September 29, 2006

All in the family: Women’s group organizes unique retreat to benefit mothers, children

By Katie Berger
Special to The Criterion

BEDFORD—It was a day that mothers would love—a chance to spend time with their children while their husbands volunteered to serve lunch for them in the kitchen.

Mothers at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Bedford were given such a treat on Sept. 16 during a half-day retreat organized by the Catholic Women in Faith of Lawrence County. The event brought mothers and children together for a morning of prayer, sharing, activities and fellowship.

Founded in 2004, the Catholic Women in Faith of Lawrence County’s mission is to nurture a faith community of Catholic women to discover their gifts, deepen their faith and support one another to go forth in sharing faith in their daily lives and fulfilling their role as Catholic women.

The theme for the mom and kids’ retreat, “Rejoice, Refresh, Renew,” provided participants with an opportunity to do just that—step aside from what encompasses most days—to focus on their relationships with their families, friends and God.

St. Vincent de Paul parishioner Michelle Padilla of Bedford, one of the organizers and the mother of seven children, said this gathering, which included children, was a special event for the women’s group. The women normally get together each month to discuss faith topics.

The idea for the day came to her, she said, through prayer.

“The Lord put it on my heart,” Padilla said.

She brought the idea to other women who shared her interest in the retreat. The team of women then divided tasks, and the event began taking shape.

The goal for the day, she said, was “to grow in closeness and, really, in the holiness of God.”

Padilla, who brought her daughter, Teresa, on this day, said she felt it was important to be with her daughter to plant seeds for her future. She felt it was important for mothers to be “able to share with [our] children our faith that we love as moms.”

Father Rick Eldred, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Bedford and St. Mary Parish in Mitchell, opened the retreat with a Mass, followed by separate sessions for mothers and children.

The mother’s portion of the day focused on the 10th chapter of Luke’s Gospel concerning sisters Mary and Martha. The passage shares how Martha was often anxious and worrisome, while Mary was calm and unburdened by the things around her. This served as the starting point for mothers to reflect on their lives.

While the mothers had a chance to share together, the children had a session of their own. It focused on how to be a good helper for moms through a scavenger hunt, puppet show and crafts.

Bailey Connerly, a fourth-grader at St. Vincent de Paul School, said he enjoyed the day and the chance to be with his mom, his sister and others.

“I made some new friends here,” he said.

After the individual sessions, the groups came together for several activities. The first was a Hula-Hoop game that allowed moms and kids to work in tandem.

For Padilla, that activity was her favorite part because she was also able to see and hear the smiles and laughter of her daughter and other participants.

“We don’t take a lot of time to do that in our day-to-day living, to just do a game together, just be together like that,” Padilla said.

The mothers also had the opportunity to read and discuss Scripture with their children and do some sharing with them.

For the final activity, the children traced their mother’s on a body-length piece of paper. Mothers then traced their children inside their outlines.

“It was fun because you got to trace your mom, and she got to trace you,” said 7-year-old Teresa Padilla.

Parishioner Amy Brown, whose two children, Kyndall, 7, and Klayton, 4, attended the retreat as well, said she was excited about the day and hoped her children would begin to establish good friendships through the group and their mother’s examples.

“One of the things I prayed about today,” she said, “is for us, as Catholic women, to come together and be strong. We want to raise our children to be close, too.” †


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