A steadfast symbol of help and hope for Boston’s women

The Boston Herald

A pregnant, homeless teenager. A mother grieving the death of her young daughter. An elderly widow. A female veteran.

These women may not appear to have much in common but they do. All have been helped in one way or another by St. Anthony Shrine, a steadfast symbol of help and hope in Boston’s bustling downtown.

“I don’t think there’s any place other than church where you’ll see the wealthiest person in Boston sitting next to a homeless person. But in church, and at this particular church, you see that,” said Rev. Thomas Conway, the shrine’s executive director. “We have this really full spectrum of people that we serve.”

The shrine’s Women’s Health Clinic for homeless women opened two years ago and became so busy the clinic added a second day in March. Every Tuesday and Thursday, the shrine’s director of outreach programs, Mary Ann Ponti, walks down Chinatown’s alleys to Boston Common, inviting homeless women to the clinic. It’s run by women for women, and even the security staff is all female.

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