Uniontown parishes provide a circle of community support
UNIONTOWN – Mar. 3 – From supporting expectant and young mothers to helping homeless women transition to productive and spiritual lives, the four parishes that make up the Roman Catholic Churches of Uniontown are a beacon of hope for those whose lives are in crisis or need.
At the center of this light of hope is St. Mary (Nativity) Parish. In addition to holding religious formation classes in its former school building, Father Anthony J. Klimko, pastor, recently leased space in there building to Connellsville-based Alternatives.Yes Pregnancy Support Center. The nonprofit provides free services to pregnant women and life-affirming services that protect and enhance their lives, their children and their families through pregnancy and beyond.
Establishing a satellite center in Uniontown was an important strategic move for the organization, according to Andrea Pritts, Executive Director. In December 2022, Pritts secured a grant to create the center. The only requirement was that Pritts had to have a location for the site in 60 days.
“We thought we had a building in place; it was such a sure thing that we were already packing up office inventory for the move,” Pritts said. “But the deal fell through at the very last minute. We felt deflated and were ready to give up.”
Pritts recalled a conversation she had with Father Klimko nine months before this setback, in which he offered her space. She called him immediately to see if he was serious about the offer. He was, and moved quickly to get approval to lease the space.
The men from the Knights of Columbus quickly volunteered to convert the space.
For Pritts and Father Klimko, the satellite pregnancy center is a perfect fit for those facing pregnancy and for mothers and fathers in need.
“In our parish, we have a Ladies of Charity Baby Closet and less than a block away is St. Vincent de Paul, and our parish has food drives for the needy, so it shows you how much our parishioners are aware of the need and the support of the dignity of human life in our area,” Father Klimko said.
The Ladies of Charity moved their inventory of baby clothes and children’s items from the space to a new location in the former school, and volunteers from the Knights of Columbus worked quickly to make repairs and renovations to the space. Pritts, who is hoping to bring ultrasound equipment to Fayette County as part of the organization’s services, has not set a date for a ribbon cutting on the new site.
“It all happened so quickly, and we are so grateful to Father Tony, St. Mary’s, the Ladies of Charity and Bishop Kulick for welcoming us with open arms,” she said.
They are planning a ribbon cutting ceremony later in March.
Across the parking lot from the former school building is Mary House, which. provides a safe, secure, spiritual environment for women who are homeless and in need of transitional housing,.
The former convent is currently home to six women who were homeless due to addiction, domestic violence or other issues. Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill Annette Frey and Edie Strong share community life with the residents and assist them in transition. Mary House has been serving the community since 2016.
While living at Mary House, the residents are required to help with meals and housekeeping and gather for prayer and the main meal each day.
“If they are in recovery, they are required to attend their meetings, work, go to school or to volunteer during the day,” said Sister Edie. “It gives them a chance to get their feet on the ground to find housing and get their life together.”
The residents are required to work on goals during their time at Mary House and report their progress to the sisters on a monthly basis.
They are allowed to stay at Mary House for up to two years. There is a waiting list to join the sisters and their support at Mary House. Women who have been addicted must go through a detoxification program and rehabilitation before they are permitted to become residents.
Sister Annette said there is a great need for the program, which is supported through grants and by the Roman Catholic Churches of Uniontown.
“We have so many success stories,” she said. “We keep up with those who have successfully left and welcome them back with an open house to celebrate their accomplishments.”