By Deacon Tom Picciano
Sun contributing writer
ENDWELL — On a recent evening, seven members of the Mother’s Group at Holy Family Church gathered to do what they’ve done for many years: talk. It’s difficult to get a question in as their words bounce around the table going from topic to topic. A member of the Holy Name Society poked his head inside the classroom door and tentatively said, “I’m looking for someone.” But when he saw the women, he realized he’d walked into the wrong room.
The Mother’s Group was founded in 1966 at what was then Our Lady of Angels Parish. It’s been known more commonly as the Women’s Discussion Group most of that time. In the beginning, there were so many women that it had to be split into two groups — one for those with 7 or more children, the other for those with fewer than 7 children. Meetings were held in homes. Membership is now about 30, with monthly meetings held at the church.
Their guide for discussion all these years has come from a program in the Diocese of Buffalo. Originally, the women were required to submit reports after meetings to the leaders in Buffalo, but that’s long since passed. The guide indicates that the discussion program was designed to “meet individual needs, to be flexible and to change with the times.”
The guide also says “an increased knowledge of self and others can be gained in the group.” It adds that increased self-confidence and maturity will help members meet the challenges of the world and be a source of growth for everyone they meet.
Some of the group members still have teenage children. But many of the long-time members have made a transition from raising children to becoming grandmothers.
Several years ago, one woman asked the group for ideas to get her children to come to dinner on time. Several suggestions were made, including ringing a bell. The mother later reported back that all the children — and the husband — started coming to dinner on time when the bell rang.
Now, many of the women are ready to pass child-rearing advice to their children who have become parents. But they don’t step in with suggestions. Group member Bev Musa added, “If only they would ask.”
The group has no leader. Discussions are conducted by a volunteer leader for the month.
Each year there are a variety of topics, such as talents, acceptance, and body, mind and spirit. But the discussion often leads to other items, like weddings, births and caring for aging parents.
“A lot of topics talk about challenges that we all have in our world,” said Pat Asselta. “We discuss it and we have other people’s opinions on what they feel. And it’s an awareness for each one of us.”
“Everyone has an opportunity to add to it,” said Pat Walsh.
“Since we’re all the same gender, it’s very comfortable. Because you can talk about your past,” she said. “What is going on today — especially what is going on today, because our children are grown and we’re watching our grandchildren and we’re very concerned.”
Faith, past and present, also enters the discussion. “Everything we say or do is in the Christian way,” Walsh added.
No member is forced to participate, but each is welcome to add her opinion. Some sign up to bring desserts. Each person is asked to contribute $5 to a “sunshine fund” and to pay for her discussion guide.
“I think they’re coming for the food,” joked Jeanne Hazen. On a serious note, Hazen feels each parish should have a similar women’s discussion group. She thinks it’s beneficial to the church.
A Ministry Fair at the parish attracted some attention to the group. New members have been added recently. Others who’ve left the parish for other parts of the country still remain as members and receive information on the group’s activities.
Holy Family’s Women’s Discussion Group meets the third Thursday of the month — October through May — at 7:30 p.m. Group members are willing to share information with others on how to get started in their own parish. You can contact the group by calling the parish office at (607) 754-1266.