Ultrasound Initiative: Donations Bring State of the Art Equipment to Lebanon & Wapakoneta
by Eileen Connelly, OSU
Shortly after an ultrasound machine was installed at Elizabeth’s New Life Center’s (ENLC) Women’s Center in Lebanon, the staff performed a scan on a young woman with no support who was fearful of going through her pregnancy alone. While receptive to the center’s services and discussion of her options, she hadn’t ruled out abortion. During follow- up visits, she gained trust, and a second ultrasound gave her the opportunity to see how the baby was growing. In the meantime, she reconnected with the baby’s father, who joined her for an appointment and committed to being there for her and the child. When they left, abortion was no longer a consideration and the parents’ focus was the baby’s welfare and appropriate pre-natal care.
This lifesaving change of hearts was possible through the generosity of parishioners at St. Margaret of York (SMOY), dedication of the parish’s Respect Life ministry, and the Knights of Columbus Council 13429. The Knights’ Ultrasound Initiative, launched in 2009, provides ultrasound machines to qualifying pregnancy help centers around the country.
Spearheading the effort was Erin Flege, SMOY’s Respect Life coordinator for nearly 11 years. “We’ve always been a very pro-life parish and have had such great support from our pastors, including our current pastor, Father Jason Bedel,” she explained. “We’re involved in a variety of projects, such as sponsoring prayer days during 40 Days for Life and partnering with Old St. Mary’s Pregnancy Center in Over-the-Rhine to provide monetary and material donations.”
Flege was already aware of the Knights’ national Ultrasound Initiative and was compelled to act on the local level, so she brought the idea to Father Bedel after last year’s March for Life in Washington, D.C. Because the parish already had a working relationship with ENCL, the ministry was a natural choice to receive an ultrasound machine.
On Memorial Day weekend 2019, Flege and Chris Chalifoux, representing the Knights, spoke at every Mass. As they discussed the initiative, Flege, a mother of eight, shared footage from one of her own ultrasounds. The response from the parish was overwhelming, with the results from a raffle and loose donations yielding more than $27,000. Combined with matching funds from the Knights, a much-needed machine was purchased for ENLC, with money to spare.
After exploring various options and consulting with Bob Wurzelbacher, director of the archdiocesan Office for Respect Life Ministries, the additional funds purchased a machine for the Family Life Center of Auglaize County (FLCAC) in Wapakoneta. Father Bedel blessed FLCAC’s machine and prayed for the women who would seek assistance on July 25.
Both centers “were just elated and very, very grateful,” to receive the equipment, Flege said. “If we can save just one life, it’s worth it. We pray that through our efforts and the generosity of the SMOY parishioners, hearts will be changed and lives will be saved for generations yet to be seen.”
Alisa Manion, manager of the Lebanon center, spoke of the new ultrasound machine’s impact on their ministry. “It’s certainly an asset to our medical staff members, with the ease of scanning and all of the bells and whistles,’’ she said. “It gives all of the staff members a state of confidence and many tools to provide as much information as possible. The bottom line:
Having the tools to provide state of the art information in a professional setting, and a plan to meet, follow up and provide love to our clients, can make huge different in an outcome.”
The success of the Ultrasound Initiative at SMOY is personally gratifying for Flege because of her own experience with pregnancy and motherhood. “With every child I’ve carried, I feel that it’s the one moment that I can understand the mind of God,” she said. “You just love that baby so completely, without knowing what the future holds, how the child will turn out. In that moment, nothing matters else matters except how much you love them.”
Respect Life issues “weigh heavy on my mind,” she added. “When women consider abortion as the only option, it breaks my heart. They are women who need our love, not our judgment, and everyone has a role to play in promoting a culture of life, whether it’s as a prayer warrior or donating financially. Everyone’s gifts matter and there is much work to be done.”
This article appeared in the October edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.