FALMOUTH — Successfully launched in October as “Be Courageous,” an unplanned pregnancy support group at Holy Martyrs Church in Falmouth is expanding with hopes of reaching even more people in need.

“We have many new volunteers who are helping with the expansion of a robust email distribution list to OB-GYN clinics, women’s health centers, community health centers, high schools, colleges, and other denominations,” said Kim Palli of the Parish of the Holy Eucharist, of which Holy Martyrs Church is a part. “There is a lot of new energy.”

And a new name. The group is now titled “Walking with Moms in Need,” a nationwide initiative that increases support for pregnant and parenting mothers facing difficulties. The initiative, initially launched by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in March of 2020, is inspired by Pope St. John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life).

“Holy Martyrs Church will continue to be the venue for open houses that will be held on the last Monday of each month, including Feb. 28 and March 28 from 4-7 p.m.,” said Palli. “People of all faiths or no faith are encouraged to drop in at any time. The Route 7 bus from Portland has a stop at the Town Landing Market right across the street from Holy Martyrs and comes by every hour.”

Participants will have the opportunity to hear from a variety of people who have dealt with the very same decisions and situations they might be confronting now, including a birth mom who experienced adoption, a woman who chose abortion, and a birth mom who opted to parent. Representatives from several local organizations that are committed to providing resources to women in need will be in attendance at each meeting, including Adoption Solutions of Maine, which assists women who are either pregnant or want to adopt and provides in-person assistance as well as confidential guidance via phone, text, or email; Mother Seton House, an organization based in Fryeburg that provides education, counseling, and other support services for pregnant women and new mothers; and ABBA, a free, medically certified pregnancy resource center in Portland that offers pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and education that allows women to make empowered choices for themselves and their futures.

Those unable to attend one of the monthly meetings in Falmouth or who would like to speak with team members individually and confidentially are invited to reach out at any time by calling (207) 847-6885 or emailing kim.palli@portlanddiocese.org.

“It was immediately successful. We had a young, single mom and a young pregnant mom reach out for guidance,” said Palli. “We have discovered there are so many varied needs and questions and have expanded our ‘toolbox’ and coaches in multiple areas such as career counseling, parenting classes, social workers, and lawyers.”

The group is guided by a simple Pope Francis quote, that parishes need to be “islands of mercy in the midst of a sea of indifference.”

“Everyone should know there is a place for them to go for help,” said Palli. “Everyone in the community should know where to refer a pregnant woman in need.”

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities is providing resources on how to implement “Walking with Moms in Need” at the parish level, including a guide on how to get started, sample timelines, announcements, prayers, activities, and more. While each parish will participate in its own unique way, a basic framework is provided which can be adapted to each local church’s needs. To access the resources, visit www.walkingwithmoms.com.