Does your parish offer support for women?

Last night was a great night for me, as it was the first meeting of my parish’s newly-formed women’s group. We had a great variety of women show up for this first meeting (from very old to high schoolers, working moms, at-home moms, and single women), so I am excited to see what direction this group will take in the future. We have so much to learn from each other!

One thing I came away from last night’s gathering thinking was that Catholic women from all walks of life need more opportunities like this to get together, especially with other women who share their faith. Gathering with other women of the parish for the sole purpose of connecting with one another was a real blessing. A parish community is supposed to be just that — a community. We lose that sense of community when we simply attend Mass or other parish events, socialize with those people we already know, and fail to connect with the strangers sitting the next pew over each week.

Some parishes are large and organized, offering many different ways for women to get together, share, and support one another. Some smaller and less-organized parishes, however, struggle to meet the needs of women, and it occurs to me that there is a lot we can learn from the ways in which the more successful parishes accomplish this.

What kinds of resources and groups are available to the women at your parish? Are there particular events, studies, or groups you would recommend others try? In what ways is your parish lacking in resources to support women, and how can we help inspire you toward making something happen?

About Danielle Bean

Danielle Bean

Danielle Bean, mother of eight, is editor-in-chief of Catholic Digest and Faith & Family. She is also author of My Cup of Tea: Musings of a Catholic Mom, Mom to Mom, Day to Day: Advice and Support for Catholic Living and (with Elizabeth Foss) Small Steps for Catholic Moms: Think. Pray. Act. Every Day

  • Charisse Tierney

    What resources would you recommend for a one or two day women’s retreat hosted by a parish? There seem to be several wonderful resources out there like Momnipotent for regularly meeting bible study groups, but a lack of Catholic resources for something like an annual women’s event. Is it best to stick with bringing in a presenter/speaker for something like this? Or is there something out there of the do-it-yourself variety?

    • Michele Krilich Faehnle

      I coordinate our diocescan Catholic Women’s conference and it’s a great way to gather women! We have over 2500 women at our conference and bring in 3 speakers, have mass, adoration, rosary, chaplet of Divine Mercy and lots of vendors/tables promoting organizations women can get involved in, different bible studies, and vendors have a variety of Catholic books/ items to help women grow in their faith. For a smaller parish event I would suggest inviting a local speaker/priest based on a topic of interest and of course include the sacraments (mass, confession, adoration)! I would also suggest having the local Catholic bookstore present with solid books that will help the women continue the journey. You can check out more of what we do here –

      • Charisse Tierney

        Thank you so much, Michele! The conference link you posted is amazing. I want to go!:) Your ideas are very helpful–God bless all that you do!

      • Danielle Bean

        Great ideas and resources, Michele. Thanks for sharing them. Having been to many Catholic women’s conferences myself, I must say yours looks amazing. Your diocese is lucky to have you!

  • Anne

    We have a ton of families in our large parish but nothing for women. Unfortunately we lack adequate meeting space. I am happy to report we will be starting Momnipotent in January! I was hoping to start it this fall but the parish hall is booked solid. I have the starter pack and will be ordering more books and journals soon. Thanks for putting this together, Danielle, it is exactly what I’ve been looking for!

    • Danielle Bean

      Wow, I am so excited for you, Anne! Keep me posted on how the study goes for you at your parish.

      • Anne

        I certainly will Danielle. I’ve been involved in a Protestant moms group where nearly all the women are Catholic and we’ve added in Catholic topics, but this Momnipotent is just what I have been hoping for! My pastor is completely behind it too. He had asked me 6 years ago to try starting a moms group in our parish, but I was pretty overwhelmed at the time with a newborn and 18 month old, and there weren’t any programs or resources that were readily available. Now the time is here. The Holy Spirit is all over this!

  • Cathy Filipiak Carlin

    We have been doing women’s ministry for six years increasing little by little. We host Advent by Candlelight and a Lent event as well as several Bible Studies and a Mommy & Me playgroup. This year we are adding Dinner & A Movie (featuring Moms’ Night Out) and using that to promote our Momnipotent series. We are excited about this Catholic moms’ program as usually we take Protestant materials and Catholicize them. Thanks, Danielle.

  • Mary Bryant

    Hi, in my parish we are blessed to have a Mother’s Growing in Faith group that meets weekly during the traditional school year. The year is split into two ‘semesters’ in which we read & discuss a book that helps us explore our faith and increase our spiritual practice. The rather informal gathering of mothers of all ages welcomes babies to the group and offers a nursery service for toddlers and preschoolers during the 2-hr meet time. We also try to have a guest speaker come in at some point during the year for a mini-retreat like session. Other aspects of the group include organizing meal trains for mothers with newborns and coordinating parish service projects when possible. I am so grateful for this parish resource! It has been such a great opportunity for fellowship with other Catholic moms and helped me study Catholicism. I think it would be wonderful if more parishes could develop such a resource.

    • Kristin

      I have a silly question – how did you go about organizing childcare during your meetings? I just started a small moms group at my parish, but we’ve found that we can’t work in a spiritual aspect to our twice-monthly social/play meetings because our collective infants and toddlers just need our attention :) I’d love to be able to start some sort of faith-growing aspect (like perhaps the Momnipotent study?!?!), but our set-up right now just doesn’t allow for it.
      We don’t have many resources for moms at our parish, and so far haven’t had a ton of support for our initiatives. There’s excitement and support in spirit, but I think, practically speaking, the priests don’t have a lot of time to devote to helping us get this up and running (we only have 2, one is the Rector, and we are the Diocesan Cathedral).

  • Maria Murphree

    I am a parish staff member (DRE). We have space available, and we are more than willing to offer things for women. My challenge, from a staff perspective, is the ‘somebody ought to do this’ attitude, instead of the attitude of “I’d like to start a group for… and I’d be willing to facilitate it.”