Women’s group is a ‘fiat’ to spiritual formation

Lisa Johnston | lisajohnston@archstl.org
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Just like Mary's "yes," all it took was an affirming nudge from within for Patti Rose to seek a bit of spiritual nourishment on her day off work.

On the third Thursday morning of the month, Rose joins about 50 women at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary to pray the Rosary, followed by a talk from a seminary professor. The Fiat Women's Group formed in February to provide spiritual support in communion with other women — and as an added benefit, they get to witness a slice of seminary life, too.

But for Rose, it's more than just taking time out for herself. It's "taking that yes and carrying it forward — carrying it home, carrying it to your community," said Rose, a parishioner at St. Gabriel the Archangel in south St. Louis. "There's a lot to reflect on ... but where are we going to take that?"

At the Nov. 17 gathering, Father Paul Hoesing spoke about the gift of fearing the Lord — one of the seven signs of the Holy Spirit — and understanding it in context of the unhealthy fears that people sometimes harbor.

"Fear of the Lord says ... the Father is good, and I stand in wonder and awe at the reality that I live this life in all of its circumstances, in all of its situations, in everything that happens in this life, it's all gift," said Father Hoesing, dean of seminarians and director of human formation. "Wisdom is knowledge and suffering coming together. The first stage of wisdom is fear in the Lord."

When we start questioning ourselves — Am I good enough? Am I doing enough? What am I doing wrong? — it's a sign of introspection and self-blame, an unhealthy fear. This kind of fear leads us to two common lies that Satan, the father of lies, often tells us — "there's something wrong with me, and I'm all alone," Father Hoesing said.

But in looking at Jesus on the crucifix, we see a sign of deep intimacy, and a healthy fear of the Lord. "Only someone with great and deep relational bonds can be completely honest that way," Father Hoesing said. "He says, 'into your hands I commend my Spirit.' He has this wonder and awe of the Father's care."

The women's group is an outgrowth of Forming Men for Christ, which was initiated in the spring of 2015 to help form men in the faith and moral teachings of the Church. Held the second Thursday of the month, about 50 men gather for Mass, followed by a talk by Father James Mason, president-rector at Kenrick-Glennon.

The efforts are a dream come true for Mary and Hap Burke, parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes in University City, who were part of core groups that got both started. After hearing Father Mason speak to members of the archdiocese's Lay Formation Program, Mary Burke invited him to lead a retreat for her parish's women's group. From there, a conversation ensued about how great it would be to offer men across the archdiocese spiritual support. Father Mason, who had led a men's group in Sioux Falls, S.D., agreed.

First came the men's group, then the women's. Both provide an opportunity to start the morning on the right foot, catching people before they get into the rest of the day. "We wanted to respect people's time and meet them where they are as best they can and make this a gift," Mary Burke said.

"What's beautiful is to see these women from all over who are really spiritual leaders in their own parishes. It's also great to be able to learn what the seminarians are learning, these beautiful inspiring elements of our faith, and developing a deeper relationship with Christ," she said. "It's good for vocations, it's good for women and good for the seminary to see us." 


>> Fiat Women's Group

The Fiat Women's Group includes prayer and a talk from a faculty member at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. The group meets from 8-9 a.m. on the third Thursday of the month in the St. Joseph Chapel at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, 5200 Glennon Drive in Shrewsbury. The morning begins with the Rosary, followed by a talk. Refreshments are served afterward.

Jesuit Father Mark Kramer, director of spiritual formation, will present the next talk on Dec. 15. For more information, visit www.kenrick.edu/fiat.

>> Forming Men for Christ

Forming Men for Christ includes Mass, followed by a talk about the faith and moral teachings of the Church, presented by Father James Mason, president-rector of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. The group meets from 6:30-7:45 a.m. the second Thursday of the month at St. Joseph Church, 106 N. Meramec Ave. in Clayton. The morning begins with Mass, followed by coffee and a talk. The next meeting is Dec. 8. For more information, visit www.kenrick.edu/formingmenforchrist. 

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