Monday, July 7, 2014

Five Things I've Learned About Leading a Catholic Moms' Group

1) We really need each other.

A huge part of the reason my friend Kristi and I wanted to start a moms' group at our parish in the first place was because we were in need of friendship with other Catholic moms. I was new to Catholicism and had four young children, one of whom was a newborn, so there were all kinds of things I wanted help with - both faith-related and mothering-related. I yearned for a place I could grow in my faith, ask questions when I needed to, AND find solace in the throes of potty training.

At our planning meeting, I passed out a questionnaire to find out about the wants and needs of the little group that was forming. Each woman had different ideas and questions, but every one said she hoped to meet other moms. Introvert or extrovert, working or stay-at-home, one child or six, Filipino or Mexican, black or white, cradle Catholic or convert, we moms need other moms in our lives.

2) Many will come for the friendship and stay for the Jesus.

I've had enough conversations over the years to know that some of the thinking goes like this: "I don't really need any more church stuff, I just want to meet other moms." Or: "I guess I can listen to them talk about the Real Presence because that one lady makes amazing brownies." Oddly, though, the closer we get to each other in a place where Jesus is at the center of the activity, the more open we become to growing in our relationships to not just each other, but Him.

3) You can minister to a group of stay-at-home moms and working moms in the same room.

For all of the potential conflict that exists in Mom-Land, (natural birth vs. meds; bottle vs. breast; organic food vs. Pop Tarts;) one of the most sensitive is between the working mom and the stay-at-home mom. You can detect this on TV, in books, and on social media. But guess what? In six years of leading this moms' group that has a pretty even amount of both kinds of moms, I have found the spiritual needs of both to be fairly similar, if not exactly the same. True, one might think she's more tired than the other, and they dress a little different, but they're going through almost all the same experiences in their mothering, their marriages, and their spiritual journeys.

4) It may be easier to discuss the Church's teachings on contraception with a glass of wine in your hand.

Not every Catholic woman embraces or even understands what our Church has to say about openness to life, sexual morality, Confession, divorce, annulments, preparation for the sacraments, the priesthood, or the authority of the Pope. Because I am still a relatively new Catholic, these topics are often at the forefront in my thinking, especially when I'm around other Catholics. I want to talk! I want to poll everyone! I want to ask questions! Not everyone wants to discuss this stuff, but most do - and it goes over even better when you can find a comfy place to sit and sip a glass of wine, or beer, or a really large margarita. Sometimes it doesn't even take alcohol. One of the best discussions about contraception that I've been a part of took place years ago over frozen yogurt, and then morphed into a book group and we all learned a lot.

5) Partnership in ministry is so much more effective and fun than doing it solo.

I would not have started the moms' group alone. I never could have kept it going if so many wonderful women hadn't come along and joined in the effort. Because we all have busy lives and hordes of children between us, sometimes the scheduling didn't work and I scrambled to assemble the content for a meeting by myself. Those were depressing times. When I have a good idea, a partner can make it even better. When I'm stuck or clueless or lazy, a partner pulls me through, helps me plan, and motivates me.

What a joy to reflect on the wisdom I've gained from these treasured years. Many of my best friends were made in our moms' group, and it has given me a trillion good memories. Thanks be to God that He showed me my need for community all those years ago.
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