Catholic Free Press

Catholic Free Press Digital Edition

  • Dec
  • 6

Young mothers bring others to study the faith

Posted By December 6, 2012 | 12:19 pm | Lead Story #1

By Constance Dwyer
CFP Correspondent

NORTH GRAFTON  – Two young mothers, Melissa Baril-Lower, 37, and Helen Collins, 38, decided to spread the “Good News” of living their Catholic faith by becoming facilitators of a new group, “Women of Grace” at their parish, St. Mary.
Mrs. Baril-Lower uses the book, “Full of Grace,” by Johnnette S. Benkovic and its accompanying workbook. She happened to see Mrs. Benkovic’s show, “Women of Grace,” on EWTN one morning when the author was presenting her study guide. The young mother was so taken up with the presentation that she spoke to her good friend, Helen Collins, about starting a group to discuss the book and Mrs. Collins, without hesitation, said, “Yes.”
Mrs. Collins added that she met Mrs. Baril-Lower when their youngest children were in pre-school and she realized that the two of them desired to learn more about their faith connection –beyond being young moms.
The two personable and interactive mothers had such a successful first course (January-March) and decided to run another course (June-August). In the new year, sometime in January, they will start yet another course, but the location, dates and times have yet to be  determined. This time, however, they are looking to open up the class to women in other parishes in the Worcester Diocese.
The nine-week course meets once a week for two and a half hours.  The ages of the women can be from “l8 to 100.” Mrs. Baril-Lower reflected on how the second class became an opportunity to “learn so much more.”  She said that she felt the Holy Spirit was “working through this course to show you what he wants you to get out of it in order to deepen your spiritual life.”
After meeting as a class, five “homework” assignments are given in the workbook to be completed  during the week. Mrs. Collins noted that although “no one is checking for completion, the assignments are for each participant’s personal use, growth and reflection. Completing the assignments aids in class discussion, too. You get out of it what you put into it.”
Classes are limited to 12 participants although there is some allowance to add a couple more women. As a result of the program, she said, the women from the group were able to lead their families, including husbands, children, nieces, nephews, sisters, brothers, and friends to participate in church, held prayer activities such as the Stations of the Cross during Lent and rosary groups.
“We also learned about God’s grace and that taught us all to treat our family in a different way, making our home life more peaceful,” Mrs. Collin said.
Mrs. Baril-Lower shared that the course is “transformative, regardless of where the women are in their faith.  It is a faith-building program and all participants find it grace-filled and see God at work in their lives.”
Both affirmed that the classes have fit in so well with the Year of Faith called by Pope Benedict XVI for October 2012 through November 2013.
Mrs. Collins was quick to point out that the “Women of Grace” course is “closely aligned to the Catholic Church.”  Sound theological resources are used such as “The Catechism of the Catholic Church,” the encyclicals, the lives of the saints and Scripture. Pope Benedict has asked Catholics to renew their faith this year and to revisit the catechism.
In her own experience with both classes, Mrs. Collins was particularly struck by how women began to change their views because of the program.
“The women began to understand why the Church teaches what it does,” she said.
She also remarked on how the women learned about their role as “life-giving people, single or married. We can contribute to society by trusting in the Lord.”
Another significant result in becoming part of the “Women of Grace” group is that the women who now see each other at Mass at St. Mary’s feel more connected.  Mrs. Baril-Lower said these women will ask, “Pray for me” or will have the chance to find ways of being there for one another in a time of need.

– For more information about becoming a member of “Women of Grace” or becoming a facilitator, contact either Melissa Baril-Lower at 508-839-6790 or Helen Collins at 508-839-1866. You can also check the website which provides information about the Women of Grace daily TV show, radio show, study program, and monthly webinars.