Transforming the lives of women

| Julie Pfitzinger for The Catholic Spirit | December 6, 2011 | 0 Comments

Ministry of Mothers Sharing to celebrate 20 years of spiritual support

Samantha Barron helps her son Afton, 6, get ready for a Dec. 3 karate class. Barron says that her experiences with the Ministry of Mothers Sharing group at her parish have made her realize the importance of the little things that moms do. Dianne Towalski / The Catholic Spirit

An unforgettable moment of transformation occurred for Jean Glaraton during a Ministry of Mothers Sharing retreat at Transfiguration Church in Oakdale several years ago.

The mother of four children, now ranging in age from 5 to 18, had recently left her full-time nursing job to become a stay-at-home mom and was struggling to adjust to the change.

At the retreat focused on “The Blessings of Motherhood”  and facilitated by ministry co-founder Benedictine Sister Paula Hagen, Glaraton’s heart opened to a message that changed her.

“I truly realized what I was doing for my family was as valuable as anything I could be doing outside my home,” Glaraton said. “Motherhood is a call to holiness. It is part of your being.”

Part of the mission of the Ministry of Mothers Sharing, a national program and outreach ministry of St. Paul’s Monastery in Maplewood that was launched in 1992 by Sister Paula, Vickie Jennett and Tricia Hoyt, is to help women enhance their prayer lives and find spiritual support in a faith-sharing environment with other mothers.

Friends in a blessed life

The Ministry of Mothers Sharing logo uses this simple representation of the Visitation between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth to emphasize the inherent holiness in spiritual friendship.

Glaraton, now the associate director for the ministry, said her life has been blessed many times over as a result of her participation in a ministry group.

“The friendships I have developed with other moms I met through the ministry are so deep and so real and unlike connections I’ve had with other friends in my life,” she said.

Samantha Barron, a parishioner at St. Thomas the Apostle in St. Paul, was also awakened to the deeper meaning of her role as the mother of three children, ages 9, 7 and 5, through her experience as a prayer leader with the Ministry of Mothers Sharing group founded at her parish four years ago.

“A lot of times as mothers, we can feel isolated. There are things we do every day that don’t seem to matter, like running kids to hockey practice or cleaning peanut butter off the counters,” she said. “However, I realized, through being part of a ministry group, that everything we do as mothers really is a little act of God.”

Over the past 20 years, more than 500,000 mothers of all ages across the country have experienced their own moments of transformation through Ministry of Mothers Sharing eight-week sessions, retreats and workshops, which focus on prayer, faith, ritual, spiritual gifts and friendship.

Working on the future

In January, the organization will kick off its “2012 — Year of Celebration” with an event at St. Paul’s Monastery to raise awareness and funds for the sustainability of the 20-year-old ministry, while creating opportunities for past ministry participants from various local parishes to reunite, pray and reflect. Similar events will be held across the country throughout the year.

“Our vision for Ministry of Mothers Sharing is to ‘empower women from the inside out for the transformation of society,’” said Mary Boespflug, national director. “One of the ways we do this is to offer, through our sessions and retreats, an opportunity for women to reflect. Reflection is a lost art because in today’s society, we take such pride in our multi-tasking abilities. But it is in our moments of reflection when God reaches out to us.”

The next chapter for the ministry is the projected 2012 launch of a new Spanish version of the program, which has been spearheaded by Anne Attea of Ascension Church in Minneapolis. Focus groups have been formed around the translation of materials, which Boespflug said will be based on a cultural translation, rather than a strict language-based translation.

“We want it to be globally workable for women of all Hispanic cultures,” she said.

Glaraton said Ministry of Mothers Sharing staff members have been especially gratified by the enthusiasm they have observed in those working on the Hispanic initiative and their desire to bring the program to mothers who may feel particularly isolated in their communities.

“Several of those involved in the focus groups attended our national conference last summer and there was such joy and passion among the women to bring the ministry to a Spanish-speaking audience,” Glaraton said.


2012 — Year of Celebration

  • What: Sister Paula Hagen, OSB, will reflect on the impact of Ministry of Mothers Sharing, followed by prayer ritual, presentations, discussion of a vision for the future, music and refreshments.
  • Time: 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
  • Date: Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012
  • Place: St. Paul’s Monastery, 2675 Benet Road, St. Paul

More information about Ministry of Mothers Sharing, including upcoming eight-week sessions and local retreats online.

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