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Catholic News Herald

Serving Christ and Connecting Catholics in Western North Carolina

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CHARLOTTE — At its “Love Begins at Home” banquet in uptown Charlotte Oct. 19, more than 850 supporters of MiraVia gathered to raise money and hear the good news about the outreach ministry which helped more than 511 young mothers and children last year.

Bishop Peter Jugis, Benedictine Abbot Placid Solari of Belmont Abbey and Monsignor Mauricio West, chancellor and vicar general of the Diocese of Charlotte, offered prayers at the 23rd annual banquet.

MiraVia, which began as Room At The Inn in 1994, helps abortion-vulnerable women choose life and build independent, healthy lives for themselves and their children. MiraVia offers life skills classes, material assistance and moral support to the women who come to them for help – free of charge. Since its founding, MiraVia has helped 7,465 women and their children at its outreach facility in Charlotte.

Debbie Capen, MiraVia’s new executive director, who took over the position last spring after longtime director Jeannie Wray retired, shared the good news of how donations to the outreach ministry helped women and children this year.

Pictured: Catholic bestselling author and EWTN television host Donna Marie Cooper O’Boyle delivers the keynote address Oct. 19.(Photos by SueAnn Howell | Catholic News Herald)

She noted that donors contributed more than 31,050 diapers, 1,027 bags of clothing and 4,054 pounds of food over the past year to MiraVia moms and their babies. Volunteers offered 742 hours of service to assist the mothers and their children at both of MiraVia’s facilities last year.

Capen shared that St. Teresa of Calcutta, whose quote from her 1979 Nobel Peace Prize speech was used as the theme for this year’s banquet, had written MiraVia a letter in the years before her death.

102117 miravia2Jordan Raniszneski, president of the MiraVia board of directors, presents a statue of the Blessed Mother to O’Boyle after her address. “Her message is especially important to MiraVia, because back in 1994 she wrote us a personal letter. I still have it in my office. I keep it safe, sometimes I pull it out,” she said. “In that message she wanted us to know that she would pray for our work and that what we were doing was important. She wanted to encourage us.”

Capen explained that part of St. Teresa’s Nobel Peace Prize speech said, “The greatest destroyer of peace today is the cry of the innocent, unborn child…” She went on to say, “But love begins at home.”

“I hope that she is proud of us here tonight trying to create peace by serving the unborn in the work of MiraVia,” Capen said.

Capen also noted that 14 mothers and their babies were served by MiraVia through their residential facility for college student mothers on the campus of Belmont Abbey College in Belmont. Two of those mothers chose MiraVia after learning about the program from an article published in Columbia magazine, the international publication for the Knights of Columbus, last June.

Faculty, staff and students at the Catholic college are supportive of the mothers on campus and have been known to throw surprise baby showers for the student moms.

“Belmont Abbey is proof that the culture of life is alive and well,” Capen asserted.

The keynote speaker for the 23rd annual banquet was Donna Marie Cooper O’Boyle, an award-winning Catholic author and television host on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). O’Boyle had a decade-long friendship with St. Teresa of Calcutta, receiving 22 letters from her over the years. She had the privilege of seeing her 12 times over the course of their friendship.

O’Boyle spoke candidly of the great suffering in her personal life, especially when she was an expectant mother abandoned by her spouse, and her enduring faith and trust in God through it all. She met St. Teresa of Calcutta through her spiritual director, Jesuit Father James Hardon, whose cause for canonization is being put forward.

“She was praying for me,” O’Boyle explained.
St. Teresa told her that saints learned the beauty of the cross. “You are living in the shadow of the cross… You’ve come so close to Jesus on the cross that He could kiss you,” St. Teresa told her.

1023 miravia2Retired executive director Jeannie Wray accepts a bouquet of roses in recognition of her years of service to MiraVia.O’Boyle encouraged those present to reach out to others just as St. Teresa of Calcutta did.

“Our Lord wants us to evangelize like Mother Teresa did, one by one… Every person who came before her was Jesus, in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor. And she lived that Gospel of Matthew. Jesus said, ‘Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you do to Me.’ So every person she ministered to was Jesus.”

“Our Lord calls us all to see Jesus in one another,” O’Boyle said. “Mother Teresa said that ‘Calcutta is all over the world for those who have eyes to see.’”

For more information about MiraVia, go to www.mira-via.org.

— SueAnn Howell, Senior reporter