It all started on October 9, 2015, in Irondale, Alabama, the home of the Eternal Word Television Network. I was at the Network with the co-developers of the Young Women of Grace Facilitator/Teacher Guide, Mary Dillenback and Susan Jacobsen for a few days to tape shows about our new program. On the final day of our visit, we were getting ready to do a “live” show which meant that the audience would be able to call in and ask questions about Young Women of Grace.
As is customary, just before the show began, we all bowed our heads to pray for an infilling of the Holy Spirit to guide us during the program.
Suddenly, Johnnette said, “Wait! St. Kateri is here!”
We all looked up, stunned.
“I think we need to pray for her intercession,” Johnnette announced, and we all did.
Unknown to anyone at the time, I have a great devotion to the little Mohawk saint who defied the odds to embrace Christ. She eventually had to flee to Canada to live out her faith in peace, but her tender devotion to the Mother of God and the Eucharist always attracted me to her. This made prayer to St. Kateri that day on the EWTN set very easy for me!
That night, we were all having dinner at a local restaurant and a discussion came up about facilitating Women of Grace groups. I wondered why, after all these years working for Women of Grace, I had never facilitated a group. The question lingered in my mind until later, when I was alone in my room. It was then that the Lord infused me with the knowledge that I had not facilitated Women of Grace because I was being called to facilitate Young Women of Grace.
“What? But I’m single and have no children! How am I supposed to do that?” I asked.
But I knew the Lord works in marvelous ways and if He wanted this, He would make it happen.
I decided to wait for more instructions and picked up my breviary, the short version that I use only when travelling. Just as I opened the book, a piece of paper fell out and floated to the floor. When I picked it up, I was startled to see that it was a novena to St. Kateri! I must have been praying it during a past trip and left it in the breviary. This was enough of a sign for me!
I immediately began a novena to my dear friend, Kateri, asking her to help me to get a group together.
The next day, I flew home and had barely gotten my suitcase unpacked when I received a text from a woman in my parish asking if she could come over and talk to me. I said, “sure!” thinking we were just going to chat about our favorite subject – the Lord.
Imagine my surprise when she walked in my front door clutching a book to her chest – it was the Young Women of Grace Study Guide.
“Sue, I saw your show on Friday. We’ve got to do this here in our parish. And I think I can help you.”
As it turns out, she was the mother of a teen who knew many other Catholic girls in our local public high school. Within a few weeks, we had the pastor’s approval and enough girls to start the first-ever Young Women of Grace group at St. Agnes parish in Sellersville, PA. They were dubbed “the pioneers” – a title that made them feel super-special.
Although it took a gigantic effort to arrive upon a time that worked for all of us, we decided to meet at the parish every other Friday evening from 4:30 to 6:30. We included dinner (pizza, of course!) and lots of yummy baked goods (the girls did the baking). For the next 10 months, we explored the marvels of authentic femininity, vented about every teen issue from how to deal with really bad friends and broken cell phone screens to how girls in leggings should always wear shirts long enough to cover their butts. And all the while, we ate until we were ready to burst.
The moral of this story is that St. Kateri Tekakwitha was just a wisp of a girl in this life, but she’s a powerhouse in heaven now! Turn to her for help, either to get a group started, or to guide the group you’re facilitating now.
Here’s a little prayer we composed to St. Kateri which we are only too happy to share with you!
Dear St. Kateri,
We pray for your intercession in the Women of Grace apostolate and in a special way for receptivity of heart in Catholic women and girls who participate in the Young Women of Grace program.