By JOANNE FOX
In early November, a group of women from Sacred Heart Parish in Boone, offered a social and learning event about Advent.
According to Barb MacDougall, one of the individuals who helped to organize the experience, this event was open to all Catholic churches in Boone and Greene Counties.
“We really wanted to bring women of our parishes together to enjoy our Catholic faith,” she explained. “Planning ahead for the Advent season by sharing tradition ideas turned out to be a wonderful way to do it.”
Fellow organizer Kathy Steffen credited “the work of the Holy Spirit,” which prompted a group of women to pursue the idea. Other women involved were: Ann Greazel, Linda Bucheit, Joan Kerwood, Jodi Braun and Heather Fischer.
“We began meeting as a book study group during Lent 2018,” Steffen continued. “As that study ended, we chose to continue with a summer book study that led to a discussion to do more for our church community. This resulted in the Radiant Women Living Advent event.”
Steffen, director of religious education for Sacred Heart, explained the organization process was many hours of meetings.
“Our focus was to help women to learn new traditions for Advent as well as present familiar ideas such as the Advent wreath, the Christmas tree, the Nativity,” she said.
Some saints focused on for learning were St. Andrew, St. Lucy, St. Nicholas and St. Juan Diego, Steffen pointed out.
“Feasts such as the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe were explained,” she said. “Each table had information to read about the theme, a take-home to help bring this to their home as an Advent tradition if desired, and a food that might be traditional with the saint or feast, or just for the evening.”
The organizers garnered resources from a variety of places.
“Most of the women provided much of the decorating and most learning resources were books that we provided as well,” Steffen said. “Also, a blogpost provided the basis for the idea and we were able to use some resources from the site as well such as the take home information. Spiritual resources were purchased such as a learning card on the Immaculate Conception and a daily Advent reflection for the daily readings.”
Greazel, also from Sacred Heart Parish, wanted to participate and assist with planning this event “to bring light toward the season of Advent.”
“The value that I found in the event was that it helped me to make new friends within our cluster,” she said. “It was a joy to see familiar faces when I attended the Mass for the feast of the Immaculate Conception at St. Malachy in Madrid.”
On Nov. 2, participants learned about Advent customs, such as the Jesse Tree and O Antiphons, which are used during Lent and Advent to illustrate a definite distinction in the liturgical season.
“I also wanted to learn about new traditions that I could start with my own family and through individual prayer,” Greazel said. “The event gave me some great book ideas and more knowledge about traditions associated with the Jesse Tree and O Antiphons.”
During the evening, attendees recited the rosary, were greeted by pastor Father Brian Hughes, heard a talk from Steffen, gathered information, socialized and were enlightened about other activities at parishes, Greazel noted.
“For example, we learned that St. Malachy’s parish women were reading a book called Beautiful Hope and they invited those of us from Sacred Heart and St. John’s in Ogden to join,” she said. “We plan to meet up after the holidays to discuss the book.”
The feedback was more than positive, Steffen reported.
“We gathered ideas for future women’s events,” she said. “We hope to have the next learning opportunity near the beginning of Lent for the women in our church communities.”