Parish moms’ groups foster a community of faith and fellowship

TRUMBULL—When Meghan Bausch moved with her family to Connecticut last year, she hoped to settle into their new community and find companionship for her three young children. Ideally, she wanted a faith-filled Catholic community as she had while living in California and New York. Though Bausch recognized the difficulty of meeting people in a new place, especially in the midst of a pandemic, she found what she hoped for in Everyday Fiat.

“Being a stay-at-home mom can be very isolating, and it’s hard to find community. I’m so thankful that we have this,” said Bausch, a member of this ministry for women at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull.

Such ministries are not unique to Bausch’s parish as many churches throughout the diocese have women’s groups, some devoted specifically to mothers with a foundation of spirituality and fellowship. Meeting with like-minded women in a Christ-centered environment allows them to share their faith as well as the joys and struggles of motherhood.

That was the reason Renee Sacco and her friend Regina Berardino initiated the St. Thomas Mother’s Prayer Group over 20 years ago. “It’s so important to feel that you’re connected with other women like you, to know you’re not alone in your prayer life,” said Sacco of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Fairfield. “When mothers pray for their children, amazing things will happen.”

Like Bausch, both Sacco and Berardino, mothers with children in the parish school at the time, had been searching for a prayer group and started their own, specifically advocating the Rosary. Over time, it has evolved, said Sacco, as they pray for the needs of all people at St. Thomas and include the St. Michael Prayer and the Mother’s Petition to Mary as well as the Rosary. Meeting each Wednesday morning during the school year, this group is now open to all women, not just young mothers, emphasizing the importance of supporting each other at every stage of life.

“We have a list of over 40 people who were once part of the group and we’re always praying for them,” said Sacco. “If there’s a hardship or someone is ill, we know we can turn to our prayer group, and we let the Holy Spirit guide us.”

Though some mothers groups continued to meet, whether in-person or virtually, during the pandemic, others are just now relaunching like the one at St. Jude in Monroe. Jessica Iannotta, the parish’s new Family Ministry Coordinator, said there has been tremendous interest and enthusiasm in the group Meeting Other Mothers (MOM).

“This level of interest is a testament to what these mothers need in their lives – camaraderie, spirituality, a chance to be with like-minded Catholics. We’ve been inspired by St. Gianna, the patron saint of mothers who was very pro-life,” said Iannotta, a mother of two. She has distributed prayer cards of this Italian pediatrician, canonized in 2004, to all women in the group. These cards and hand-written notes of welcome are also given to new mothers in the parish with newly baptized babies, she added. “It’s a way to reach out and promote a sense of community.”

Never in recent years has that sense of community been needed more than it is now. Many of the women in Meeting Other Mothers expressed a desire to connect with others, and Father Joseph Gill, parochial administrator at St. Jude’s, said this group will help them forge the bonds of friendship. “How important it is for the Church to fill the void [left by COVID-19] by bringing people together based around our common faith in Jesus Christ,” he said. “It can help us all resist the isolation and loneliness.”

In addition to prayer, members of these local mothers groups also meet socially. Iannotta plans to start a book club and offer art class outings, while Sacco said the women at St. Thomas have enjoyed Christmas brunch at a member’s home and an end-of-year get together before the summer break. Such fellowship, she said, “allows us to become connected socially too.”

A social connection combined with prayer lead to what Bausch calls a “really nice blend” in Everyday Fiat at St. Theresa. Not only does this group consist of newer mothers with toddlers but older women as well who offer wisdom and share advice. It’s a time of fellowship, said Bausch, as they meet each Friday morning to chat about their lives and tell stories, read and discuss the Sunday Gospel, plan a meal train for a member having surgery, all of which start with the same purpose and foundation—their common Catholic faith.

“We embrace our mother Mary’s fiat as we say ‘yes’ to God’s call,” Bausch said. “In the midst of motherhood, we say a simple ‘yes’ when we’re corralling the kids, changing diapers, making meals. It’s our fiat.”

And it’s a way—through fellowship, community and prayer—for these women to live their faith and learn from one another as they balance the many roles in their lives.

By Emily Clark