1997, 1998, 1999—three years that broke my heart. The loss of my loved ones during that time devastated me. Looking for answers to the ultimate questions, I found my heart turning back to God in re-conversion. I sought Him through a women’s group at my church. My steps were tentative but see now that God was with me.
The women’s group reconnected me to Jesus yet there was a disturbance in my spirit. The group was gracious and spiritual but I longed for something more authentic and in alignment with the teaching of the Catholic Church.
The Holy Spirit prompted me—actually gently pushed me—into the way I should go. Through His inspiration and the words of a friend I began a group called FIAT which sought to be truly Catholic and Marian. I searched for resources that were in alignment with Catholic teaching—Bible studies, inspirational books, lives of the saints, encyclicals. These works were inspired and beautiful but our little group lacked direction and a consistent vision.
That changed October, 2003 at the Inaugural Women of Grace Conference in Doylestown, PA. A dear friend, Vicki Crispo, and I were called two-by-two in a profound way to the mission of WOG. The call was to spread the Good News of our identity as daughters of the Most High God, to embrace our femininity as His gift and to be chosen at this specific time for some specific purpose.
What stirred our hearts is that we would be guided in this call through Women of Grace, with the resources that we were seeking for so long. The Foundational Study was more than a study for FIAT but a way to live our Catholic faith vibrantly and to love our faith as a gift from God.
This Sacred Sisterhood is most potent at the final session of WOG. Always anticipated with joy, we follow a format of hospitality, sharing and testimony. We conclude with a touching and intimate ceremony. As facilitators, Vicki and I recognize God’s grace in each woman—“I was, God did, I am”.
Vicki and I divide the framed certificates between us. (Frames modestly priced at the dollar store!). Each certificate represents a remarkable infusion and cooperation with grace and a transformation for each woman that is specific to her. Keeping that in mind, we alternate in presenting the certificates. Without using her name we describe the spiritual growth and beautiful attributes of each woman. We usually say, “This woman of grace is beautiful inside and out. We have watched her unfold before our eyes as she embraces her identity and mission as a woman of grace.” As we briefly affirm each woman and their unique journey an eager anticipation grows, “Who is she describing—could it be me?” Hearts are humbled and full when we name our woman of grace and present her with a certificate. This is an appropriate time to pin her with a WOG pin.
The last session solidifies a Sacred Sisterhood that has taken root through the course of the study. The bond is prayerful, affectionate, supportive and confidential.
WOG is not just a study but a transformation of the person. Ongoing opportunities to reinforce the change and solidify the bond are available through ministry resources. We take advantage of the books, DVD’s and CD’s available to support our Sacred Sisterhood as Daughters of the Most High God, Daughters of Mary.
The format can continue weekly, as with our FIAT group, or monthly. We will be implementing Women of Grace Mornings of Grace (WOG MOG) which is a monthly mini WOG retreat for all past WOG participants and for those who are curious about the program.
One more element that has been a profound movement in our hearts is the fulfillment of Chapter 8, the mission. Our Lady encourages us to take what we have been lavishly given and to go forth. God calls us within the call of Women of Grace. That call within the call for us was to become lay associates of the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life. Our Lady has formed us to reach out to suffering post abortive women, to bring them to her Son. We use many of the elements of WOG to tenderly and gently bring the broken soul to the mercy and love of the Father—truly a privilege to walk with the wounded.
With a grateful heart, my journey which began as a plunge into sorrow and darkness in 1999 has become something beautiful and joyful in Christ.