Sharing Catholicism and Capturing Souls for Christ
A mother-daughter duo create spaces for women in their lives to surrender to God and find a spiritual salve.
Karmyn and her daughter Vanessa both went through mission training. Through training, Vanessa achieved greater comfortability in letting God take control of her life, and allowing the Holy Spirit speak through her. Karmyn shared that training helped her in her leadership skills. They both have always been right at the intersection of Catholicism and Protestantism, with Vanessa currently enrolled at a Protestant school, and Karmyn having found herself in many situations throughout her life where she was the only Catholic among many Protestants. Through their newly acquired skills and trust in the Holy Spirit’s guidance, Karmyn and Vanessa have launched women’s groups which include both Protestant and Catholics members.
Karmyn’s Apostolate | A group for adult women to seek Christ together
When Karmyn decided to start a prayer group, she had six women on board within 24 hours, three Protestant and three Catholic. They were all eager and enthusiastic in their responses. “It was like I had offered somebody in the desert a drink of cool water.” The group is made up of women of all ages and places in life: grandmas, military moms, single moms. The goal is to be centered in Scripture and in Christ. In Karmyn’s own words: “It’s not necessarily a social group. We break open the word and pray Lectio Divina and then light a candle and pray. Usually I pass around some paper and pens and before we pray we do a sort of ‘heart dump’ onto the paper. I encourage each lady to just think about all those prayer intentions that we hold. As women we have the gift of receptivity where we receive and receive and receive, and our hearts are overloaded. Our group gives us the opportunity to come together once a month to dump that all of it at the foot of the Cross and say, ‘It’s Yours, I give it up,’ and surrender all of it to Jesus.”
People keep coming back to Karmyn’s group, she believes, because they keep finding connections with each other and they bond over common experiences, struggles, and over praying for and with each other through all of it. Women in the group have found solidarity and solace in the unique struggles of becoming a mother-in-law, a grandmother, marital struggles, and more. She says:“it’s almost as though when you’re able to connect on a spiritual level with someone who is going through the same thing you are, there is a level of healing there, a level of feeling like, ‘I feel understood,’ and then during prayer these women pray for each other and it’s so beautiful because you can tell there’s this connection.”
Karmyn says that the group is: “Capturing people for Jesus, and giving them the deep connectedness that they need spiritually and relationally that supports them as they seek more of Jesus. Some women who come are into all sorts of things, real seekers, and you can see Jesus just pulling them in, I mean, wow! Even women who don’t normally join things, responding to the invitation to come together with this group of moms for prayer and community. Sometimes women come looking for a playdate and such but this is more, more of a spiritual salve.”
Vanessa’s Apostolate | Teens who are choosing to grow in the Lord
Vanessa has started a group for her teenage peers that she became friends with through church and sports. They started with three, and now have 5-7 show up regularly. They do Lectio Divina with the readings for the upcoming Sunday.
She says, “It just gives us a good place to be able to connect and deepen our friendship because probably more than half of the meeting is just spent talking (you know, teenage girls), but it has also given us a place to connect with each other about our faith and sharing the things we’ve noticed and our experiences as different people and also as friends and being able to connect.”
Karmyn shared her observation about Vanessa’s group as well: “What I’ve seen is that the group is growing together. It creates a place where it’s normalized to love Jesus, it’s normalized to love Scripture. In this group we are kind, in this group we listen, in this group we break open the word and we pray and so as they are making big decisions in their lives they think, well, hmm, my good friend in the Bible study is going to the Catholic college, let’s listen to what her reasons are for doing that.”
Vanessa and Karmyn both described one member of Vanessa’s group who is particularly enjoying it. Karmyn said, “She’s kind of a partier, she’s just fun and beautiful and spicy. You can tell that she’s part of lots of different groups and this is one group that she’s a part of and it’s helping her to see that this is normal and good and beautiful too. And that she can be a hybrid and allow this spiritual side of herself to grow.” Vanessa and Karmyn observed one concrete example of this young girls’ growth when she had a powerful experience of worship, and decided to reach out and text her fellow Catholics and share vulnerably about the experience.
Another girl in Vanessa’s group, one of the newest members, has been very enthusiastic for the group, and hungry for what it offers. In Vanessa’s words, “ She has these great insights. She went to a Catholic middle school and elementary school but I don’t know that she’s ever had a place where she could talk about these things and not be, I don’t know, labeled as a ‘know-it-all’ or something or just having it in a school setting. So I think that it has been helpful for her just giving people a place where loving Jesus, loving Scripture is normalized and having a safety net of people to fall into.”
The girls from the group have more confidence in incorporating their faith into their daily lives from being part of this group. Karmyn observed, “I think it prevents some of the girls from being able to say ‘everyone’s doing it’ because even when they go back to their public schools or wherever they know that truly not everyone is doing that and that they have a choice to live differently.”
In closing, Vanessa shared how nice it’s been to be in a group of girls who are on the same path: “I think it has helped them in the sense that it is more normalized and we’re doing it more often, you know, getting together and praying and reading Scripture; and I think having a pool of friends that have the same interests and spiritual goals.”
Parent Apostolate | A woman without children of her own ministers to parents of little ones:
Kara and her husband are recent converts to Catholicism. Though they don’t have children of their own, Kara desired to minister to parents with young children by providing a discipleship environment for them. Her vision has now come to fruition and parents from her parish are so grateful for the new group she has started. They come together regularly to pray, discuss the struggles of parenthood, and encourage each other, all in a relaxed and baby-friendly environment while their children play at their feet.
Stranger on the Sidewalk| EC leaders unexpectedly encounter a woman in need and respond with an outpouring of Christ’s love:
One morning outside of St. Patrick’s church, Pat saw a woman in distress. After some initial conversation, it was apparent she was in need of prayers. He called over two other parishioners, asked if they could pray for her, and she agreed. As they were praying, she was overcome with emotion and began weeping tears of joy. She exclaimed, praising God and commenting that Catholics are wonderful people. One of the women who had been praying for her accompanied her to get a few things she needed and continued to minister to her in her dire situation.
Heart + Habits of Mission: Invest in Relationships
The fourth Heart and Habit of Mission is “Invest in Relationships.” This is a two-sided coin. On the one side, investing time, effort, and intentionality into relationships blesses others. Genuine care and attention are rare in our world and precious gifts to offer. Investing in relationships opens up communication and builds trust. It allows people to truly be known and seen. If the opportunity arises, it allows us to share the good news in a way that meets their unique longing for God. On the other side of that coin, investing in relationships blesses us because we necessarily grow in holiness when we invest in relationships! In our relationships with others, we put love into practice, coming up against our own shortcomings, annoyances, and impatience. It becomes abundantly clear how unable we are to love others the way they ought to be loved if we don’t rely on God’s help. Trusting less in ourselves and more in God’s power working in us teaches us to conform ourselves to Christ and live his life. In doing this, we reach the other side of the coin once again: as we draw more deeply from the well of God’s grace and goodness in our efforts to love others, we more transparently witness to Jesus’ goodness and his love for the people we are investing in. When we love with his love, others feel it. They know it, even if they can’t name it.