Somewhere in the ocean of humanity at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., this past January, Faith Major caught sight of a simple sign.
“Strong men defend life.”
“I can’t think of someone who fits that description more accurately than Joe,” said Ms. Major, referring to her son’s godfather, Joe Dalton.
Mr. Dalton and his wife, Jane, were at her side when she addressed Vice President Mike Pence and introduced him to her 1-year-old son, Noah, during that same trip to the nation’s capital.
They had accompanied her since she first met them at the Pregnancy Resource Center (PRC) of Rolla and chose life for her baby.
They had stood with her through some of the most insidious snares the wicked one uses against the mother of an unborn baby.
Now, they were answering her questions on the three-hour flight from Washington to Missouri, when she first expressed interest in joining them as a member of the Catholic Church.
A few months later, Father David Veit, who was pastor of St. Patrick parish in Rolla, would baptize Noah, confirm Ms. Major and give her First Holy Communion at Mass in St. Patrick Church.
“After joining the Church and taking my First Communion, I have this intimacy with Christ that I’ve never had before,” said Ms. Major.
“Before now, I had to work really hard to get into His presence,” she said. “And now it just comes naturally to me. He’s actually part of my living self now!”
Help in the name of the Lord
Ms. Major was engaged to be married when she found out she was pregnant.
Still in college but nonetheless excited to be a mother, she came to the PRC for a free ultrasound.
The not-for-profit center offers a wide range of services to women who are pregnant and in crisis or need.
She came back to the center about two weeks later, crestfallen. Her fiancé had broken up with her because she insisted on giving birth to the baby.
Working a low-paying part-time job, she was pregnant and homeless.
Mrs. Dalton, the PRC’s client services director, listened to Ms. Major, then asked her what she wanted.
She said she wanted to give her baby life — and a good one, at that.
She wanted to finish her degree, become financially self-sufficient and raise the baby to have a better life than she had had so far.
“We told her, ‘You can, and we can help you,’” Mrs. Dalton recalled.
There was room for Ms. Major at the St. Raymond’s Home in Rolla, one of three temporary residences for women who are pregnant and in need of a supportive community.
With homes in Jefferson City, Columbia and Rolla, the St. Raymond’s Society offers long-term help, structure and life coaching to women who choose life for their babies.
It’s named in honor of the patron saint of pregnant mothers.
The Rolla PRC and the St. Raymond’s Society were both founded by Catholics, with help from people of many religious backgrounds.
Mr. Dalton is executive director of the Rolla PRC. In addition to her work at the PRC, Mrs. Dalton is the executive director of St. Raymond’s Society.
“God’s miraculous way”
Ms. Major recalls being put off at first by the idea of living at the St. Raymond’s Home.
“I think I just had scales over my eyes,” she said, in reference to St. Paul’s conversion story in the Book of Acts (9:1-19).
“It was hard for me to believe and accept that they wanted to give me help — real help — and did not want anything in return,” she said.
Before long, she was excelling in her college studies and soaring through St. Raymond’s exclusive life-skills curriculum appropriately titled My Ridiculously Amazing Life.
In 2017, she finished her degree, began her career as a cosmetologist and gave birth to Noah.
“He’s extremely healthy and happy and entertaining,” she said. “I’m so honored to get the opportunity to be his mom.”
What’s more, she accepted Christ back into her life.
“God really used my crisis to bring me closer to Him,” she said. “And He continues to do that.”
She got invited to Washington in January to share her story with federal lawmakers as part of Heartbeat International’s Babies Go to Congress event in Washington.
That’s when she met Vice President Pence and members of his staff in his office near the White House.
“I got to tell him how I started out as a homeless, pregnant, part-time waitress and went from that to being a mom, a college graduate employed in my field of study with a 401k, and had started a business,” she said.
“If that’s not a story of God’s miraculous way of turning things around, I don’t know what is.”
Ms. Major will never forget that her mother prayed for her and named her Faith while she was still in the womb.
In spending time with several Catholics, she started noticing something different about them.
“I noticed that Catholic people forgive and love and give differently from what I learned to live like before,” she said.
But having been raised in a faith tradition that saw Catholics in a negative light, she had many questions.
The Daltons’ answers on the flight back to Missouri helped her find peace and clarity.
“What I learned set well with my soul,” she said. “I asked God what this meant and He said, ‘It means you’re supposed to be Catholic.’”
She began going to Mass with the Daltons each Sunday. Fr. Veit and Deacon Michael Brooks helped her prepare for the sacraments of initiation.
The Daltons also gave her a copy of a humorously titled book, Catholicism for Dummies.
“It’s been a comedically great resource even after I knew what I had to do: convert to Catholicism,” she said.
Being Catholic, she said is “being part of the Bride of Christ and the Body of Christ,” she said.
One thing that stood out for her was the timeless beauty of the Mass.
“That was the thing for me, how beautiful everything we do is,” she said.
She also recognizes in the Church the unity that Christ intended.
“God created us for communion,” she said. “So if we’re not together, we’re not whole.”
As a mom, she appreciates the reverence Catholics give to Jesus’s mother, Mary.
“There is something very immaculate about her,” she said. “I’m a mother to an ordinary toddler, and I go crazy sometimes. Being the mother of the Son of God, she must have been pulling her hair out!”
Shortly before deciding to become Catholic, Ms. Major started having fears and doubts about life after death.
She prayed over Scripture and asked God to counsel and enlighten her.
He gave her a dream.
“I can’t even explain what that dream felt like, but it was nothing like a real experience of everyday life,” she said. “It was divinely different.”
From the top of a mountain, she looked out across hills and valleys, with everything bathed in a golden light that had substance.
“My whole family is there,” she said. “We’re young and completely absent of any dispute or strife. We’re laughing and it sounds like children’s laughter — which is kind of creepy but it’s not.
“The trees are the brightest fall colors. The grass is the most vivid green, and there is spring snow scattered about, and it’s glistening.”
“But now I see”
Ms. Major had to reassure her grandmother, who believed that Rosary beads are demonic, that they are actually a helpful way to pray and meditate on Scripture.
Her grandmother attended the Mass when Ms. Major and Noah were initiated into the Church.
“She told me the Holy Spirit was so alive and active,” Ms. Major recalled.
Her cousin also attended.
“She said to me, ‘Let me know what you learn,’” Ms. Major recalled. “I told her it’s something to be experienced, it’s not something I can explain.”
In fact, Ms. Major is still taking it in.
“I feel like I need training wheels!” she said. “I’m still learning how to live and pray and eat and sleep like a Catholic.”
A Scripture verse — “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You” (Job 42:5) — helps her describe what she is experiencing during this season of her life.
“I want my Creator to understand that I appreciate this extraordinary life He’s given me, especially since I did not appreciate it before like I should have,” she said.
Her goal is for her, her family and everyone she encounters “to one day all join Paradise in perfect communion with God.”
“In the meantime, I’m doing my best to plant seeds with people,” she said.
Ms. Major hopes her story will inspire other women who are pregnant and frightened to ask God for a miracle, and then work with Him to bring it about.
She likens her own experience to that of the boy who presented five barley loaves and two fishes, which Jesus multiplied to feed 5,000 with plenty left over.
“I’m so grateful He is using what little I had to offer in exchange for all of these opportunities to draw closer to Him and become the woman He always intended me to be,” she said.