May the peace and love of Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ be yours today and always!
Recently, I had the wonderful blessing to speak to a room filled with women for the St. Timothy Catholic Women's Retreat at the Bethany Center in Lutz, Florida. It was a joy to be back in our home diocese of St. Petersburg and to be reunited with so many beautiful, familiar faces and many new ones. This is one of our largest "live" events since Covid began. It was pure joy!!! If you were not in attendance, I wish you had been there with us!
There were so many things to be shared about our faith, the state of the world, and the many challenges we face. It was fortuitous to spend this important time together and to be re-charged with the power of the Holy Spirit, especially in light of Pentecost which we just celebrated a couple of weeks ago.
St. John Paul II often referred to his vision of a new springtime of Christianity that would come through a new Pentecost. He underscored the role the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Virgin Mary would play in this new springtime as well as the role you and I would play.
While the ideas of a new springtime and a new Pentecost sound delightful, neither comes with ease. In fact, the First Pentecost came by way of the Passion, and the first springtime by way of the blood of the martyrs. All seasons come with both death and new life, sorrow, and joy.
As I looked into the faces of the women gathered on that Saturday morning, I knew we were all joined by the travail of the last year. And I knew the difficulties and struggles we continue to face because of it and the other crises that have emerged in its wake. I prayed that God would strengthen us to meet the challenges that may be required of us to bring about this new springtime – for courage, perseverance, faith, trust, and hope. I pray the same for you and me today.
Because of your partnership in our mission, I know you understand how important it is to support organizations that are truly changing lives. You believe that our mission is vital for the future of the Church. And you are vital to us. Because of you, we have reached countless women around the world and because of you, we will forge ahead with great hope in the new springtime, a new Pentecost in the Church. Together we really can change the world, one woman at a time! (Please read the P.S. below to hear more about how you made a difference in Uganda).
Thank you again for joining hands with us. I am most grateful for your continued prayers and support in healing hearts, changing lives, and saving souls. What an awesome privilege is ours!
May the abundant life of Jesus Christ be yours and may God bless you!
Gratefully yours, Johnnette Benkovic Williams Founder and President
P.S: Back in early 2020, we initiated an appeal to provide pews for a poor parish church in Northern Uganda. The parishioners would sit on the dirt floor for Sunday Mass and any other liturgical gathering. Monsignor Matthew Odong, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Gulu, solicited our help to raise funds for the pews.
This parish is very dear to him. His spiritual life began there, was nurtured there, and the seed of his vocation was nourished there, along with that of three other men in His ordination class. Following are pictures of the parishioners celebrating the gift of pews Women of Grace was able to provide through your generosity. May many more priests come forth from this humble abode of God!