Since 2006, the Paul Stefan Foundation has provided housing and prenatal care for underprivileged women while helping them develop skills for future employment, managing a home and raising a family. To date, more than 150 women have received assistance from the foundation.
With the support of local Knights, the organization is opening a regional center at the site of a former hotel, with capacity to house up to 22 women at a time. According to Randy James, the foundation’s president and CEO, this would not have been possible without the assistance of Battlefield Council 10246 in Chancellorsville, Va., just west of Fredericksburg.
“Without the Knights, I would say that we probably might not have made it,” said James, who is a Knight. “[The Knights] are instrumental in supporting us not only individually, but then as a council, and then as a state group. It’s been a work of art working together.”
Members of Council 10246 repainted the interior of the 40-room building, replaced doors and windows, and completed repairs.
“The Paul Stefan Foundation has always been one of the main charities that the Battlefield Council supports financially,” said Dan Scherder, grand knight of Council 10246. “This project gave us an opportunity to really make a difference.”
The Paul Stefan Foundation has brought healing to many people, including its founders after the tragic loss of their child.
Randy and Evelyn James’ sixth child, Paul Stefan James, was born Dec. 13, 2005. He survived only 41 minutes, but they considered it a miracle. The parents were told by doctors that he wouldn’t survive the pregnancy, let alone be born alive, because he was diagnosed with a diaphragmatic hernia — a condition in which a hole in the diaphragm allows abdominal organs to move into the chest cavity and prevent lung development.
Throughout the pregnancy, Randy and Evelyn had attended healing Masses and prayed for their son’s condition to improve with Father Stefan Starzynski, a close family friend and the foundation’s spiritual director. During one of the healing Masses, the priest asked Randy and Evelyn to make “an act of faith.” The couple then decided to become more involved in the pro-life movement.
After Paul’s funeral, a family friend mentioned to Randy that she had been praying a novena to St. Andrew with Father Stefan about establishing a home for unwed mothers. Randy and Evelyn became convinced God was calling them to start such a home and established the Paul Stefan Foundation, named in honor of their son.
The foundation leased two homes, which local Knights helped renovate. They have been operational since Sept. 10, 2006. One of the first pregnant women to receive accommodations that fall was named Erin, who previously lived in a homeless shelter. On Dec. 13, 2006, she gave birth to Andrew Nicholas — exactly one year to the day that Paul Stefan was born and died.
“We know that Our Lady and Lord have given us this beautiful gift of Andrew as a confirmation to continue our mission to house women and babies,” Evelyn wrote in a testimonial on the foundation’s website.
Randy affirmed, “This is something that God wanted us to do.”
Over the years, the women supported by the foundation have given testimonials to the Knights. One woman, who earned her college degree and is now employed with the local Department of Social Services, told Randy that if it were not for the assistance and love she received, she wouldn’t even be alive today.
“They’re damaged or hurt,” he said. “The biggest obstacle is to get them to try to understand that there’s a better way to live. And it’s Jesus.”
Learn more about the pro-life efforts of the Knights of Columbus here.
Share your council’s pro-life story with firstname.lastname@example.org
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