"That's something that we hear and that everybody I think on the team has experienced at one point in this journey," she said - the desire to avoid Mass on Mother's Day. That's because Koshute, along with other members of her ministry, have had painful experiences with infertility, and the customary Mother's Day blessing given to mothers at many parishes that day can bring their grief and sense of loss poignantly to the fore.
"I think that so often people in our own families, our friends, and even our pastors don't really understand the full extent of the pain and the grief or even the full extent of the issue of infertility, of how many couples are really dealing with it," she said.
The pain of infertility, and the lack of resources available to Catholics on the subject, was why Koshute and her friend, Kimberly Henkel, founded Springs in the Desert, a Catholic ministry to spiritually and emotionally support women and couples experiencing infertility and infant loss. Originally, Henkel and Koshute, who have both experienced infertility, thought they might write a book. But they decided to start with a ministry website and a blog that could bring people together and allow for other women and couples to share their experiences. The group is relatively new, and held its first retreat in Philadelphia in December. They were set to hold a second one this weekend - Mother's Day weekend - in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, when, well, the pandemic hit.
Now, they've moved the retreat online and opened it up to Catholics across the country - and they've been overwhelmed by the response.
"We thought that we would be really excited if maybe a couple dozen people found out about it and came. We are over 100 participants now. And it's free and it's going to be available all weekend," Koshute said. The retreat is trying to address the emotional and spiritual experience of infertility and loss for a broad range of people, Henkel said - from mothers who have miscarried, to women who are past child-bearing years and still grieving the loss of infertility, to women "who feel like their biological clocks are ticking and just haven't met the right guy." But now that it's a virtual, pre-recorded, watch-at-your-leisure retreat, it also has the potential to reach a population that is often more reluctant to gather in groups and talk about their experiences of infertility: men. "It's mostly women who are emailing us (about the retreat), although we know that many of their husbands will watch with them. But we've also had a few men email us," Koshute said.
"One in particular, it just really touched my heart. And he said that he was searching the web for help for his wife on Mother's Day. And I was just so filled with praise and thanksgiving to God for that, for a husband to see that hurt in his wife and to want to find a way to help her," she added. Men and women typically experience the grief of infertility quite differently, Koshute noted. "For us women, it's so visceral because life is conceived within us and we carry that life. But for a man, it's so different," she said.