By NANCY SCHWERIN
If we are to take our call to evangelization seriously, we have to get involved. Bishop Robert Baker has declared that the diocese is undertaking a long-term evangelization effort, in which he asks all the faithful to answer their call to be disciple of the Word.
Moms have special ministry created just for them. It begins with helping them understand themselves and their spirituality on a deeper level and then, hopefully, inspires them to live their faith more fully, through joyfully sharing their faith in their community.
Ministry of Mothers Sharing (M.O.M.S.) was started in the Diocese of Charleston in 1995 and is going strong in eight diocesan parishes.
The pilot program, an eight-week session, is run with ideally 15 women, 12 participants and three facilitators. For eight weeks the group meets for two hours a week discussing a new topic with each session. Group members receive a journal, which includes homework activities that help the women explore their daily lives and inner workings. Each of the eight sessions and sections of the journal focus on a different topic: an introduction to the process; self-esteem and self-acceptance; stress, worries, and anxiety; everyday spirituality; feelings; personal growth; expressing values in friendships; and discernment: continuing the journey.
Donna Simons, a MOMS regional coordinator from Jacksonville, Fla., travels to the Diocese of Charleston to spread the news of ministry she’s been involved in for eights years.
“We hope to create a conversion amongst the women,” said Simons. “Not only do they believe in themselves, but they are also affirmed in their roles as wives, mothers and women.”
The ministry is open to all Christian religions, and Simons stressed that is it for working and stay-home moms.
“It helps to close the gap between women that work and women that stay home,” said the regional coordinator.
After the eight-week session, the women are encouraged to meet in their group or another parish setting on a regular basis. They are also encouraged to get involved in their community. A parish may have more than one MOMS group, so as to keep the groups small for optimal sharing time.
Christ Our King in Mount Pleasant is home to two small faith communities of women, who are continuing on their journey. They are currently running an eight-week session for 12 mothers. The groups at the Mount Pleasant parish meet weekly. They discuss Scripture, attend outside educational sessions, and work on community and parish service projects. Recently the group held a “baby shower” collecting two truckloads of baby clothes and products for an unwed mothers home in Charleston. They have “adopted” foster children for whom they buy gifts and pray.
“If you want something to get done, give it to a mom,” said Sharon Willi, director of religious education and MOMS leader at Christ Our King. “I’ve seen the Scripture becoming alive in them; it’s kind of neat to sit back and see how the Holy Spirit works.”.
Benedictine Sister Paula Hagen, Vickie LoPiccolo Jennett and Patricia Hoyt created MOMS, and since 1992, the ministry has reached more than 250,000 women and their families.
The program uses the U.S. bishops’ reflection on the “Called and Gifted,” an outreach to lay men and women. The reflection addresses four stages to full lay involvement in the church. The first is being called to service, answering the call and living out the faith in daily life. The second is continuing education through small faith communities or other educational and spiritual outlets. The third section of the reflection is about finding a niche in which to share the faith. The last discussion point is being open to maturation in the faith, sharing faith knowledge with future generations and remaining open to all God’s people as one goes forth to live the faith more fully in church, community and family life.
Learning about faith and spirituality is a lifelong process that may be made easier with MOMS, where women may discover their similarities and share their worries and joys with their peers. On their journey they may also discover the Lord’s calming presence in each moment of their day.