Two pro-life centers blessed in Peoria Oct. 13 as Respect Life Month continues

With help from Bishop Louis Tylka, Ann Kube cuts the ribbon to mark the official opening of the new site for the Women's Care Center at 2609 Knoxville Ave., in Peoria, on Oct. 13. The original location was destroyed by an arson fire on May 3, 2021. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

As Respect Life Month continues, two centers in Peoria dedicated to upholding life and the dignity of women were blessed by Bishop Louis Tylka, who offered gratitude “for the many, many lives that will be impacted and touched and saved.”

The first blessing on Oct. 13 was for the Women’s Care Center, which has moved to the former Commerce Bank at 2609 N. Knoxville Ave. The center’s original location at 7319 N. University was destroyed by an arson fire on May 3, 2021, and the outreach has been operating temporarily out of office space at the nearby Prairie Spine and Pain Institute.

“The fire seemed like a catastrophe and we didn’t know what we were going to do, but we knew we could adapt. The arsonist didn’t know that God knew — and we know now — that the Women’s Care Center is not something you can burn down,” said Ann Kube, president of the Women’s Care Center board, drawing applause as the ceremony began.

Bishop Louis Tylka is assisted by Leo Hood of St. Jude Parish in Peoria during the blessing of the Women’s Care Center in Peoria on Oct. 13. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

The second blessing that evening was for the Destiny for Women Health Center, located at 2805 N. Knoxville Ave., in a building next to Planned Parenthood. Founded and directed by Kate Smart, the clinic seeks to treat women’s spiritual needs, as well as their physical and emotional health needs.

“We’ve been in existence now for just about five months. It’s been amazing,” Smart said. “So many women are just thirsting to know God. Sometimes I offer to pray with them and they say, ‘Please, yes!’”

She added that “It’s beautiful to be the voice and the hands and the feet of God.”

“Grant that in this new clinic the physicians, the staff and the counselors will receive with kindness all who will be in their care and will tend to them with skill and compassion, so that those who come here will be restored in spirit and in body and forever praise your mercy,” Bishop Tylka prayed before walking through the facility and sprinkling holy water.

He wasn’t the only one doing that, however. While the bishop started and ended in both pro-life centers, in between he invited four little boys to take a turn and made certain the rooms were sprinkled thoroughly.

NEED DRIVES GROWTH

One of the surprises Kube had for those who attended the blessing ceremony at Women’s Care Center was the news that the Peoria location was one of the organization’s largest growth centers. Despite the pandemic, fire, and two moves, the number of pregnancy tests is up by 12 percent and the number of ultrasounds increased by 26 percent over the last year, she said.

Bishop Louis Tylka sprinkles holy water on supplies for women and their children at the Destiny for Women Health Center in Peoria. Open for about five months, the clinic seeks to help women with their spiritual needs, as well as physical and emotional needs. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Women’s Care Center of Peoria is one of 34 centers in 12 states. That includes centers in many cities much larger than Peoria, according to Kube.

She attributes the growth to “the incredible, radical welcome that my staff gives women when they walk through the door.”

“These women feel that love and they are empowered by that love, counter to what society today will tell you empowers women,” Kube said. “Women don’t choose abortion because they are making a choice. Women choose abortion because they feel like they have no other choice.”

When they come to Women’s Care Center and experience unconditional love, they’re empowered to choose life, and they tell their friends, she explained.

Kube also credited her hard-working board for the growth, and cited a growing need, now that Illinois is an abortion destination for people from surrounding states that are trying to “protect and reflect a respect for human life.”

She estimates that the center sees one in every five pregnant women in Peoria County.

“A GREAT GIFT”

Bishop Louis Tylka offers a prayer of blessing at the Destiny for Women Health Clinic, 2805 N. Knoxville Ave., in Peoria on Oct. 13. Looking on is founder and director Kate Smart. Master of ceremonies Phillip Lee is assisting the bishop. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

The original location for the Women’s Care Center, which opened in 2013, was next to National Health Care Inc., and then Whole Woman’s Health of Peoria, both of which provided abortions. The latter closed its doors in 2019.

The new location gives the Women’s Care Center more space at about 2,000 square feet and puts it in the Planned Parenthood “corridor.” It is also closer to the women who need and want help, Kube said.

“What better place than a bank to house these precious treasures,” she said.

“Founding mother” Christine Dennis has since moved out of state, and was unable to attend the blessing ceremony, but continues to work remotely for the Women’s Care Center.

Bishop Tylka offered congratulations to Kube, the staff, and all those who were involved in bringing the center “back to life” and “for making this reality once again a great gift and witness to the sanctity of life, the gift of life; a great gift to the Peoria community and all those who will come here.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: More photos from the blessing of the Women’s Care Center and Destiny for Women Health Center, both in Peoria, have been posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook.

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