Our Lady of the Wayside

Our Lady of the Wayside
Protect Expectant Mothers and Their Babies


Thursday 4 December 2014

Saint Gianna Molla, Brought to Sanctity Under the Mantle of Our Lady of Good Counsel

I was recently asked to speak about St Gianna Molla, widely seen as a patroness of expectant mothers, unborn children and difficult pregnancies. Researching St Gianna's life was fascinating and really helped me to appreciate this amazing woman. I have included some of my favourite bits of her life here, but there is so much I have left out, her truly Catholic childhood, her Catholic apostolates, her pro-life philosophy of medicine and the beautiful account her husband gives of their courtship and marriage. (Ladies, take note of who you meet on Marian Feast days!)
Gianna Molla once said, “If during the struggles to carry out our vocation, we should have to die, that would be the most beautiful day of our life.” And if you know any one thing about Gianna Molla, you probably know that she gave up her life to save the life of her unborn baby. A sacrifice like that doesn’t come out of nowhere, or out of a life lived selfishly. As much as any Mother may want to do everything to preserve the life of her child, it is never the less astoundingly heroic  to be able to choose this sacrificial path when the Mother has 3 other young children who will be left Motherless.

Both Gianna and her husband Pietro came from large Italian Catholic families. Gianna had a great love for the most vulnerable, the elderly, expectant Mothers and their babies, born and pre-born. She worked both as a GP and also as a paediatrician. As she saw medicine as an apostolate, it is unsurprising that she considered for some time the idea of becoming a medical missionary. Her elder brother, Fr Alberto, was a missionary doctor in the southern Amazon region of Brazil. And he was struggling with little resources and few volunteers to provide medical assistance to the local people. This idea was eventually ruled out for Gianna by the fact that her own health was not up to it and also that in the light of this, her confessor advised her that her vocation was Marriage. From then on she embraced this vocation to Marriage “quite deliberately” according to her husband.
Gianna and Pietro's meeting, courtship and engagement is a beautiful story in itself, deserving of a post of it's own. But the couple settled joyfully into a really Christian Marriage. Soon they had their first child Pierluigi in 1956, followed by Mariolina in 1957 and Laura in 1959. Each pregnancy was very difficult and in the third pregnancy she suffered from some kind of poisoning and was taken into hospital as an emergency case, but she made a full recovery. Two miscarriages followed this pregnancy, but, regarding these children as treasures in heaven the Mollas were not deterred from having more children.
Pietro said of Gianna's joy in her children,

Gianna was a joyful person, but when a child was born, her joy was full and perfect. Nothing was lacking. She was radiant. From the beginning of our Marriage she prepared herself with prayer to create the most welcoming, the most serene environment for our children.
Then there was the Consecration to Our Lady. We lived in Ponte Nuovo, and two minutes away was a chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel. At the end of each child’s baptism, at Gianna’s request, I read an act of Consecration to Our Lady of Good Counsel. Gianna was devoted to her, and I think that her final choices were brought to maturity in the shadow of the Madonna of Good Counsel. (You can find prayers to our Lady of Good Counsel here)

Then in September 1961, Gianna was diagnosed with a fibroid tumour in the womb it was non-malignant and after a seemingly successful operation, Gianna went home and carried on with the pregnancy. Normal medical practise could have removed the disease uterus and thus removed the threat to Gianna’s health, this would have resulted in an unintended side effect of the death of her child however and so Gianna had instructed the doctor instead to place the baby’s life before her own.

How fully she knew the risk she was taking, or when she knew it is unclear. But Pietro recalls

You so desired another child. You prayed and asked that the Lord would hear you. The Lord heard you, but this Divine Grace required the sacrifice of your life.

Many times you asked yourself whether you were a worry to me. You said that never as then did you need tenderness and understanding.

I heard not a word from you in all those long months about your awareness as a physician of what was ahead of you. Certainly, this was to keep me from suffering.

I watched you silently tidying up every corner of our house, every drawer, every dress, every personal object day after day as if for a long trip. But I did not dare to ask myself why.

Only a few days before the birth, in a firm and at the same time peaceful tone, with a profound gaze I have never forgotten, you declared to me: “If you have to decide between me and the baby, there is to be no hesitation. Choose the baby. I demand it. Save it!”

From that moment I, too, trembled and suffered with you.

He goes on to say:
“in your humility, and above all in the fullness of your trust in Providence, you were convinced that you were not committing an act of injustice towards our 3 children, because in that painful circumstance the one who had primary and indispensable need of you was the baby in your womb; and despite considering your duty to the upbringing of our children was no less serious than the duty of guaranteeing that they came to life after conception, you had complete trust in Providence regarding their education and their formation if the new pregnancy requested the sacrifice of your life.”

Indeed Gianna was fully aware of the sacredness of human life and had remarked,

              Woe to those young people who do not accept the vocation of Motherhood.

Of her own sacrifice she formally offered it to God saying

                “Yes, I have prayed so much in these days. With faith and hope I have entrusted myself in the Lord....I trust in God, Yes; but now it is up to me to fulfil my duty as a Mother. I renew to the Lord the offer of my life. I am ready for everything, to save my baby.”

Gianna’s last days in Pietro’s words,

Holy Saturday morning we had the incredible joy; the Divine gift of the child we awaited – Gianna Emmanuela.

A few hours later, your sufferings began, extraordinary, beyond your strength, sufferings which made you continually call on your Mother, who was already in Heaven.

You knew you had to die, and you felt the torment of leaving all our children who were so young, but you did not admit that to me.

When you took our little infant in your arms, you looked at her so affectionately, with a look that betrayed your unspeakable suffering at not being able to look after her, to raise her, to see her again.

But even in that moment there was no hint to me that you were afraid and much less certain you had to die. Only to Sr Maria Eugenia Crippa, ...did you say when you entered there;

                “Sister, here I am; I am here to die this time.”

And you said it – by testimony of Sr Maria Eugenia, “With a look of sorrow for the life you regretted leaving, but at the same time with calm. A true model of the heroic mother.” I remember everything you said to me Wednesday morning, with such a gentle serenity that it seemed almost other worldly:

                “Pietro, I’m cured now. Pietro, I was already over there and do you know what I saw? Someday I will tell you. But because we were so happy, we were too comfortable with our marvellous babies, full of health and grace, with all the blessings of heaven, they sent me down here, to suffer still, but it is not right to come to the Lord without enough suffering.”

This was and remains for me your testament of joy and suffering.

Then there were still greater sufferings.

You desired to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, at least on your lips, even Thursday and Friday, when you could no longer swallow the Sacred Particle. Beside you was a holy priest, Fr Olinto Marella.

The Lord could not attend to my weeping, my supplication, my prayers as I served Fr Marella’s Mass in the Hospital church, holding back my tears with difficulty. He could not attend to the prayers of our babies, of that holy priest, of our many dear ones who felt anguish for your life, as if you were a member of their own family. You repeated many times in your agony:

                “Jesus, I Love You, Jesus, I Love You.”

Wednesday evening you had asked to go back to our house. Saturday morning you came to your final agony.

Perhaps you, too, heard the voice of your babies, who were waking up in the next room. Almost at that very moment you went up to heaven with the saints.

Gianna’s canonisation was a first many times over she was the first married laywoman to be canonised, the first to have her husband and children present at her canonisation. She was the first canonised woman physician and the first canonised working mother, at a time when women with a professional career and young children were not so common.
Her husband Pietro died on Holy Saturday, the day Gianna Emmanuela was born, some 48 years later in 2010.
Her first miracle occurred in the hospital in Brazil where her brother, Fr Alberto worked, and where she had once dreamt of being a missionary.
Fr Alberto's cause for beatification has already been opened and there is a suggestion that Pietro Molla's cause also be examined.
Please support today's Mothers in difficult pregnancies who are tempted to abort by supporting the Good Counsel Network.
Clare McCullough

Monday 15 September 2014

My GCN-Leaving Obituary. Also published under the title, ‘An Honour? Seriously??’ by Charis Willey

If you have any inclination toward joining the Good Counsel Intern Programme Charis' blog should give you a picture of what it's like, warts and all!

 So, under intense pressure from Clare in the shape of threats to withdraw my good reference and just general messages every couple of days telling me to sit down and do it, and (most recently) the declaration that God told her I have to, I have sat down to write my leaving blog. Here it is, so grab a cuppa, kick back and relax, and read my scrawl!

   When I left Good Counsel Network, I was told by a member of staff who shall remain nameless that it had been a great honour for me to be there and that everyone had done very well to put up with me for all that time (that person knows who they are and I saw the perfect sign for them the other day which read: ‘The National Sarcasm Society: like we need your help’ ;) ), and that, in a nutshell, is the essence of my time at Good Counsel. It was indeed a great honour to stand outside abortion ‘clinics’ for hours on end in the blistering heat and freezing cold rain (Not simultaneously. Except sometimes). Oh, and did I mention to get shouted at by random passers-by? And ignored by most of the others?

   And I was humbled with joy at the honour of getting up at stupid o’clock in the morning to make the long journey from the intern house to the vigil in time for eight. And at participating in two 40 Days for Life campaigns where basically for a month and a half of your life you get almost no sleep, spend hours travelling to vigil sites, develop ear strain and thumb twitches from pleading with volunteers by call and text to come pray, develop abnormal eating patterns, and then you collapse at the end. Only to start a 'normal' (i.e.all-year-round  -ed) vigil again at eight the next day.
   And it was an honour to have to calculate whether you can actually afford to buy a coffee to get warm after a winter vigil shift because £60/week can disappear fast in London! (But the good news is I discovered that if you go to the same Pret often enough you get free coffee sometimes . J ) So what on earth possessed me to stay for a year, a whole nine extra months when I only came for three??

    Because it was an honour to get to walk mothers through a difficult time in their lives. To help mothers who have had abortions towards healing. And it was an honour to get to hold the babies who otherwise wouldn’t be there. To be a part of the story of people whose lives are going to change the world somehow just because they got the chance to live. It was an honour to get to daily Mass and Adoration. It was an honour to get to know people at the vigil, in the office, and even on their way into an abortion centre before they changed their minds, who I can honestly say are the most inspiring and amazing people I ever met or maybe ever will. It was an honour to be part of the Good Counsel family and forge friendships I know will last a lifetime.

   It was an honour to learn to love the rosary like never before—praying it for hours outside the ‘clinics’ each day and then the intern rosary in the evening changes you! It was an honour to live by faith when there was no money left and yet you knew that this was God’s work and somehow He was going to provide what was needed. And to grow in every way beyond what you thought you ever would by doing things you never thought you could (Organising and MC-ing for an event Lila Rose was speaking at, seriously?!). It was an honour in uncountable ways to be part of the mission at Good Counsel for a time and I know that it has changed me for the good in so many ways (and hopefully knocked years off my time in purgatory!).

   On the putting up with me front, well, I would have said it was the other way round..! But maybe I can’t really comment on the subject of putting up with myself from someone else’s point of view; it’s something slightly outside my range of experience. Maybe it’s because I was always late for everything… Or would start ‘just one more job’ as everyone was trying to close the office and go home for the evening… Or procrastinate endlessly about things… Or would grumble loudly about going to vigils…

    However, leaving such issues to one side, my three-months-that-became-a-year at Good Counsel is now over and I’m away doing other things. What did I actually achieve? Nothing that earth shaking; I just played a small part in a small organisation that’s saving lives one mother and baby at a time. Basically, I am a drop in the ocean, but, as Mother Teresa said, the ocean would be missing something without my drop. So yes, if you were wondering about going to a vigil or joining the intern programme, you should! It will be the hardest and best thing you ever do. So let’s all be drops that will build into a deluge and turn our country and our world PRO-LIFE! I can tell you, it is an honour.
For more information on joining the intern programme email us at fredathome2@yahoo.co.uk and see our website.


Thursday 27 March 2014

Humbled by a Six Year Old Boy & by a 24 week Pregnant Women‎

I once wrote in a blog post about counselling outside Whitfield Street abortion centre in the cold. Kicking my feet together to keep warm and feeling sorry for myself. I found myself being humbled when a‎ 'little old lady' arrived opposite the centre to pray, and promptly knelt down on the very cold pavement!

I was telling a few people that the 6-8am slot on the 24 hours a day, 40 Days for Life vigil in Ealing is one of the harder times to arrange for people to be there praying. I said, I'd even gone myself at that time couple of times. No sooner had I said this than a 24 week Pregnant women pipes-up and says, "Yes, I had to get up at 4am to get there on public transport to join my husband there at 6am, he'd already been there most the night." This just didn't make my jumping into the car at 5.30am sound half so good.

It was nice that after listening to a young Married Muslim couple talk about keeping their Baby, in spite of ‎genuine death threats from her Family, at the 'Cast the Vision' opening event, a six year old signed-up to be called to come and pray at the vigil. As he didn't have a mobile of his own, Charis, a Good Counsel intern telephoned his Mother on Friday. When he was put on the phone, he said he was quite busy on Saturdays with other activities, so he'd come on Monday for one and a half hours in the afternoon, as he does not have extra activities on a Monday! Very business like.

So just sign-up to pray in Ealing or at another 40 Days‎ for Life vigil or another Good Counsel vigil or even a Helpers of God's Precious Infants vigil. Just come along to help save lives & Souls.

Please donate to support the Mothers that choose Life for their Children.

Monday 27 January 2014

Fundraising Job Opportunity at Good Counsel

Guild of Our Lady

of Good Counsel

P.O. Box 46679, London NW9 8 ZT


Fundraising Co-ordinator Required

For March 2014           0.6 post  (hours negotiable)

Salary:  circa £25,000 (pro rata)


The Guild of Our Lady of Good Counsel, a Catholic charity, is a life-affirming women’s organisation which offers a free pregnancy test, free advice, medical information, practical help and moral support to women seeking abortion.

We offer women highly practical help and moral support which they may need to keep their child, from accommodation and financial help, baby clothes and nappies, to friendship, on-going support and advice as well as planning for the future. As a Catholic charity, staff at The Guild offer their time and work to Jesus through Mary.

Due to the high demend for our services, and the subsequent costs, we require a fundraiser who can focus on helping us to meet those costs.

We are looking for someone who is committed to the work of the charity and who has some experience of fundraising, including online fundraising. The successful applicant will have excellent communication skills and the ability to build and maintain good relationships with people from a wide variety of organisations.

Whilst based at our London office, there will be the opportunity for some working from home. Some unsocialable hours such as evenings and weekends may be involved.


For further information and an application form, or for an infomal discussion about the role, please email fredathome2@yahoo.co.uk. Closing date for applications:  1st March 2014

Join Us In Prayer And Fasting