Many of you may know the story of an Italian woman named Gianna Beretta. She was born in 1922 and died in 1962. In 1949 she earned a medical degree and became a pediatrician. A few years later she married a man named Pietro Molla, and shortly thereafter had three children. After suffering 2 miscarriages, she became pregnant with their fourth child. However, early in the pregnancy she developed a fibroma and was told she should abort the child and have a hysterectomy in order to save her own life. Of course, the doctors also offered the possibility of removing the fibroma, but they would give no assurance that she and/or the child would survive. She chose the latter and eventually gave birth to her daughter, whom she named Gianna Emanuela. Despite what appeared to be a success, she died of septic peritonitis seven days after giving birth.
So often today there are those who would not hesitate in sacrificing their child to save their own lives. While there are always risks involved in medical procedures, the Church teaches that protecting innocent human Life should take the top priority. Gianna allowed her Catholic faith to guide her decision and chose life for her daughter while understanding the risk to her own life. Shortly after her death her cause for canonization began. She was beatified in 1994 and needed a miracle attributable to her intercession to be canonized. In 2003, Elizabeth Comparini suffered a tear in her placenta at 16 weeks and prayed to Blessed Gianna to spare her child who was given no chance of survival. Much to the surprise of her doctors, Comparini delivered a healthy baby despite the lack of amniotic fluid throughout the pregnancy. St. Gianna was canonized on May 16, 2004 and is considered the patron saint for mothers, physicians, and unborn children.
St. Gianna’s story has been an inspiration for many gynecologists and pediatricians who see the value in remaining faithful to Church teaching in the area of fertility and maternity care. This inspiration has led these doctors to research alternatives to mainstream Fertility Care, which often turns immediately to immoral practices that treat symptoms rather than treating the whole person. Their research has led them to offer completely natural methods for aiding couples with regard to fertility, both in avoiding conception as well as achieving it. These methods are 100% scientific, 100% faithful to Catholic teaching, and have achieved high success rates. Last year Catholic Health Services of Long Island opened a Gianna Center that practices these forms of medical treatment.
To help spread the word of this excellent center, next weekend I have invited Fr. Dan McCaffery to preach at all the Masses. Fr. Dan is part of an organization called NFP Outreach and he travels the country spreading the Good News about Catholic Fertility Care. I have also invited Dr. Paul Carpentier and his team from the Gianna Center to be present after all the Masses to say a few words and answer questions you may have. In addition, Dr. Carpentier plans on giving a more detailed presentation and holding a question and answer session following the 11:00 AM and 12:30 PM Masses. Please plan on attending one of these sessions as this is your opportunity to find out more about this completely natural and healthy form of Fertility Care.
Finally, I ask that you please keep Fr. McCaffery and the staff of the Gianna Center in your prayers. The work they do is difficult and requires a great deal of energy and patience. I will be offering prayers for all of you and hope you will be enlightened by the presence of these wonderful Catholic professionals.