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Annunciation Maternity Home has had many providential connections to the feast of the Annunciation in the last decade. It’s nonprofit status approval was granted on March 25, and every year a baby has been born on that day or the night before.
BY Joseph Pronechen
Ten years ago
when Christie Aaronson answered a Gabriel Project hotline, a pregnant teen
asked for reasons not to have an abortion. Christie later met with the teen,
who wanted to keep her baby but said, “When we leave this place, where will I
go?” Her parents didn’t want anything to do with her; neither did her boyfriend.
“That’s what put it into our hearts:
We needed to find a place where these young women can live to have their
babies,” says Christie’s husband, Deacon Michael Aaronson.
They co-founded Annunciation
Maternity Home in Georgetown, Texas, in 1999.
The Aaronsons have no doubt God is
behind Annunciation. Following much prayer, the $85,000 down payment for the
property arrived unexpectedly: Old debts owed Deacon Aaronson’s business were
paid to the tune of exactly $85,012. The home’s nonprofit status approval was
granted March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, which celebrates the angel
Gabriel coming to Mary to tell her she would be the Mother of God. Their first
teenager gave birth on March 25, 2001, and every year since a baby has been
born on that day or the night before.
Maternity Home is the only licensed long-term home of this kind in central
Texas and the only one whose clients are young teenagers (the average age is
15). Annunciation, which is home to 17 girls and their children, gets more than
55 calls a month from young girls seeking assistance.
Annunciation is unique in several
ways — from its location to its focus on education and spirituality and its
commitment to the girls, who can stay two years with their babies once they’ve
The home is an oasis for the young
mothers, many of whom come from extreme situations, such as rape and sexual
“Immediately you feel peace and
God’s presence,” says the director of development, Tod Stehling, of the quiet
five-acre setting not far from Austin. “It’s a tranquil place to be for girls
to focus on themselves and their relationship with God, with their babies, and
the peace they’ve never had in their life before.”
Last November Annunciation’s
Education Center and Learning Lab opened. It was blessed by the home’s longtime
friend and supporter from the Austin Diocese, Msgr. Michael Mulvey, who will be
installed as bishop of Corpus Christi on March 25. (Another major supporter of
the home is former Austin Bishop Gregory Aymond, now archbishop of New
The education center includes a
University of Texas Charter School where the girls complete high school while
their children are looked after at the child
development center. Classes also provide training in good parenting and many
other skills, from balancing a checkbook to healthy anger management and
Overall, Christie says, “We try to instill in
them that they’re loved by God, no matter what they’ve done, and God does have
a plan for them and a plan for their baby — and try to help them discern what
The girls learn respect and
responsibility. Under 24-hour supervision from house moms, the girls do their
own cleaning and laundry and work with a wellness coordinator to make healthy
meals. They eat together at 6pm. Everything implements and mirrors what a
healthy family should do and be.
Spiritual development is the home’s
most important feature, says Christie. “We don’t preach the Gospel as much as
we pray and model it as much as we can. They can feel the unconditional love
there. They begin to realize God loves them, everybody sins, but he forgives
and still loves them. That’s what they come away with more than anything.”
“We do not push our Catholic faith
on them,” adds Deacon Aaronson, “but we radically live our Catholic faith to
witness to them.”
From it the girls are drawn to the
Catholic faith. Non-Catholics go from asking about the “necklace” to wanting to
learn how to pray the Rosary. They start coming to Mass. The Catholic girls
start receiving the sacraments. Some have never gone to confession.
Non-Catholics also want to talk with the priests.
Daily the girls must begin with
morning prayer in the chapel and end with an examination of conscience and
“God gives us all these
affirmations,” notes Deacon Aaronson. The first graduate of Annunciation just
received a master’s degree in psychology and wants to help girls in crisis
And there’s current resident Amber.
“I like the fact we’re taken care of really well,” says the 18-year-old. “They
want our children living in a safe environment.”
A Catholic, Amber finds herself
growing spiritually. “There’s a chapel where we’re welcome to pray anytime we
want.” She credits the regular opportunities for confession and Mass at nearby
St. Helen’s Church for bringing her closer to her religion.
Annunciation Maternity Home has
changed the lives of many people in the area along with the 285 girls who’ve
lived there in the last decade.
“Many people in this area are
pro-life, Catholic and non-Catholic, asking themselves: ‘What can I do that’s
positive?’” says St. Helen’s pastor, Msgr. Louis Pavlicek. “This gives people
very much pro-life the opportunity to do something right here in our
Many parishioners are among
Annunciation’s 200 volunteers, who gave more than 17,000 hours of their time
last year alone for everything from driving to doctors’ appointments to
mentoring and being prayer partners. Even the children in the parish’s grammar
school raise donations from sponsors for their walk called March for Moms.
Soon more lives will change:
Annunciation is planning to add transitional housing for 25 older girls.
hard work is “very fulfilling when you’re able to change a girl’s life and then
change it for the next generation,” says Deacon Aaronson. “We’ve planted the
writer Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.
INFORMATION TheMaternityHome.org (512) 864-7755 (877)