I'm Natalie Gifford, the founder and visionary behind Women at Well. I wanted to give a little backstory into how it all started.
In 2012 I was joining the Catholic Church, I told Fr Harr "I will join the Church, but I have this Moms group at the E-Free church that I go to weekly. That group is my life-line as a stay at home mom and I really don't want to leave it. Fr Harr assured me that I did not have to leave my moms group once I joined the Chatholic Church. Be he also challenged my by saying "Don't you think we need something like that here?"
So, I met with the current DRE and we started a Moms group at the Catholic Church I was now attending. We met for a few years, the group seemed to ebb and flow as the liturngical seasons changed and I was able to connect with a lot of women in the parish that I would not have connected with outside of a Sunday Mass.
My family had to relocate to Lincoln, NE and I was able to again, start a MOMS group and meet other moms and connect with women outside of the regular Sunday Mass attendance. It was a great way to build community and grow in our faith together.
Our family had to relocate again, to North Platte, NE. This time I knew I wanted to start another MOMS group, but I also wanted to create an event where all women of the parish could come together. I had recently been sitting with the passage of the Women at the Well in John 4 and I felt really drawn to the story of Jesus Encountering the Samaritan woman at the well.
Inspired by this story I decided to call the group Women at the Well and I decided to create Encounter events at Advent and Lent. This would be a time when all the women of the parish could come together to build community, and then have a moment of Encounter with Jesus truly present in the Eucharist for Adoration and then in persona cristi in the priest through confessions.
The event was so monumental to bringing women together, but also helping them to grow in their personal relationship with Jesus.
Women from all the parishes in town attended the event and were so happy for the oppurtunity. After that first event in my local parish Kristin reached out and said, 'How can we host this event at our parish?" So we did, we held multiple events at parishes across the diocese of Grand Island that Advent.
For Lent in 2020 I reached out to a speaker to see if she could host virtually so that all the parishes that wanted to have an event could all be signed into the guest speaker on the same night at the same time. The speaker, Lisa Cotter, graciously agreed to give the virtual thing a try and see how it would work. That event we had 6 parishes sign in from across Nebraska to watch Lisa Cotter present and then they all attended a full hour of Adoration + Confessions at their parish. It was another monumental moment of unity by utlizing technology to bring us all together. I joke that we were using Zoom to build community before Zoom was even a thing!!
Since then we have hosted multiple Encounter events using Zoom for the virtual guest speakers. We have had over 12 different parishes from across 3 different dioceses in Nebraska & Colorado join together for these events. We have been able to access amazing virtual guest speakers that encourage and inspire us to grow in our faith. The heartflet confessions during Adoration are so moving and a great way to start the season.
We hope you will plan to join us for the Encounter events the first Sunday of Advent and the Sunday before Ash Wednesday in Lent.
While you are there you can grab one of our Abide IN daily prayer journals to carry you through the season. If you would want to meet as a group to discuss these journals, you can grab the Gather group guide to help you gather. Or even check out the book club book list for an idea of how to continue to grow in Faith + Community outside of Advent and Lent.
Let us continue to grow in our Faith and build Community.
St Photini, the original women at the well, pray for us.
We live in unprecedented times where we are seeing Mass attendance at an all time low
· According to the pew research study Less than ½ of American Catholics attend Mass monthly … the number drops significantly when asked if they attend Mass weekly
· 24% of Catholics say their faith was strengthened by the pandemic, but that leaves 63% to say that nothing changed over the course of the pandemic, leaving the pew research study to conclude that the people who were religious before the pandemic were most likely to say their faith has grown
· The fastest growing group among American religious groups is the “nones” those claiming no affiliations with a religion. Over 40% of millennials identify as a none.
At Women at Well we desire to create the space for Catholic women to come together to grow in Faith and build community. This is done through Encounter events at Advent and Lent. These encounter events offer the opportunity for women to come back to Confession. Truly encounter Jesus present in the Eucharist for Eucharistic Adoration. And return their hearts back to growing in their faith by meeting other women to walk their faith journey with.
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