Donna Simons is the director of the M.O.M.S. Ministry in the Diocese of St. Augustine. She is the wife of Lance Simons and mother of Michael, Eric, Tyler, and Deanna. Bishop Baker worked closely with her when he was pastor of Christ the King Parish in Jacksonville, the parish of the Simons family.
By DONNA M. SIMONS
Ministry of Mothers Sharing, better known as M.O.M.S., is teaching us to celebrate the gift of motherhood. As Mary sought Elizabeth 2,000 years ago for love and support, this ministry too teaches women the importance of sharing ones joy and helping those in times of need. Each participant learns that being a mother is a ministry and through this they discover spiritual friendships, and the importance of a daily prayer life. I began M.O.M.S. seven years ago and found God’s grace-filled moments in my everyday life as a wife and mother. As women we need to know the importance of our role in motherhood. The following phrases from a poem by Roy Lessin touched me, “You are a wife and mother because that is what I have called you to be. But your obedience shines as a bright light before me. Continue on. Remember you are my servant. Do all to please me.”
Called and Gifted for the Third Millennium states, “The Christian family is a sign and means of unity and solidarity in our world.” The laity also speak of the parish as a place where they experience the living God. M.O.M.S. encourages women to take active roles in parish ministry. Many evangelize through their own examples of living good lives and sharing their talents in the service of the church. The form of hospitality will also allow families to feel welcome and connected. However, a great challenge to the Catholic Church is to bring our Catholic traditions to the lives of our children.
Leaving my biological family from Massachusetts 20 years ago, I too yearned for the desire to belong and find community. This emptiness was filled when my pastor asked me to be involved in starting M.O.M.S. Through this process I was able to claim my own gifts, recognize and deal with stress, know the importance of friendship and most importantly grow and challenge my own spiritual prayer life. As a mother of four, M.O.M.S. has changed my life; it has taught me to laugh and be the best wife and mother I can be.
My church community is wonderful, but many women with small children feel excluded. They feel they must sit in the back of the church and remain silent with their family. M.O.M.S. is a gift that we, as church, can offer mothers to empower them to take an active part. Sister Paula Hagen, the program’s founder, says, “M.O.M.S. creates in women an awareness of their inner sacred self, while at the same time teaches them new ways to inspire, encourage and affirm each other. Through the process of personal and spiritual growth, women have the opportunity to clarify their values, claim their own giftedness, and bring these new strengths to their family relationships and to the Christian community.”