‘Our state should do better’: One mom’s journey of choosing life and supporting Prop 115

Amy Bryer Brumley

Lauren Castillo grew up as a pro-life supporter, which was no surprise.  

She was Catholic and her father was even the deacon of her church. But then in Castillo’s senior year of college, her pro-life philosophy was put to a real-life test when she had an unplanned pregnancy. 

“That was a moment I had to say to myself, ‘now you have to walk your talk,’” Castillo said. “It truly rocked my world and made me redefine my relationship with God.” 

God continued to test Lauren. She found herself struggling to fit in the desks in her classrooms and few professors took notice. She was already plugged into awareness groups on campus, but she found herself questioning why the university lacked standardized ways to assist a pregnant student. She was told the university handled it on a case-by-case basis. 

Lauren’s due date was also her graduation date for her double major, honors program, but God had another plan and her son was born five-and-a-half-weeks premature. This challenge came with a whole new set of barriers. 

“I walked into my first pediatrician appointment and they said, ‘you don’t have insurance because your policy doesn’t cover a child, so we can’t see you,’” Castillo said. 

She acknowledges these obstacles are even more intense for women who only speak Spanish. The pressures felt from doctors, family members or even the community can be overwhelming. 

Castillo, who had done homework while in labor, delivered on a Thursday and was back in class the following week. She was trying to figure out where and when she could nurse and change diapers. She leaned on her mom a lot at this point for help with her son, but her mom was also recovering from Leukemia treatment at the time.   

The student mom made it through that challenging time in her life with the grace of God. She went through marriage preparations classes with the Archdiocese of Denver and married her son’s father. Her seven-year-old son now has three younger siblings — the most recent is only a few weeks old. 

Castillo never regretted her decision to give her son life and her unplanned and difficult pregnancy strengthened her family and their faith. It also reinvigorated her pro-life support and her passion to help women who find themselves facing an unplanned pregnancy.  

Now, Castillo works with 1,250 college and high school campuses — 41 in Colorado— to let expectant moms know: “There are people who will care for you and your baby and there are many organizations and resources that exist to help.” 

These resources stretch to communities of all sizes throughout the state and they address some of the cultural barriers for Hispanic women, Castillo said. Organizations and government agencies exist that can help with affordable insurance, housing, bill pay assistance, job placement and food.  Lower and no income moms can still have access to high quality OB/GYNs and pediatricians, and these services are not just bi-lingual, they can address cultural differences for pregnant moms in rural Colorado to downtown Denver, Castillo said. 

There’s an unfortunate narrative out there that the pro-life community only cares about the unborn child and it’s just not true, said Castillo, Development Director of Students for Life. We see the mom and baby as equal humans needing our help and support, she added. 

“The moms need to know there are people and groups who will love them, they need to know they are still loved,” Castillo said. “There is no question these women would be met with love and the help they need.” 

That’s why this mom who faced her own unplanned pregnancy is pleading for voters to vote yes on Colorado’s Prop 115 this November. 

“Our mission is to make these supportive services known. There should never be reason that seeking late-term abortions is the answer,” Castillo said. “Our moms and pre-born babies deserve better. Our state should do better.” 

Respect Life ministries and programs supporting moms, like Castillo, and their unplanned pregnancies are supported by the Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal. Show your support at archden.org/GiveCatholic.

COMING UP: Preparing your Home and Heart for the Advent Season

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The Advent season is a time of preparation for our hearts and minds for the Lord’s birth on Christmas.  It extends over the four Sundays before Christmas.  Try some of these Ideas to celebrate Advent in your home by decorating, cooking, singing, and reading your way to Christmas. Some of the best ideas are the simplest.

Special thanks to Patty Lunder for putting this together!

Advent Crafts

Handprint Advent Wreath for Children 
Bring the meaning of Advent into your home by having your kids make this fun and easy Advent wreath.

Materials
Pink and purple construction paper
– Yellow tissue or construction paper (to make a flame)
– One piece of red construction paper cut into 15 small circles
– Scissors
– Glue
– Two colors of green construction paper
– One paper plate
– 2 empty paper towel tubes

1. Take the two shades of green construction paper and cut out several of your child’s (Children’s) handprints. Glue the handprints to the rim of a paper plate with the center cut out.

2. Roll one of the paper towels tubes in purple construction paper and glue in place.

3. Take the second paper towel and roll half in pink construction paper and half in purple construction and glue in place.

4. Cut the covered paper towel tubes in half.

5. Cut 15 small circles from the red construction paper. Take three circles and glue two next to each other and a third below to make berries. Do this next to each candle until all circles are used.

6. Cut 4 rain drop shapes (to make a flame) from the yellow construction paper. Each week glue the yellow construction paper to the candle to make a flame. On the first week light the purple candle, the second week light the second purple candle, the third week light the pink candle and on the fourth week light the final purple candle.

A Meal to Share during the Advent Season

Slow-Cooker Barley & Bean Soup 

Make Sunday dinner during Advent into a special family gathering with a simple, easy dinner. Growing up in a large family, we knew everyone would be together for a family dinner after Mass on Sunday. Let the smells and aromas of a slow stress-free dinner fill your house and heart during the Advent Season. Choose a member of the family to lead grace and enjoy an evening together. This is the perfect setting to light the candles on your Advent wreath and invite all to join in a special prayer for that week.

Ingredients:
– 1 cup dried multi-bean mix or Great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
– 1/2 cup pearl barley (Instant works great, I cook separate and add at end when soup is done)
– 3 cloves garlic, smashed
– 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
– 2 ribs celery, roughly chopped
– 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
– 1 bay leaf
– Salt to taste
– 2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend (basil, oregano)
– Freshly ground black pepper
– One 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, with juice
– 3 cups cleaned baby spinach leaves (about 3 ounces)
– 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, extra for garnish

1. Put 6 cups water, the beans, barley, garlic, carrots, celery, onions, bay leaf, 1 tablespoons salt, herb blend, some pepper in a slow cooker. Squeeze the tomatoes through your hands over the pot to break them down and add their juices. Cover and cook on high until the beans are quite tender and the soup is thick, about 8 hours. 

2. Add the spinach and cheese, and stir until the spinach wilts, about 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. 

3. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve with a baguette.