Reflections from St. Gianna’s Mothers Group Leader – Calgary
I came to St. Gianna’s hesitantly, at the invitation of a friend, and was surprised and delighted to find a haven of friendship and spiritual growth. Fast forward five years, and my very best friends have come from this little mom’s group. I’ve been supported through two pregnancies with food and help with my other children and much more by this wonderful group of Catholic women, and have had the great gift of returning the favour to other mothers. We’ve become a beautiful community.
After three years of simply attending, I stepped into a leadership role with a friend, and together we took up the task of continuing the group. Now, two other lovely women co-lead with me.
St. Gianna’s (under the name Mom’s Time Out until recently) has been a fixture at St. Luke’s parish in Calgary for over 20 years, which is a testament to its impact on the many mothers who have passed through it. In my time with the group we’ve met weekly. Our small children are invited to childcare, run by active senior volunteers, while our mothers take a break to socialize over coffee and treats, listen to speakers, participate in a monthly book study, and do small acts of charity for our community when we get the opportunity.
Our volunteers are integral to St. Gianna’s. These amazing seniors care for our children as if they were their own grandchildren. They’re people who realize just what it’s like to spend your days with small children, and seek to give us a much-needed opportunity, not only to make friends with other mothers and finish a hot cup of coffee, but to grow in the Catholic faith. They love to hear that they gave us the opportunity to be with Jesus in the adoration chapel, or that we got to go to confession. We can’t thank them enough for these little moments to encounter God.
It is a struggle to find good volunteers, and I am thankful every day that these people keep coming back. We very much stress their importance and make sure that we show our appreciation whenever we can. We have recruited through speaking in our parish but have found personal invitations to help out are our best bet.
We seek to enrich the lives of our moms with topics ranging from self-care, passing on the faith, aspects of Catholicism, and coming closer to Jesus through the Church. We prayerfully discern a book to study for the year, as well as which speakers to choose monthly. Our moms sometimes bring up topics in casual discussion that inspire us as leaders to find out more, or a particular subject in the news is affecting us, and we set a date for discussion and find resources or people to help us learn more.. We are fortunate to be able to tap into the diverse community of Catholics in our area, along with Catholic media available to us.
The greatest thing that being a mom’s group leader has taught me is the art of listening. I’m a great talker, but often my rambling gets in my way. When plans go awry, or discussion goes off in a different direction, there’s often a lesson there; God’s way of taking our group where He wants it to go, and letting me know when I need to be quiet. I often can’t see the ways that He wants to use me and this group as His hands and feet, but I rest in the knowledge that once I’ve got the ball rolling, He’s in control, and taking us on an amazing journey.
Jessica Cyr is a wife and stay at home mother to a carpenter husband and four boys in Calgary, Alberta. She is a former journalist with a penchant writing short stories, a Mothers Group Leader, lover of period dramas and all things caffeinated, and a passionate Catholic.