BELMONT, N.C. (EWTN News) — Belmont Abbey College held a ground-breaking ceremony on June 20 to begin the building of a pregnancy center that will meet the needs of college-age women.
“Statistics showed that the most abortion-vulnerable population was the college-age population,” said Jeannie Wray, executive director of Room at the Inn, a Catholic nonprofit organization that will run the center. “I am looking at this as the next step in building a culture of life.”
At the ceremony, Belmont Abbey College’s president, William Thierfelder, said he hopes the center will raise the consciousness of the students at Belmont, helping them better understand what it takes to value every human life.
More than 200 people attended the event, including Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, David Bereit, national campaign director for 40 Days for Life, and Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life of America.
Wray told EWTN News on June 21 that these pro-life individuals and organizations “have known that we have been working toward this goal for several years” and have “been in our corner the whole way.” She described Belmont Abbey’s pregnancy center as “the first of many opportunities” for the pro-life movement.
The center, slated to open sometime within the next 12 months, will include a maternity wing and an after-care center. It will be open to both Christians and non-Christians and will accept women who are not students at Belmont Abbey.
The center will have the capacity for 15 women and their children to stay free of charge for two years. During those two years, the women will take classes in life skills and attend a nondenominational Bible study.
Room at the Inn has raised $2.2 million of the $3 million necessary for building and operations and hopes to complete its fundraising campaign within a year, in time for the center’s opening.
Women interested in utilizing the facility will undergo several weeks of counseling to discuss their goals and determine whether the center would be a good fit for them.
Room at the Inn’s board of directors first pitched the idea for the maternity center in 2001, after a report from Feminists for Life indicated a lack of resources for college students who are pregnant or parenting children.
Abbot Placid Solari, head of the Benedictine community at Belmont Abbey, joined Room at the Inn’s board of directors in 2001 and said the monks might be willing to donate land for the project. In 2004, after the development of a long-range plan, the abbot spoke with his fellow monks, who agreed “this was something they wanted to do.”
The monks donated the four acres adjacent to campus where the 10,000-square-foot center is being built. Abbot Solari described the donation as an opportunity for his community to show the importance of “putting your money where your mouth is.”
“We not only say that we believe in the sanctity of human life,” he told EWTN News, “but are willing to take a concrete action to support that and assist in that.”
Abbot Solari hopes the project “will inspire other colleges and universities to consider providing assistance to their students who find themselves pregnant without support.”