Dear Bishop Olson,
Our Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth is in great need of a ministry and/or community of single mothers. I understand that there are many mom groups in the diocese, however, the struggles of a single working mother are different than those that are married and not the sole breadwinner of the home. I am a single mother of two young children, six and seven. We attend St. Patrick's Cathedral regularly. I am active in my faith. My children are enrolled in religious formation at St. Patrick's Cathedral and I strive to grow in my Catholic faith and thus, try to provide an example for my children to follow.
The Pope recently addressed a single mother this week saying, "I know it's not easy to be a single mother. I know that people can sometimes look askance at you, “You’re a brave woman because you're capable of bringing these two daughters into the world. ... You respected the life you were carrying inside you and God is going to reward you for that and he does reward for you for that. Don't be ashamed. ... I congratulate you." If Pope Francis can recognize that the struggle is real for single mothers such as myself, then why are we as single mothers so underrepresented in our Church in the U.S. and in our diocese?
In August of 2014, I attended the Midwest Catholic Family Conference and I found I was the only single mother there. While I could relate to many of the topics discussed, there was nothing specifically catered towards single mothers, and the dynamics of a family unit were not typical of my own, making me feel lonely and misplaced. When the church speaks of family, we are often left out and seeing this first hand at the conference, reaffirmed it. Why is this so? I yearn for a group of other mothers like myself, to come together in whatever spiritual journey we currently find ourselves living and share our faith with fellowship in mind. The goal of this ministry would be to foster the Catholic faith in ourselves and, in essence, our children. We single mothers do not fall into the typical category of young adult or mom groups.
It is my vision, goal and desire to create a ministry for single mothers to be guided in their faith, share their financial, emotional, and spiritual struggles; where childcare is not an issue and the time to meet does not interfere with our working hours. I know I cannot be the only single mother yearning for something more, but not finding it.
I have done my research, and in all of Texas, I found only one similar group such as the one I propose. (http://www.stmaustin.org/catholic-single-parents) To me this is a travesty. We are not feeding the mothers who need spiritual guidance, social fellowship in a faith-based environment and thus, could potentially be losing part of our flock. These mothers and myself, need a community/ministry where we can do just that. I have been discerning this call to start a group like this and I know there are other single mothers who need community. It is my hope and prayer that you take this into consideration, and provide me an opportunity to meet with you personally to further discuss this, as I too discern my own role in leading this group.
In addition, if you have the time, I suggest reading these articles I found interesting that touch on this very topic I speak of. I hope that you take the time to read them.
“Church can be an incredibly lonely place. It was why I stopped going for a time. It’s why some Sundays I can barely drag myself there just to sit in the pew alone. Surrounded by families. And married couples. So many families and couples.”
Thank you for your time and I am in prayer to hear directly from you soon.
Dear Bishop Olson,
Ever since I was a little girl I had my whole life planned out. I was going to meet my future husband in college, finish school, get married by 22 and have my first child by 24. I never thought for one second that life would happen any other way.
During college I went through three failed relationships and remembered feeling like my world was going to end when things didn't turn out how I expected. The last relationship ended less than six months after I graduated, and I couldn't believe I was going to have to start all over again. I was now 23, single, and heartbroken that things were not going as planned. I spent a significant amount of time refusing to accept that it was over and begged and prayed for God to bring us back together. When I finally realized it was just not meant to be, I began to move on. I went on dates that went nowhere and found it very hard to find anyone I felt a real connection with. I started to lose faith and wondered if I was ever going to have the life I so deeply desired and prayed for.
A few months before my 25th birthday, I prayed for God to remove the heaviness I had in my heart and to strengthen my faith in Him. After truly reflecting on my life and faith, I realized that I had spent too many years trying to make God follow my plans, my will, in my way and my time; which is the complete opposite of how we are called to live. I was ashamed of my lack of faith and trust in Him. For the first time, I asked for His will to be done and not mine. I prayed that my will would be aligned with His and for him to remove any desires from my heart that were not a part of his plans for me. I asked that if it was His will for me to get married and have a family, for it to happen in His perfect way and time. I immediately felt at peace and my heart began to heal.
Over the next six months I started making positive changes. I stopped staring back at the closed doors in my life and began focusing on living each day in the present. I spent more time in church and in prayer. I took better care of myself by eating healthier and working out. I strengthened my relationships with family and close friends. I became truly grateful for each day and did not take a single moment for granted. I went on trips with close friends and started taking Salsa and Bachata classes. I discovered how much I loved dancing and had a great time meeting new people and enjoying the music.
There were still times when I was lonely, and I would think about how wonderful it would be to able to share my life with someone. When I started to feel impatient or discouraged, I would immediately pray for God's will, His perfect peace, and understanding. I continued to hold on to my faith that He had a plan for me, knew what was best for me, and was working out the details. Then, when I least expected it, my future husband came into my life. I thanked God for making me wait as long as he did. I found someone I can share my faith and goals with that mirror my own. The greatest part is that we bring out the best in each other. After almost 2 years of dating, we are now engaged. God willing, we will be married this October.
I will be 29 years old when I walk down the isle, 7 years later than what I had previously planned and prayed for, and I would not have it any other way. The only regret I have is not fully trusting in God's timing and plan during those times of loneliness and confusion. It would have saved me from so much heartache, doubt, worry, and restless nights. God knows exactly what is best for us and if we truly have faith and trust in him, we will see that his plans are far better than what we could ever need or want for ourselves.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
This post was written by Kristyn Evans, Guest Contributor for Wholly Feminine's Blog.
About the author: Kristyn Evans grew up in a small town in west Texas and moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area over 10 years ago. She became interested in the Catholic faith shortly after beginning college. After a year and a half in the RCIA program at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, she received her baptism, confirmation, and first communion. She is strengthening her faith and relationship with God daily, and strives to be a positive light to anyone she encounters.
Childlike faith is what God calls us to possess, yet why is it so hard for us as adults to obtain? “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Luke 18:17
When I interact with my daughter for prayer or worship, I see that faith God so seeks us to possess. It is pure and innocent. It is unfailing. It does not falter in
the midst of a storm. Instead, it remains steadfast as the waves of the storm crash upon each other. The prayers are more fervent and given easily. They are given in thanksgiving as well as in petition.
I watch my daughter in amazement, admiring her strong faith as she prays. Wishing I had her faith, and feeling a bit shameful that I don't. She is only six, but calls upon God as her father. With no care in the world to who hears or sees, she shouts to the sky, "Daddy!" In confusion, I think she is being a bit strange. Yet, when I ask her who she shouts to, she answers with such firm belief, "God. Jesus." Shouting up into the sky, demanding He stop the cold wind, she is fascinated with the beauty of the nature that surrounds us. She looks up into the night sky, admiring the clouds peeking out even amongst the darkness. I too am in awe of the splendor of God’s nature, but as I hear her speak, I can
only think that her faith is much stronger than mine.
At our first attempt to pray the rosary together for a novena, she can no longer hold her eyes open to finish the rosary, but grasps on to it, falling into a deep slumber. All the while, in her sleep, she does not lose hold of it. Her love for Mary is amazing too. Again, I am in awe.
I do not remember, even at her age, having such great faith and love for our Lord. Nor do I remember praying the rosary at her age. She continually shows me the grandeur of her faith, in song, prayer and worship. As we lie in bed to say our prayers, she shouts goodnight to Jesus, our God, Mary and the
saints, adding, "I love you all!" What great faith of hers and what inspiration she is to me, to grow my faith to be like hers.
We should all have childlike faith; just as the example my daughter has given me.
Who inspires you to grow in your faith?
This post was written by Rita Vigil, Editor for Wholly Feminine's Blog
Visit the leadership team page for her biography.
With our current technology we can get just about anything instantaneously. Social media allows us to connect to people all over the world. The Internet provides pages upon pages of information at our fingertips. Yet, sometimes so much information and "connecting" to others through social media can be too much. Are we letting it take a hold of our lives? If we are, what true purpose does it hold? Are we allowing it to take away from actually living our lives? What about living our lives through God's will? Take a minute to think about that… It's a question I've asked myself and the answer wasn't what I hoped. While social media allows us to connect, true connections should be made in person.
With so much technology to distract us, we are forgetting to make those connections with others, but more importantly, with God. We need to remember in making those connections and creating quality time with those people, we are also connecting with God, because we are making those relationships a priority. We must foster those important relationships in our lives in order to connect with God. After all, God uses each and EVERY one of us as His instruments to do His will. If I am "connecting" with others through social media, but not connecting with those in my actual life, thus neglecting important people such as family, am I doing God's will? Of course not... especially if you have a spouse and/or children. Is this the example you want to impress upon them? Definitely not. If you find yourself "connecting" so much you are forgetting to put them as a priority, what is that you are trying to achieve?
There is an underlying problem and it's not social media. The problem stems from within. Anything done in excess is done to cover, hide, or deny a void in our lives. It may be social media, food, drugs, alcohol, TV, shopping, a relationship, etc. Whatever it is that's taking hold of your life, take a moment to pray, reflect and let it go. God has given you free will and the ability to take a hold of your life and actually live it. Make those REAL connections in life, put away the phone when interacting with others and make it a real priority to connect with those that are important in your lives, starting with God. In making that connection, everything else will fall into place. Let's remember to connect with our loved ones and give them true quality time. Have you made a connection today? Tell us about it.
This post was written by Rita Vigil, Editor for Wholly Feminine's Blog
Visit the leadership team page for her biography.
A couple of weekends ago I attended the Spiritual Exercises Retreat for Young Professional Women hosted by the Regnum Christi movement of Dallas. It was a grace-filled weekend full of solitude, meditation, and practical exercises based on St. Ignatius of Loyola’s teachings. There was one talk in particular that resonated with me called, bringing others to the heights given, by Sister Tammy Grady. Her talk encouraged us to create a channel for God’s grace to work in us. One of the first steps is to seek gratitude and love. This can include journaling on a daily basis, being present for the most important moments in our families and friend’s lives, and above all enjoying our relationship with God.
The second step is to share the love. This is the call of our baptism. We are called to become his apostles by adopting a Lifestyle of evangelization. How do we do this? It’s as simple as saying ‘God bless you’ to the cashier at the checkout counter at the grocery store. We can give faith a voice by sharing our testimony with friends. We must pray for God to give us the courage to step outside of our comfort zone as he calls us to walk with him. Saying yes to his call requires time and apostolic action. How are you using your time? Are you being selfish? Could you use your extra time to give back to your church and/or community? Could you be helping a family member or neighbor in need?
The last step is to live the love with others. Life as a Christian is beautiful, but not easy. We need support, fellowship and friendship with like-minded people. Having a Catholic community or support group will keep you accountable. Find a group or ministry at church that you can join to help you grow in your faith.
As you begin to create a channel for God’s grace at work, just keep these three steps in mind and most importantly enjoy your relationship with God. If you’re interested in learning more about the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola or attending a retreat with Regnum Christi please visit RC Dallas Young Women.
This post was written by Cindy Olivera, Founder and President for Wholly Feminine.
Visit the leadership team page for her full biography.
Hola!! The day is finally here! Welcome to the Wholly Feminine community where you will find real-life stories written by real women from a Catholic woman's perspective. This has truly been God's hand at work. The vision was put in my heart in late January after seeking God's will to lead me to where he wanted me to serve. Ten months later, there is now a team of four women (myself included) who have accepted Jesus' call to work in this ministry. I'm so thankful for all of the support and look forward to seeing this community grow. I'd also like to take this opportunity to encourage you to share your story with us. We are currently looking for contributors who can write about different topics from a Catholic woman's perspective. Our hope is to provide inspirational stories and testimony that will serve as a guide to help you enrich your faith as well as encourage women to seek their vocation. As Pope John Paul II states in his letter to women, "This is a matter of justice but also of necessity. Women will increasingly play a part in the solution of the serious problems of the future: leisure time, the quality of life, migration, social services, euthanasia, drugs, health care, the ecology, etc. In all these areas a greater presence of women in society will prove most valuable, for it will help to manifest the contradictions present when society is organized solely according to the criteria of efficiency and productivity, and it will force systems to be redesigned in a way which favours the pro- cesses of humanization which mark the 'civilization of love'." The time is now Wholly Fems! Share this website with all of the women who would benefit from being a part of this community. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. We are EVERYWHERE!!!
Your sister in Christ,