Forest Lake ministry for widows, widowers forges friendships

| Sam Patet | February 10, 2016 | 0 Comments

On Aug. 12, 1994, Chuck and Cindy Casey promised to love and honor one another all the days of their lives. It was their wedding day, and the two couldn’t have been happier.

Little did they know how soon their promise would be fulfilled. On Aug. 12, 2010, Chuck died after a five-year battle with cancer. It was their 16th wedding anniversary.

“For me, being a widow has been one of the most difficult things that I have gone through,” Casey said.

Still, she has found hope and healing thanks to a group she helped form at her parish, St. Peter in Forest Lake. It’s a group for widows and widowers, and in two years it has already made a significant impact.

“There are a lot of hurting people,” said Deacon Terry Moravec, who ministers at St. Peter. A widower himself, he and Casey started the group with the prompting of their pastor, Father Daniel Bodin.

“Everything [at parishes] is for couples and families and young people. . . . But widows and widowers are kind of out there fending for themselves,” Deacon Moravec said.

Lisa Engstrom, director of pastoral care at St. Peter and staff liaison to the group, said she’s surprised by the way the group helps widows and widowers feel connected to the parish community.

The group meets once a month for a potluck supper. While the majority of the participants are parishioners, the group is open to Catholics and non-Catholics throughout the archdiocese.

Having a meal together, Casey said, is a key part of the group’s gatherings. “A lot of widows and widowers don’t have anybody to eat dinner with anymore. So that became something fairly important,” she said.

After supper they do an activity, which has ranged from playing cards and board games to making jewelry and painting.

They’ve also done spiritual activities together. Twice a year they offer a morning of reflection, which includes prayer, Mass, a presentation and lunch, and they’ve had speakers present on the spiritual life. They also made a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of St. Paul in January.

The group is hosting an Agape Dinner Feb. 20 with a presentation by Father Albert Backmann, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who was married 29 years prior to joining the priesthood in 2000. His wife, Nancy, died in 1989 from cancer. The event begins with 10 a.m. Mass. Participants are encouraged to register by calling Deacon Moravec at 651-295-4444. Cost is $5.

Casey said there isn’t a set time when participants share what they’re feeling; that happens naturally during the events.

All of this has helped create an atmosphere where friendships have formed. Some participants even get together outside of the monthly meetings, Deacon Moravec said.

“The biggest thing is the friendship, having people that are sharing the same life,” Casey said. “They feel comfortable laughing, they feel comfortable crying. And we can share, we can understand.”

Looking ahead, Casey and Deacon Moravec want the group to do even more spiritual activities. That’s because they know it’s through a relationship with Jesus Christ that lasting healing will come.

“The real source of healing for both of us has been . . . deepening [our] relationship with Jesus Christ,” Deacon Moravec said.

“The suffering and the journey of being a widow has also drawn me closer to Jesus than I ever thought possible,” Casey said.

“You don’t think that you’ll ever be able to live again, laugh again, love again, but you do,” Casey added. “It takes a while, but you do, with the grace of God; he’ll bring you through.”

For information on upcoming events, visit St. Peter’s website at 

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Local News