One small photograph represents a big blessing for Ann Beall, director of The Saint Maximilian Kolbe Center for Life.
The picture of Baby Aubrey, born in late April, is the culmination of months of work for the Catholic ministry that marked its first anniversary in Macon in June.
Aubrey’s father is behind bars, and her homeless mother was considering abortion.
“Being pregnant, scared and alone, she could not see there were other options,” Beall said.
Aubrey’s mother was referred to the Kolbe Center by Daybreak, a day center for the homeless run by DePaul U.S.A.
“Every time I talked to her, I got more and more concerned about what would happen to her,” Beall said. “Now that the baby’s here, she’s really looking to turn her life around.”
Mother and child now are living with the baby’s father’s family, she said.
The Kolbe Center’s mission goes beyond crisis pregnancy intervention.
“We really are taking a pro-life approach from conception through natural death,” Beall said.
The organization, funded by Catholic churches in the Macon deanery and private donations, assists with family planning, problem pregnancies and end-of-life issues.
They will minister to, counsel and encourage expectant couples facing difficult prenatal diagnoses.
“How many miraculous stories have we heard when a mother gets a diagnosis for baby that’s not positive and chooses to have the baby,” she said.
Beall plans to bring in experts to spur discussions on euthanasia, capital punishment, assisted suicide and abortion.
She also is assisting Mercer University students interested in forming their own campus organization mirroring the mission of the Kolbe Center.
Maximilian Kolbe, patron saint of the pro-life movement, was a priest imprisoned in Auschwitz when in 1941 he offered his life in place of Franciszek Gajowniczek, a condemned Polish soldier concerned what his death would mean for his wife and sons.
Gajowniczek, who continually praised Kolbe’s sacrifice, survived the Nazi regime and died in March at the age of 95.
Kolbe, in his place, was one of nine men ordered starved to death as punishment after others had escaped the death camp.
Kolbe and a few others were still alive a couple of weeks later.
Guards gave them lethal injections to hasten their deaths on Aug. 14, which became Kolbe’s feast day.
Kolbe was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982.
Saturday, the day after the 74th anniversary of his death, the Kolbe Center will commemorate his feast with an 8 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church at 830 Poplar St., followed by guest lecturers and an evening concert.
At 9:10 a.m. in the church sanctuary, EWTN television personality and author Mike Aquilina will speak about “The First Pro-Life Movement” in the days of early Christianity and at noon will present “The Martyr’s Cup.”
In between Aquilina’s talks, the Rev. Denis Wilde, associate director for Priests for Life, will speak at 10:30 a.m.
Wilde, a former professor of music at Villanova University, also will present a piano concert at 7 p.m. at the David J. Zuver Performing Arts Center on the campus of Mount de Sales Academy at 851 Orange St.
The concert follows a wine and cheese reception and silent auction at 6:30 p.m.
The events are free and open to the public, who can drop in at any time.
“If they’re reading this Saturday morning, feel free to come and join us for any part of the day,” Beall said.
Word about the center is slowly spreading.
Advertising on backs of three Macon Transit Authority buses is generating some calls.
Notoriety is expected to pick up in the coming weeks after delivery of a new ultrasound machine paid for by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s service organization.
“We do believe we should do everything we can to help people in need, and that includes the unborn,” said Leonard Peck, grand knight of Macon chapter.
The organization has held fish fries and raffles to raise money for the project.
Volunteer technicians will be called to confirm viable pregnancies and give pregnant women a chance to see their unborn child.
“In order to assist women and to hopefully preserve life, I believe these women need to see this life inside them,” Peck said.
Beall, too, believes it will be a crucial tool to reduce abortions.
Months of work developing the organization and creating the office at 1157 Forsyth St. came to fruition with the birth of Baby Aubrey.
“What a blessing. We were so excited,” Beall said.
For more information on the Kolbe Center, visit www.kolbecentermacon.org.
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303 and follow her on Twitter@liz_lines.