Loreto House pregnancy resource center builds new location on solid foundation
DENTON — Like a rose bush after a spring pruning, Loreto House Pregnancy Center in Denton is blooming after a brief closure during the initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
In the two years since coronavirus forced the Catholic pregnancy resource center to restructure how it operates, the facility has expanded in size by nearly 50 percent, transformed its method of serving guests to a case management model, and recently partnered with Lewisville ISD to help teen mothers.
Additional growth is underway. Soon, a nurse will offer more prenatal medical services to pregnant mothers. And construction has begun on a location in Flower Mound to assist pregnant women and families with children under 36 months.
Plans for the second location began two years ago, when an anonymous benefactor donated a 1.3-acre parcel of land at a busy intersection in Flower Mound. The area has experienced a rapid rise in population but has no pregnancy resource center.
Loreto House President Randy Bollig expects the new location will serve guests within a 10-mile radius, including Carrollton, Lewisville, Coppell, and Grapevine, and nearby Catholic parishes might be a source of employees, volunteers, and material support.
A retired building contractor, Bollig admitted that construction at present is “a scary thing. I thought we were sufficiently funded when we started the project a year ago, but construction costs are 40 percent more expensive than what I budgeted a year ago.”
Despite soaring costs and supply chain delays, Bollig hasn’t grown discouraged. He said that an increase in financial contributions from donors proves that the Lord is at work.
The land and architectural plans were donated, and the retired contractor is “using my skills to try to get this built as inexpensively as possible and as beautiful as possible.”
The new facility will be similar in size and amenities to the Denton location, with about a dozen advocate parlors, a sonogram room, and a chapel that replicates the Holy House of Loreto, a pilgrimage destination in Loreto, Italy. Tradition holds that the Holy House of Loreto is the site of the Annunciation and where Mary was born and raised. (It was moved from Nazareth in the 13th century.)
The site is prepared, piers have been poured, and foundation work scheduled. When framing is complete, the nonprofit plans to schedule a tour so that donors and other interested parties can walk through the facility. Bollig estimates the building will be complete in late fall.
Back at the Denton location, the Knights of Columbus donated their 100th ultrasound machine in Texas, thanks to funds raised by Council 12553 of St. Mark Parish in Argyle. Coincidentally, the first ultrasound machine donated by the Knights in Texas was also to Loreto House, when it opened in 2009.
Ultrasounds help mothers and fathers visualize the unborn baby and hear the heartbeat, which encourages them to choose life for their child, according to the Knights.
Thirteen years ago, Loreto House served about 250 women in its first year in Denton. In 2021, they conducted about 7,500 individual visits. Bollig said since the Texas Heartbeat Act went into effect in September, numbers have continued to climb.
Despite the rapid growth, Loreto House remains rooted in hospitality. The staff gives each guest “the same welcome they would receive at our Blessed Mother’s home,” said Marjorie Looney, the director of case management.
Laurie Bollig, the foundress and director of hospitality, added that advocates look to Mary as inspiration for interacting with each guest. She said Mary “would offer [guests] something to eat and drink; she would get to know them, build a relationship with them; and she would introduce them to Jesus. That’s what our hope is here.
“You can see from when you come in — it’s very welcoming, very openly Catholic,” she said.
By switching to a case management model, an advocate can potentially work with a guest for almost four years and build a close relationship with the mother. Each advocate has a cozy, custom “parlor,” where they offer guests refreshments and listen to determine how best to help.
Looney stressed the advocates provide “loving support for people that are very scared. We want them to know ‘We’ve got you.’”
Women can receive free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, parenting classes on 140 topics, lactation consulting, and resources for employment, food banks, and adult education. Many of their services are available in Spanish and Vietnamese also.
At the first visit, guests receive a gift bag that includes a homemade baby hat and the first of many sets of diapers. Laurie Bollig coordinates volunteers who create small craft gifts for the women.
By attending classes, guests earn points to select items including baby clothing and gear. Plus diapers — Loreto House distributes about 16,000 each month, and mothers and fathers receive them at every visit.
“We are trying to meet the need where there’s a gap where women and men are struggling to provide everything for the baby,” said Randy Bollig, adding that a $30 box of diapers can be a critical help.
Being a Catholic pregnancy resource center means no graphic images, no shaming, and no pressure to convert, according to Bollig. “We try to elevate the women’s experience.”
His wife Laurie added, “It’s all about love. It’s just pure loving them. And God gives you the grace to really love them,” she said.