By KATIE BORKOWSKI
HUMBOLDT – Young women in sixth through 12th grade recently had the opportunity to participate in Faith and Fitness at St. Mary Parish in Humboldt.
“We knew there was a desire for a girl’s study from the students themselves,” said Traci Holm, a member of the St. Mary’s Catholic Faith Formation team. “Pre-teen and teenage students are asking some great questions about ‘What does it mean to be a young Catholic woman?’”
She explained a couple of the faith formation team members took time looking for engaging curriculum.
“We wanted something that would speak to the heart of our students and help aide them in hearing God in prayer,” said Holm. “Meanwhile, Nicole Boyle, a parishioner at St. Mary’s, volunteered to be a youth mentor and catechist. Nicole wanted to help guide others in their spiritual growth and teach about the importance of taking care of ourselves.”
The two ideas merged into the Faith and Fitness gatherings.
“All of our leaders want to impress upon our students and remind each other that God has a plan for each of us,” said Holm. “It is important to be physically fit, mentally-sound and spiritually-ready to hear his plan.”
The small group sessions were divided into three groups – sixth graders, seventh and eighth graders and ninth through 12th graders.
Boyle was a fitness leader for the overall group and a small group leader for grades seventh and eighth. Katherine Tierney was small group leader for grades 9-12. Two sisters, Olivia and Elizabeth Hildreth, were small group leaders for sixth grade.
The sixth grade group studied Be Yourself!: A Journal for Catholic Girls’ by Amy Brooks. The seventh grade through 12th grade young women studied Beloved, the first book in Walking with Purpose young adult series.
“The small groups went through questions and there was discussion time about the chapter of the week,” Holm explained. “From the laughter and chatter, it was definitely an all-girls study.”
For the last 20 minutes of the evening, everyone gathered for the fitness portion, which had a variety of exercises. Holm commented the weather was “beautiful on Wednesday nights, so we were able to do our fitness portion outside on the lawn.”
“I think that this study really pointed out that as young Catholic women, we need to do our part to know God,” she said. “In our busy lives, we need to make time to call on him as he is always there. Through prayer, sacraments and sharing our gifts and charisms we will be able ‘to set the world on fire’ as St. Catherine of Sienna shared.”
Being a better Catholic
According to Holm, the goal of every program held at St. Mary’s is “to help individuals become the disciples God created them to be.”
“We have had great attendance and feedback about how the gals are enjoying the evenings and growing in their relationships with each other and God,” said Holm. “We would love to help any other parish start a Faith and Fitness program. We are hoping to add a study for our young men, which would include recreational fitness and Scripture study.”
Paige DeWinter, who is going into ninth grade, decided to attend the sessions because she wanted to keep growing and strengthening her relationship with Christ.
“During the sessions I enjoyed being able to talk with the other girls there,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to relate and talk about Christ with girls my age and have a very good conversation about our faith together.”
During the Bible study, DeWinter learned a lot about her faith and about being a Catholic.
“One thing that really stuck out to me was trusting in God because he knows what’s best for us,” she said. “God sees the big picture and knows what we want before we do. He has our best interest in mind and we just have to trust God’s plan because his plan is way better than our plan.”
Seventh grader Rebekah Vaverek’s mom told her about Faith and Fitness.
“I like that my friends are all doing it, too, and the fitness part is fun and challenging,” she said. “I always like learning more about being Catholic. The more I learn, the more the world makes sense to me.”
Joslyn Orr, who will be in seventh grade, decided to attend Faith and Fitness because she loves to read and wanted to be in shape for cross country.
“I thought it would be a fun thing to do to grow in my faith,” she said. “I learned something new about my faith each week. I learned about love and prayer and that God loves you 100 million times more than you can even imagine.”