“Your Cross”

Friends, we had a beautiful discussion on today’s Women of Grace radio program about embracing our crosses.  One of our caller’s shared this prayer by St. Francis De Sales, which I promised to post for you.  There is much in it to pray over and I am certain it will deepen our understanding of the mystery of the cross. Read the rest…

Exciting News! The Women of Grace 2013 Benedicta Leadership Institute for Women

Dear Friends,

peggyhartshornI have very exciting news! Peggy Hartshorn, President of Heartbeat International, an affiliation of over 1400 crisis pregnancy centers internationally, will be presenting our Benedicta Leadership Institute this year, July 11th – 12th. She will train all attendees in her highly successful method for communication and leadership called called the L.O.V.E. Approach. The theme of the Institute is “The L.O.V.E. Approach…For Such A Time As This (Esther 4:14).”

Called to transform the world one woman at a time, Women of Grace exercise the charism of authentic femininity through the gift of spiritual motherhood. With the Blessed Virgin Mary as their exemplar, Women of Grace seek to do for the beleaguered Body of Christ in our day what Our Lady did for the infant Church in hers. Empathy, self-donation, compassion, and the faithful witness to truth characterize this apostolate of love, and build a strong dynamic for a profoundly Catholic women’s leadership. The Women of Grace® 2013 Benedicta Leadership Institute for Women® will train women in a proven approach that develops these four virtues, and is applicable to all professions, vocations, states in life, and life situations. Women of Grace® Regional Coordinators and Facilitators will find this approach particularly valuable in their interaction with each other and in the work God has entrusted to them with their study group participants.


• Completely consistent with Sacred Scripture and Catholic Teaching

• A catalyst for achieving a “civilization of love” according to the vision of Blessed John Paul II

• A jump start for the “New Evangelization”

• Proven efficacious and effective with women via 1400 international crisis pregnancy centers

Attendees will come away with skill development in:

• Listening with empathy and understanding

• Opening options with loving concern and compassion

• Imparting a new vision of life and relationships with values and virtues faithful to God’s desire for us

• Extending hope others by helping them constructing a new plan for their life through goal-setting and strategy development

Margaret “Peggy” Hartshorn, Ph.D., is the developer of The L.O.V.E. Approach which has been used with great success in over 1400 crisis pregnancy centers internationally. Since 1993, Dr. Hartshorn has been president of Heartbeat International, the most expansive network of Christ-centered, life-affirming, pregnancy help ministries in the world, with over 1,400 affiliated pregnancy help centers, medical clinics, maternity homes, adoption agencies, and abortion recovery programs, located in forty-eight countries. She has been a guest on the Women of Grace® Television Program, seen on EWTN and hosted by Johnnette Benkovic, and is one of the guest contributors via video to the new Women of Grace® Study, Feminine Genius…”For Such A Time as This (Esther 4:14)”: Blessed John Paul II and Authentic Femininity.

For information or to register for the Benedicta Leadership Institute or the Women of Grace Retreat, both located in Malvern, PA, please visit our website here or call the Malvern Retreat Center at 1-610-644-0400. 

Yours in Christ,


March for Life 2013 Journal by Vicki Crispo

Women of Grace Peggy Pritchard, Anne Rohrbaugh, Joanne Hudak, Paula Smeigh, Robin Enochs, Marci McKinnon, Bernadette Bernardy, Judy Auchey, Vicki Crispo & Ellyn Shelly

The idea took life after the 39th annual March for Life in 2012 when, during a Women of Grace Facilitator Network Conference call, my sister regional coordinator, Peggy Pritchard passionately presented her reflections from the March For Life and challenged us to make plans for 2013. Regional Coordinators Martha Nicolli and Jennie Stanbro joined in the discussion and with Johnnette’s enthusiastic encouragement, we made plans to officially represent Women of Grace at the March For Life in our nation’s capital on the 40th memorial of Roe vs. Wade. Read the rest…

Participate in the March for Life with Women of Grace!

This January 22nd marks the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, a decision which has forever changed the landscape of human rights and dignity in America and has helped to usher in the “culture of death” in which we live. Over 55 million unborn children have been murdered by legal abortion and countless men and women have been permanently wounded by this unjust ruling by our Supreme Court. As Women of Grace, our mission is to transform the world one woman at a time by affirming women in their dignity and vocation as daughters of God and in their gift of authentic femininity. One of the ways that we accomplish this mission is through social activism, engaging in the cultural issues of our day.

We are pleased to announce that Women of Grace will be represented at this year’s March for Life in Washington, DC on January 25, 2013. We will stand in solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, who will gather at our nation’s capital to be the voice of the voiceless, marginalized, unborn children and their parents who are in need of God’s mercy.

There are two groups who will be marching together and we invite you to join them under the banner of “Women of Grace for Life.” One will leave from the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the other will march from the mall area. Here are the details for the 2 groups:

Vicki Crispo and Peggy Pritchard will lead a group that will gather for Mass in the lower Crypt Church in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the 11:00 a.m. Mass on the day of the march offered by the Capuchin Franciscan Friars. They will head out to the March after we quickly eat and take the metro, which is close by, to Constitution Avenue and blend into the massive crowd as they begin their march from the Mall, up Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court.

Their contact information is as follows:

Vicki Crispo
Phone: 717.324.3690
Email: wog325@gmail.com

Peggy Pritchard
Phone: 717.309.4633
Email: pegpritch@aol.com

Martha Nicolli will be leaving from South Florida. On the day of the March, their group will stand under the “Women of Grace for Life” banner in the mall area for the rally and speakers. Her contact information is:

Martha Nicolli
Phone: 561.212.8673
Email: Manicolli@aol.com

If you plan to attend, please wear a distinctive scarf, pink or purple, so it is easier to keep track of the group in the massive crowd. If you would like artwork for a banner, please email info@womenofgrace.com.

In addition to our physical presence at the March for Life, Women of Grace will join in solidarity with the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who recently announced their campaign for Nine Days of Prayer, Penance & Pilgrimage: Marking the 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade. If you would like to participate in this novena, which will take place January 19 – 27, 2013, please click here.

We entrust all of these activities to the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of Women of Grace.

“Mother of Life” by Nellie Edwards

Our Lady of Guadalupe,

we turn to you who are the protectress of unborn children and ask that you intercede for us,

so that we may more firmly resolve to join you in protecting all human life.

Let our prayers be united to your perpetual motherly intercession on behalf of those whose lives are threatened,

be they in the womb of their mother, on the bed of infirmity, or in the latter years of their life.

May our prayers also be coupled with peaceful action which witnesses to the goodness and dignity of all human life,

so that our firmness of purpose may give courage to those who are fearful and bring light to those who are blinded by sin.

Encourage those who will be involved in the March for Life;

help them to walk closely with God and to give voice to the cry of the oppressed,

in order to remind out nation of its commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all people.

O Virgin Mother of God, present our petitions to your Son and ask Him to bless us with abundant life.



Woman of Grace: St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

St. Teresa of Avila shows us it is never too late to get serious about our prayer life. Born Dona Teresa Sanchez Cepeda Davila y Ahumada, Teresa was an active child with a big imagination and great sensitivity of heart. Little Teresa and her brother Roderigo were intrigued by the lives of the saints and the martyrs, and often sought to imitate their holy example. Read the rest…

Women of Grace: St. Therese of Lisieux

St. Therese of Lisieux (1873 – 1897)

Hidden behind the walls of the Carmelite convent she entered at age fifteen, St. Therese was struck down by tuberculosis in her early twenties. There was nothing remarkable about the young nun, nothing to suggest that she would become one of the most beloved of all the saints. And yet, her “little way,” characterized by the twin virtues of obedience and simplicity, touched so many people that Rome opened her cause for canonization only seventeen years after her death. She was canonized in 1925, proclaimed the universal patron of missions in 1927, and Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul II in 1997. Read the rest…

Woman of Grace: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein, 1891 – 1942)

She was a brilliant scholar, a contemplative mystic, and a “liberated” feminist. At various times she was also a devout Jew, an atheist, a philosopher, a Catholic, and a Carmelite nun. Hers was a heart that hungered for truth, with a passion that burned with such purity and clarity that Pope John Paul II, whose own Mulieris Dignitatem and “Letter to Women” bear the unmistakable imprint of her spirit, canonized her less than fifty years after her death at Auschwitz. Read the rest…

Facilitator Spotlight: Susan Jacobsen

This poem, written in 2008, expresses my philosophy of life and was one of my mother’s favorite poems. Being responsible stewards of God’s gifts of time, treasure, and talent are essential to my husband, Tim and me, as exemplified by our parents. Our 36 years of marriage have been spent providing for our family and volunteering in worthwhile programs. This was especially important when we were raising our sons and continues today as we are proud grandparents. Read the rest…

The Secret Beauty of Authentic Femininity

Writing in “Mother of the Redeemer,” Pope John Paul says this about the call of woman in the world today:

The figure of Mary of Nazareth sheds light on womanhood as such by the very fact that God, in the sublime event of the Incarnation of his Son, entrusted himself to the ministry, the free and active ministry of a woman. It can thus be said that women, by looking to Mary, find in her the secret of living their femininity with dignity and of achieving their own true advancement. In the light of Mary, the Church sees in the face of women the reflection of a beauty which mirrors the loftiest sentiments of which the human heart is capable: the self-offering totality of love; the strength that is capable of bearing the greatest sorrows; limitless fidelity and tireless devotion to work; the ability to combine penetrating intuition with words of support and encouragement.1 Read the rest…

Guest Blogger: Ladies and Gentlemen… WHO?? by Marisa Pereira

As femiminits around the world gather today to celebrate “International Women’s Day” in support of various “gender initiatives”, we’re highlighting one aspect of authentic feminity – what it means to be a “lady.”  The following guest blog was contributed to us by Marisa Pereira.

Recently I was addressing students at Georgia Tech University – speaking on the topic of Confidence. In the Q & A session afterwards, one diligent student who was taking copious notes asked if I could define “Lady” and differentiate from a “Woman”. It dawned on me then, that this generation is quite oblivious to the difference. Their blissful “ignorance” possibly stems from the fact that the word “lady” isn’t used much in our society today and I wondered why.

I am British by nationality but grew up in the Middle East and also in India. However, I have spent my adult life in the US. That being said, I will attest that I cringe inwardly when people refer to me as a “woman” as opposed to a “lady”. Mind you, I know they mean no harm – it’s just that I was raised to realize that there is a definite difference and that training still resonates. I understand that the use of the term “woman” is not negative in any way – or is it? The online Oxford dictionary actually says this about the word “lady”:

Chiefly North American used as an informal, often brusque, form of address to a woman: I’m sorry; lady, but you have the wrong number.

It would seem then that “lady” might actually have a pejorative connotation in our culture!? I decided to delve a bit deeper into the debate – “Woman vs. Lady” because I believe that young lady at GT and others like her would be receptive to the idea of being defined as a “lady” as opposed to a “woman”, if a compelling argument were presented. The internet is rife with arguments, pro and con. The following are some definitions of the word “lady”:

• A well-mannered and considerate woman with high standards of proper behavior.

• A woman regarded as proper and virtuous.

• A woman who is the head of a household.

• A woman, especially when spoken of or to in a polite way.

• A woman of refinement and gentle manners

• A woman regarded as having the characteristics of a good family and high social position; female counterpart of gentleman

I think we can sum up the words “woman” and “man” to be definitions of the sex we are as humans whereas “ladies” and “gentlemen” are what we can aspire to and evolve into.

The movie “My Fair Lady” depicts the transformation of a “prisoner of the gutter” to a “lady” by teaching her how, when and why to think, speak and act. Catholics refer to Mary the mother of Jesus Christ, as “Our Lady” – epitomizing all that is good and graceful. However, she is also known to be a tower of strength and endurance in her suffering. By the same token, I don’t believe anyone would define Brittany Spears as a “lady” nor would anyone would refrain from referring to the late Princess Diana as a “lady”.

It wasn’t so long ago that the word “Lady” was well used. However, the feminist movement ushered in a whole slew of alternatives like “chick”, “babe”, “broad” (and ruder ones!) with the notion that being a “lady” presumes a weakness or handicap of sorts. The movement came about as a call for equal rights between the genders. However, I don’t believe it was meant to create a new definition of a “female” that made her more “male”. Unfortunately, it ended up a movement that threw out the baby with the bath water, so to speak.

In my perspective, a “lady” or “gentleman” is actually a position of power. No – not from a “class” point of view – but a behavioral stand point. Being a lady or a gentleman can only come about when one has self respect and a respect for others which would make for a respectful community – something we can all stand to have more of – don’t you think? Being a lady means acting with manners and reserve which takes strength because it goes against the natural instinct of indulging all our base thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Without this, we lose our mystery and everyone has a look at our bare soul. Our base becomes our standard. We have the option to act despicably without remorse or shame because we are all in the same boat and nothing is inappropriate anymore.

When we eliminated use of the word “lady” we ushered in the age of indiscretion. Everything became more “exposed” – our bodies, behavior, voices, sexuality. Not much is left unspoken, unseen or untouched. Just take Facebook for example – often every thought, word, action and emotion is posted unchecked –by teens and even adults. Really –does everyone need to know our every move and what is said to a spouse or our kids? Who wants to know about certain parts of our anatomy that should be private? Or that one starts drinking at 2 pm? There was a time when that was not something to be proud of! It certainly wasn’t considered ladylike behavior – or gentlemanly for that matter. Now, no one even bats an eye – in fact, more often than not, it is cheered and considered amusing. Of course, our reality TV shows promote a culture of voyeurism. How sad, that we have debased our society – all in the name of “equal rights”!

Being a lady is something I aspire to and something I am proud to be. It takes my God given gift of womanhood to the next level. I like to dress, think and act like a lady. I believe this encourages men to act like gentlemen around me and I am grateful when one opens a door for me, engages me in pertinent discourse or helps me with luggage. However, I do not consider myself the “weaker” sex even though I couldn’t challenge a flea’s bench press ability! Being a lady, doesn’t steal my confidence, capability or compassion. It doesn’t make me a weak, ignorant doormat or a commodity. I am a mother, an entrepreneur, have worked in the corporate world, am involved in the community and am well educated. I am glad NOT to be a man or even a gentleman.

I believe it is a good idea to teach our sons and daughters that they can be competent equals while still being Ladies and Gentlemen – the two are not mutually exclusive. So, to the next generation – go for the GOLD! Be all you can be – Ladies and Gentlemen!

Marisa Pereira is a mother, designer, image consultant and Founder of the Michaela-Noel clothing brand in Atlanta, GA and her website is www.michaela-noel.com.