Yes, the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary shown above is that of a 8-1/2 to 9 month pregnant Mary. I admit that is an image of Mary we rarely see. In fact for most people the only image of Mary pregnant is that of Our Lady of Guadelupe. & many people don't even realize she is depicted as pregnant.
When doing some research I saw the statue referred to by those selling it as Our Lady of Hope. While the places that sell it refer to it as that, I prefer to refer to her as Our Lady of Mary's Inn
. A major reason I have for justifying it is that Our Lady of Hope is the name given to the Virgin Mary after her appearance at Pontmain, France on 17 January 1871.
Now why, you ask, do I prefer to call her Our Lady of Mary's Inn. Simple, Mary's Inn Maternity Home here in Dubuque is where it will end up at. Mary's Inn is a maternity home for women in crisis pregnancies that is scheduled to open in June of 2015.
The story of Mary's Inn goes back to November of 2012 when Marian Bourek, executive director of Dubuque County Right to Life
, Sue Lansing who is involved in the Dubuque Archdiocesan Gabriel Project
& Colleen Pasnik heard the call from God that there was a need for a maternity home for single mothers in crisis pregnancies in this area.
In 2014 a Board of Directors as well as an advisory Board was formed. They applied for & received 501(c)3 Non-Profit Status. Hanna House Maternity Home in Mishawaka, Indiana agreed to mentor them for 3 years. They applied for & received 2 grants to help pay for furniture for the home. Of course, speakers gave presentations at Churches & elsewhere to make people aware of their existence. Fundraising began. Representatives met with local agencies to make them aware of the services Mary's Inn would provide.
In February of 2015 Colleen Pasnik was hired as director of Mary's Inn. After much searching a house was found that was ideal for a maternity home. The owner agreed to sell contingent on Mary's Inn getting the needed rezoning for the home.
While prayer has obviously been a part of the entire process, it was at this point that people began special prayers for the rezoning to pass. Those prayers included visits to the 2 Eucharistic Adoration chapels in the Dubuque area.
The lot was zoned as single family residence & had to be rezoned to be multiple family. The process required 3 separate things to occur in order for the rezoning to go through as needed.
The 1st was on 4 March with a hearing by the Zoning Advisory Board. I wish I could say that the neighbors were welcoming & supported the rezoning, they didn't. They showed up at the meeting to express their opposition. The 2 main objections they had were that it would lower property values & that it would create parking & other problems that would disrupt the peacefulness of the neighborhood.
The Board voted for the rezoning with a recommendation of 1 condition to be imposed. The condition was that the current building could only be replaced by another single family home, no apartment buildings instead.
The next step was to get the approval of the Dubuque City Council. That meeting occurred on 16 March. Naturally the neighbors were there to repeat their objections. John Freund, esq. was the main spokesperson for Mary's Inn. The home's then owner also got up & spoke in favor of the sale. I also got up & gave what I can only describe as a Holy Spirit inspired speech in support of Mary's Inn. (I spent some time in prayer at 1 of the adoration chapels to prepare my notes.) While I made mention of how the claim it would adversely affect property values had no basis in similar situations in the past, my main focus was to build on the emphasis for an inclusive Dubuque that was (& still is) being promoted. I pointed out how making women in crisis pregnancy situations feel welcome fit in with the goal of making Dubuque a welcoming place for all. I also reminded them of how the lower property value argument was a not in my back yard argument as well as how it has been used in the past to not make certain minority groups welcome.
Harry Blewett, the realtor involved in finding the house made a presentation to answer the property value objection.
From the comments & questions it was very clear the City Council members were not buying the arguments by the neighbors. They voted to approve the rezoning as recommended by the Zoning Board. I talked to 4 Council members after the meeting & got a lot of positive feedback supporting the home. 1 member shared the experience of her parents being unwelcome when they moved to Dubuque in 1959. They were 1 of 5 African-American families at that time. The lower property value argument was 1 of those used to justify their not being welcome. Clearly the neighbors had shot themselves in the foot by using that argument.
But there was still 1 more hoop to go through. The final stop was the Zoning Board of Adjustment on 26 March. They had to issue a conditional use permit for it to be used as a maternity home. They granted the permit with a limit of 4 women & their children as residents at any time. Mary's Inn had a plan for eventually serving 7 women at a time. Down the road they will be able to go back & ask for the number to be increased if needed.
So Mary's Inn has taken possession of the home & has begun the remodelling & repairs needed. Staff is being hired. There will be a housemother on duty 24/7. Each housemother will work an 8 hour shift, some full, some part time.
As I said earlier, the goal is to open in mid June. They have 3 women waiting to take up residence. These women have had to apply & meet certain criteria in order to be accepted.
The home has 3 bedrooms, 2 will have 1 woman each, the other will hold 2 women. In addition there will be a kitchen for the women to prepare meals. There will also be a chapel.
The website says that Mary's Inn
- Offers a stable home environment
- Offers physical, emotional and spiritual support for pregnant women of any age and of any (or no) faith
- Operates according to Catholic Church teachings
- Encourages women to choose life for their unborn babies through support, education, and resources
- Offers adoption options to every mom
- Teaches life skills, including decision- making and personal responsibility
- Supports women in completion of high school education and in developing continuing education plans based upon their personal goals
- Offers help in finding appropriate employment
- Provides counseling and connects women to prenatal care and community services
- Empowers young women to set realistic goals
- Hosts ongoing monthly support groups for former residents
By now I hope that you will want to do what you can to support Mary's Inn. Pray is very important, but financial support is also needed. You can contact them @ (563)552-6288,