By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
Members of Our Lady of Lourdes Church who participate in the women’s Bible study ministry, Walking With Purpose, say the program has deepened their relationship with Christ and they want others to share in that experience.
On April 24, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Our Lady of Lourdes will discuss the program with members of other parishes interested in offering Walking With Purpose. The “ambassador” event will be held at the parish, 508 Breckenridge Lane.
Parish staff and those who work in women’s ministry are invited to attend. The event is free and will include lunch.
About 50 women participate in the Bible study at Our Lady of Lourdes, which is in its fourth year. Walking With Purpose, is a national ministry created by author Lisa Brenninkmeyer.
Beth Freeman, who helps coordinate the Bible study ministry, and Meredith Gardner, who started the program at Our Lady of Lourdes, discussed the program during an interview March 26.
The way the women have embraced the program shows there was a “hunger and need” for it, said Freeman. “Women were craving a deeper relationship with Christ through Bible study.”
The program calls for study groups — beginner, intermediate and advanced — that meet for two hours on Monday evenings. The study runs for 22 weeks — starting in September and wrapping up during Holy Week.
Karen Graehler, a mother of five who’s on the cusp of being an “empty-nester,” said “having the opportunity to meet other women on a spiritual level has nourished me in ways I didn’t know I was missing. It keeps my focus on Christ.”
The “biggest blessing” is that the group is made up of women of “all ages and in all phases of life,” said Graehler during the March 26 interview,
where several participants shared their experiences.
Barbara Gorman, who has nine grandchildren, and Sarah Candler, a new mother to a a six-week-old baby and a toddler, said they felt the same way about Walking With Purpose.
Gorman said the ministry has increased her prayer life.
“We pray for each other,” she said. “You really feel his (Christ’s) love through group sharing.”
Gardner, who started the program here, said women tend to compare themselves to others and end up feeling like they’re not good enough. Sharing their struggles during Bible study helps her and the other women feel good about life, she noted.
Candler said the group has helped her appreciate the stage of life she is in.
“As a new mother, it is enriching to see the other women in different stages. It makes you feel less alone in the struggles of life,” she said.
They all agreed it was important to create space for the Bible study.
“The Word comes alive” during Bible study, said Freeman. The stories in the bible are “incredibly rich” and the lessons are relevant.
“The word is fresh and alive in our lives,” said Freeman. She particularly likes that Walking With Purpose ties together Scripture and teachings from the catechism.
The ministry has also helped deepen their relationship with Christ, the women said. Having a relationship with Christ is the “difference between just living in this world and truly being alive,” said Graehler, the soon-to-be empty nester. The Bible study group, she noted, “brings Christ into everyday life. It’s like oxygen; it’s that life-giving.”
Gardner said she wanted to pass her faith to her children, but knew she needed a stronger foundation. Walking With Purpose has provided it, she said.
She now leads the parish’s Bible study group for middle school girls — an effort that started last spring. The program, called Blaze, was written by the author of Walking With Purpose, especially for young girls. Fourteen sixth-grade girls who attend Our Lady of Lourdes School participate in the group.
The group, which includes Gardner’s 11-year-old daughter, Anna, meets for Bible study during their lunch hour on Mondays. They are currently discussing “truth versus lies,” said Gardner. During the study, they discuss a “specific lie the world tells our girls,” she said. Then they turn to the Bible to find the truth and talk about ways they can apply it to their lives.
During their study March 26, the group discussed the lie, “If I’m not perfect, I’m not worthy of love.”
The truth, Gardner shared with the girls, is: “God loves us just as we are. We need to do nothing to earn his love and there’s nothing we can do to lose his love.”
Anna Gardner said Blaze has helped her “find comfort in knowing God loves” her.
“God made everyone unique and he loves you no matter if you sin or tell a lie,” she said. Her studies have given her the confidence to discern a truth from a lie, she said. Blaze is a good way for girls to find God, she added.