, that an inspiration struck Dame Colleen Bayer, DSG.
Dame Colleen and her husband Terry had been taking in pregnant girls at their home for the past 30 years, and it was becoming obvious that they couldn’t be doing this any longer.
On the other hand, she came to a realisation that she could not retire when so many desperate mothers need help.
“[It was during] that phone call that day, I spoke to Gianna Molla, that great inspiration came. Just do it. Just do it,” she said.
“It” is the establishment of St Gianna’s Home for Mothers and Babies, which opened last year at a rented house in Mt Eden, after consultation with the Family Life International board.
On May 12, 2021, St Gianna’s Home moved to a permanent address in Pukekohe. The seven-bedroom house was blessed by Auckland Auxiliary Bishop Michael Gielen.
“I went to see Bishop Pat [Dunn] at the beginning of the year. And we had a very heartfelt conversation. And I talked to him about a home,” Dame Colleen said. “Bishop Dunn was so gracious and so understanding, that he immediately asked (Auckland diocese general manager) James van Schie to contact me.”
Mr van Schie said the diocese helped ensure that Family Life international got the property, using the diocese’s balance sheet.
“It’s quite prophetic the work that they’re doing. There are not a lot of Government-funded organisations doing this kind of work. And they had themselves proven the concept,” he said.
“This important apostolate and very Catholic outreach can be a lighthouse here in this part of our diocese and beyond,” he added.
Dame Colleen said they have had two ladies move in, and there is a third on their waiting list. She said they do not have a list of criteria that needs to be ticked before helping a pregnant mother in a difficult situation.
“I think in terms of every mother. Every pregnant woman is different. Their own personal circumstances are different and individual,” she said. “It is very important to me to listen . . . to their story, and to have the empathy and embrace what their personal circumstances are. So, we must make an individual plan for each mother,” she explained.
Dame Colleen added that the home’s role in saving babies from abortion had become more important as the new and radical abortion law came in.
“We are in dire straits as a nation. Even if things seem hopeless, and the abortion rates go up, we have to stand with Christ in Calvary. We have to protect innocent children and try to give them the very best start in life, and to give their mothers hope and a purpose,” she said.
Dame Colleen said St Pope John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae, the Gospel
of Life, is interwoven in the “very fabric of my life”.
“I do this, and I probably will do it [whether] in consultancy or mentoring, whatever way,” she said. “Just being there and loving the girls.”
For further details and information please visit www.fli.org.nz