Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Thursday, February 22, 2018

st-gerard-reopen 4203-a-webArchbishop Leonard P. Blair prepares to bless the recently reopened St. Gerard’s Center for Life pregnancy resource at 59 Eaton St., Hartford, on Oct. 31. At center of the photo is Christa Chodkowski, the center’s new executive director. Father John L. Lavorna, the archbishop’s secretary and assistant chancellor, looks on. (Photo by Jack Sheedy)

HARTFORD – On a bright, brisk Oct. 31 morning, Archbishop Leonard P. Blair rededicated St. Gerard’s Pregnancy Resource Center at 59 Eaton St., a division of St. Gerard’s Center for Life, which first opened its doors 10 years ago on Maple Street.

“It’s more urgent than ever that we as believing people do everything we can to support and sustain life from conception until natural death,” Archbishop Blair told about 40 volunteers, board members and guests before blessing them, the building and grounds.

Invoking Pope Francis and other popes, the archbishop said, “It’s not just a matter of saying what is right and wrong, but it’s also a matter of compassionate care and outreach to those who are in difficult situations, to those who are tempted to sin against the gift of life. And I think that we need to be vocal. We need to speak up in support of life, and we also need to support those who are in those difficult situations.”

He pledged his full support of the center as archbishop.

In his blessing, the archbishop said, “Heavenly Father, through the intercession of Saint Gerard, patron of expectant mothers, we ask you to bless and protect all those gathered here and all those who visit the St. Gerard Center for Life. May the ministry that comes forth from this center always radiate the light of faith and bring hope to those in need, so expectant mothers, their unborn children and their families continue to know and experience the love of God through the compassionate care offered by all those associated with this center.”

The center had been closed for several months while the board of directors searched for a new executive director, following the resignation of founding director Theresa Krankowski Borchetta. Since June, Waterbury native Christa Chodkowski has been the new director.

Mrs. Chodkowski praised the work of her predecessor and told the Transcript, “I thank God for allowing me to be an instrument in putting new light and new life to the center.”

In her public remarks, she said her position is more than a job. “It’s quite extraordinary. It’s not a job at all. It’s a ministry and a way of life.”

The board of directors president is Dr. Judith Mascolo, a pro-life physician in private practice in West Hartford. She has been medical director of St. Gerard’s since 2009. She joined the board of directors in 2013 and became its president later that year.

“About two years ago, I organized the Connecticut Catholic Medical Association Guild, so there are other Catholic pro-life medical people in the area,” she said.

St. Gerard’s Center for Life opened in 2004 at 22 Maple Ave., Hartford, as a support center for pregnant women and girls seeking alternatives to abortion. Support services were moved to 59 Eaton St. in 2010 to make room for an ultrasound machine, which, with major funding coordinated by the Knights of Columbus, was installed in the Maple Street location in January 2011.

Mrs. Chodkowski said, “We are so thrilled that in the coming months we will have the ability to reopen our ultrasonography services as a free confidential service to our women in the community who are not quite so sure about the future of the pregnancy that they are faced with. We are very very blessed to have that.”

Pregnancy testing will also soon be available.

Services now available at 59 Eaton St. include: ministry to clients facing crisis pregnancies or post-abortive situations; baby clothing, diapers and personal items for qualified clients enrolled in an Earn While You Learn program, which includes prenatal development classes, breastfeeding classes, responsible parenting, reproductive health and wellness, and life skills support; social service referrals for housing, education, material support, medical aid, and adoption for clients; baptismal and RCIA preparation for those clients interested; and school and community outreach and education.

St. Gerard's Pregnancy Resource Center is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on publicized Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Confidential, pro-life help with a pregnancy is available by calling 860-205-7178.