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placeholder Five decades
of leadership

Bishop Floyd Begin,
a bridge builder for all

Oakland diocese's
first parish celebrates
its jubilee, too

The first priest
of the diocese

Commitment to a demanding life

Bishop Begin:
Blessed beginning, blessed ending

Fond memories of Bishop Floyd L. Begin

'Where were you …'

Pastoral Council made diocese a leader in giving laity a voice

Interfaith good feeling, openness part of our diocesan heritage

Housing to rise at former cathedral site

At Cooper Chapel, building community, Catholic identity

'Community' crypts provide peace of mind

Stewardship of the end-of-life

Institute aims to refute atheist influence in science

New film tells story of Cristero War


Catholic population at nearly 59 million in 2010

Religious freedom rally set for June 8

Fundraiser on May 26 for Haitian children

Visitation of the
Blessed Virgin:
What it means for us

50 years later, still answering Fatima questions

Magnificat Maternal Health: Mission to protect women in childbirth

Special collection
for Catholic Communication

Parishes lifeblood
of the diocese

placeholder May 21, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Babies are often delivered by the light of kerosene lamps at Grimard Hospital. The Magnificat Maternal Health Project is working to equip the hospital, as well as train staff, to assist mothers and babies in rural Nigeria.

Magnificat Maternal Health: Mission
to protect women in childbirth

Rev. Simeon Achonu Omale proudly shows photographs and video of Mass at St. Anthony of Padua Church, in rural Nigeria. The lively congregation is predominately female.

"The woman is the mother. The woman is the church. We are burying our church," said Father Omale, who in addition to his duties as a priest serves as health director for the Diocese of Idah.

Maternal Life International
326 S. Jackson St.
Butte, MT 59701
Memo line: Magnificat Maternal Health Project
Online: www.mmhp.org

How to give
All donations are processed through Maternal Life International USA. MLI is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit dedicated to providing a family of safe, practical, life-affirming and innovative programs in maternal health care, in AIDS avoidance and care and in fertility awareness under an umbrella of Family Health Alive options.

A woman in Nigeria has a 1-of-13 chance of dying in childbirth. This is one of the world's worst rates of maternal mortality.

It is the mission of the church to do something about that, said Father Omale. The Magnificat Maternal Health Project is trying to save them, one mother and child at a time.

With the assistance of the project's medical director, Dr. Mary Davenport, who has an obstetrics/gynecology practice in El Sobrante, funds are being raised to not only replace antiquated equipment, but more importantly, to train the next generation of midwives.

Maternal mortality rates can be changed, Davenport said. She pointed to Chile as an example of a country where maternal mortality has decreased over the last 30 years.

Ninety-nine percent of maternal deaths worldwide happen in developing nations. Many of those deaths are preventable, Davenport said, citing pre-eclampsia, hemorrhage, sepsis, constrictive labor and hypertensive disorders.

The people of the region are of Catholic, Protestant, Muslim and indigenous African beliefs. All are served by the prenatal clinic. In Nigeria, faith-based organizations provide 40 percent of the health care.

"The human family is one," Father Omale said. "It doesn't matter where you come from. Let life be saved."

The hospital and clinic see 6,000 maternity cases a year. Clinic days coincide with market days, as many women travel great distances for care. More than 1,000 will return to the clinic to deliver their babies, but most will give birth closer to home.

There is a distinct advantage to delivering at the hospital. "We can 100 percent prevent HIV transmission from mother to baby," said Davenport.

Re-establishing a training center for midwives will provide more qualified health care workers to assist those women in outlying areas, as well as at the clinic. The government-built school, which had operated for a dozen years, needs equipment and textbooks, which the project is working to provide. The goal is to train 50 midwives a year, a grand opening ceremony took place in March.

The cost of that equipment is estimated at $15,000 to $18,000, with shipping costs adding $8,000.

The cost for maternity care is modest by U.S. standards: $20 covers prenatal care and $15 covers the cost of a birth.

The cost of a mother's death cannot be calculated.
"I buried a mum three weeks ago," Father Omale said during a November visit. "She left a beautiful baby girl behind."

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