At left: Elaina and Dan Judge with their children, Max, 3 and Claire, 16 months.
Elaina Judge believes women need to know that they are not alone and that they have the support of their parish as they raise their children.
“While women are amazing at many great things it is impossible to do everything. (They) are saddled today with raising children, house work, school, and career. It all can become quite overwhelming and exhausting… leav(ing) women feeling isolated and heavily burdened. It can make women feel like they are failures.”
In response to that need, with the backing of her pastor, Father Cadmus Mazzarella, at Our Lady of Peace Parish, Judge organized a mothers group that meets twice a month so moms could encourage one another. For those who were unable to attend the morning group, an opportunity to participate in the monthly family fun night was also made available. Through potlucks, hayrides and trips to various places including the Franklin Institute, moms and dads have opportunities to connect with other young families in the parish.
Future plans include speakers for parents on related topics.
Mary Ann Chezik, the mother of 3 grown children, concurs with the need for being with other moms living through the same stage of parenting. Looking back on her own experiences, she acknowledges, “I didn’t realize how much I needed the connection with other young moms after the birth of my first child. Our childbirth instructor arranged a reunion of sorts a couple of months after the births of our babies. I didn’t really want to go, but I was curious enough to make the effort. I was so glad I did! Seeing the other new moms struggling with some of the same issues was so helpful that we met regularly for years. . . .”
Both women will be guest speakers at a Camden Diocesan Elizabeth Ministry gathering on Friday, Oct. 7, from 9-11 a.m., in the St. Joseph Room, at Our Lady of Peace Parish, Williamstown. The event, which is free and open to anyone, is being sponsored by Our Lady of Peace Parish and Elizabeth Ministry, Faith & Family Life Formation, Office of Lifelong Faith Formation.
For those who can arrive earlier, Mass will be celebrated at 8 a.m. in the church. Children are welcome.
The first talk, with sharing discussion, by Mary Ann Chezik, “Supporting new moms: Who will nurture the nurturer?” will focus on mutual assistance opportunities and how others in the parish can help in meeting the need for encouragement and connectedness. “Even now,” says Chezik, “with my children grown and marrying, I see the need from a different point of view — many of us still have a desire to nurture or ‘mother,’ and there are probably many young moms in the parish who don’t live close to their own mothers. It would be great to be able to link the two — having moms available to mentor other moms, especially in special situations like having a special needs child, or having twins.”
Elaina Judge’s talk, “Mother-to-Mother: Why Elizabeth Ministry is so vital in our church today,” which follows, sets the stage for an open group discussion on needs of young families and ways a parish can reach out and encourage young families through coordinated group efforts. Sample resources will be also be available.
“If we want our church to grow stronger and be more vibrant, then we need to focus on the family. Families need to know that they are welcomed in the church, and that the church is there for them in the process of raising their children.”
For more information about the gathering or to register, contact Cathy at 856-308-6469 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Ministry gathering
Friday, Oct. 7, 9-11 a.m.
Our Lady of Peace Parish, St. Joseph’s Room, 32 Carrol Avenue, Williamstown
Contact Cathy at 856-308-6469 or email email@example.com
For more information about Elizabeth Ministry, visit www.elizabethministry.com
For more information about Elizabeth Ministry in the Diocese of Camden, contact Cathy Cipolone, Diocesan Elizabeth Ministry Coordinator, 856-308-6469 or firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the Our Lady of Peace parents’ group, contact Elaina Judge at email@example.com