Event aims to help widows of all ages and stages

| June 18, 2015 | 1 Comment

goldcandlesIsolation, loss of purpose and self-pity are feelings Cheryl Broich experienced after the death of her husband, Deacon Richard Broich, who had served in hospital ministry in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Broich, a parishioner of Our Lady of Grace in Edina, was 60 years old when her husband died in 2009 and said every part of her life changed — from sleeping to eating to finances.

She found the most dramatic difficulty was the least tangible.

“You lose your dreams,” she said. “Your hopes and dreams kind of drive you through life, and then they’re all gone. I had never been like that. I had always had lots of ambitions. Then all of a sudden . . . if I want to take a trip someplace, I don’t have anyone to go with me.”

When she became a widow, all of her friends were still working and traveling with their families.

“It wasn’t easy to find widows my age,” Broich said. “They were out there, I just didn’t know where.”

Sundays were especially difficult, as she attended Mass and usually spent the rest of the day alone. That’s when God moved her to reach out to widows, she said.

What started as a fellowship group for widows at her parish has turned into an annual day of reflection that the archdiocese sponsors. It’s an opportunity for widows of all ages to come together for encouragement, whether one has been a widow for a few months or decades.

“It’s not to sit around and cry. It’s to say, ‘Here we are,’” Broich said. “These are women of value. For our archdiocese, they’re a treasure of the Church.”

That message is one Father Francis Hoffman, aka Father Rocky, executive director of Relevant Radio, plans to deliver at the fifth annual Widows’ Day of Reflection. The event is from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 27 at Our Lady of Grace in Edina.

“A lot of people have come and just been so comforted by all the widows there,” Broich said, adding that one year, each attendee made a list of what helps her the most, and then event organizers compiled the lists and shared them. “It’s like they’re not alone. There’s a young mother from Fargo who comes every year. There are a variety of ways they minister to each other just by talking.”

Broich likens the event to an annual booster shot that reminds the women they’re valuable, which is important because many widows don’t feel like they’re making a difference, she said. This is where she thinks the Church can be intentional in asking widows to share their gifts.

Broich acknowledged that widowers need support, too, but she believes the groups function better and with greater authenticity when women and men have separate groups. She encourages people to contact her about starting a group in their parishes at (952) 831-2656.

“All you need is a coffee pot,” she said.

The widows group at Our Lady of Grace meets once a month, and there’s a personal invitation for new widows to join. Members of the group often will attend parish events and Mass together, helping them feel more a part of the parish community.

“The beautiful thing that’s happened is now we know who one another is,” Broich said.

To help parishioners whose spouse has died, Broich shares this advice: “Say hello to people you see coming alone to church. It’s important for those people to be acknowledged.”


If you go

Widows’ Day of Reflection
8 a.m. – 1 p.m. June 27
Our Lady of Grace,
5071 Eden Ave., Edina

Featured speaker: Father Francis Hoffman, aka Father Rocky, executive director of Relevant Radio
Event includes: Mass, coffee and donuts, presentation, lunch and a testimonial

Pre-registration is required.
For more information, contact Our Lady of Grace parish office at (952) 929-3317 or abigailsaffert@olgparish.org

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Category: Local News

  • DebraBrunsberg

    I think this is wonderful. Everyone needs support, especially when they have been married a long time and then they find themselves alone. Maybe, one of these days, the Church will hold one of these for those whose long time spouses walked away, with someone else.