Pray & Play is Born
As mothers of young children, it’s rare that we have an opportunity to meet other moms at Mass. We usually arrive late — no time to talk then! The majority time at Mass we are trying to keep the children quiet. By the time Mass is over, we are too exhausted and the kids are too hungry and wiggly to think about sticking around to chat. Sometimes the only connections we make are the knowing looks we give other moms as we pace the back with a noisy toddler, or carrying a crying child up the aisle during the homily. But being a Catholic mother in this modern age isn’t easy… especially if our only connection to the church is our weekly marathon at Sunday mass.
In my parish www.st-peters.ca in Calgary, Alberta, a few women came together and recognized this need for women to have a place where they could make friends and form a community for themselves and their children, and so last fall, Pray & Play was born.
Before I tell you about our group, I suppose I should introduce myself. My name is Melanie and I’ve been married to my sweetheart for almost 16 years, and together, we are raising 8 kids from 18 months to 14 years old. I’m a protestant convert to the Catholic faith and have been a stay-at-home homeschooling mom my entire married life. I have a heart for moms…. I have often felt God gently nudging me into some sort of women’s ministry in the church and this is where I have ended up.
Pray & Play
Bring your rosaries and your children and join us as we share friendship, faith, prayer and fun! Coffee and conversation for the moms and snacks and playtime for the kids.
Monday afternoons 1-3pm “Coffee – Conversation – Faith & Friendship”
This is our bulletin ad that we placed with trepidation last fall, wondering if anyone would show up. The first few months it was often just the four organizers and one or two other ladies who came, but we persevered, and by the time Lent was upon us, we had a nice solid group of 8-10 women who would come every week, along with a room full of children from little babies up to the homeschooled teenagers who were babysitting for us.
One room is set aside for the kids with a craft table, and toys out, and another room is for the moms with a big table with chairs around it. We always start our meetings with social time, because we understand that its hard to get out the door with little kids in tow. After light snacks with coffee and tea, we gather at the table and have some time to do a little more formal discussions around the topic of the week. When we’ve had our fill of good conversation (or more likely when the clock reminds us that we are running out of time), we move into a prayer time and then end by joining the children in the sanctuary to pray a short devotion with them in front of the tabernacle.
For our formal discussion, we loosely follow a rotating schedule of topics:
Liturgical year : We spend a lot of time talking about how we can live our faith in our homes, and following the feasts of the liturgical year makes it fun and easy. We chat about advent, lent, easter, special feast days, and share ideas and traditions.
Current events: We discuss things that are going on in the world around us and talk about how our Catholic faith can shed light on them. (the provincial election, the recent Planned Parenthood scandal etc..).
Book Study: We dabbled in a few good books by Danielle Bean, Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle, and are starting the Momnipotent study in the fall.
Spiritual Growth: Some quiet time to pray together.. especially during Advent and Lent. We did a very moving Mary’s way of the cross together, and have plans to do the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and other devotions in the future.
For our mom prayers (right after our discussion time), we start by asking everyone if there is anything they would like us to pray for. This allows for discussion as needed before we launch into the real prayer time. Then one mom leads us in prayer, summarizing the petitions. We have found this to be one of the favourite parts of our weekly meetings.
For our prayer time with the children, we have done many things: a very speedy version of the Stations of the Cross during Lent, a quick decade of the rosary (sometimes only 1 Hail Mary and 1 Our Father), an informal prayer circle where the kids take turns saying what they want to pray for etc.. We always make sure we genuflect and wave goodbye to Jesus (and sometimes blow kisses) when we leave the sanctuary.
Outside of our weekly meetings, we have had a few other events as well: Mom’s Night Out at a sushi restaurant, a Christmas party at my home, and park days during the summer. We plan on meeting at a pottery painting place in the fall, and also starting up a monthly family night where we meet at the church and sing to Jesus for a few minutes (maybe have Adoration if we can get our priest to come out), and then go down to the hall for a potluck supper with our families.
One of our favourite ministries that has come about is Pray & Play Cooks! For our pregnant moms, we have started a tradition of meeting in the parish kitchen to cook 10 freezer meals for her to take home for when the baby comes. In the future, we will probably bake muffins at the same time. It’s a fun way to celebrate and support the pregnant moms, and we enjoy cooking together— usually with good music and snacks.
If we could do it different, there are a few things we learned through our first year: Monday is not a good day to meet with moms. It’s too easy to convince yourself not to go- especially in the afternoon. And on that note, afternoons are not very good either, as moms-of-littles like to take advantage of the afternoon nap time – we have switched to weds mornings for the fall.
Another thing we discovered is that bulletins and pulpit announcements are a poor way to reach moms. Almost everyone who has come to our group has been invited personally by one of our members. We have a stack of postcards we made up at the beginning of the year that we leave in the narthex and we try to approach those moms who sit near us at mass every week and tell them about our group. It works!!
Our plans for the future include networking with other moms groups in our city, bringing in speakers, adding more moms night outs, including some service projects where we can give back to the community, and scheduling a couple of times during the year when our priest can hear confessions while the moms can take advantage of the babysitting during our normal meeting.
Thank you for reading about our adventures! I have been richly blessed by the friendships I have made (for myself and my children), and I am looking forward to many more years of bringing those blessings to other moms in our community. If you have any questions or would like to chat, feel free to email me at email@example.com
Melanie Blair is a joy-filled Catholic wife and mother, who is home schooling six of her eight children. She enjoys knitting, reading, and has recently started running in the early mornings to refresh both her body and soul. She is always finding more things to learn about her vocation and how to live the Catholic faith at home with her family. Currently, she is relishing in the graces of ministering to moms and their children at her local parish through Pray & Play.