A small group of women, who are all part of various parish ministries, saw the culmination of a beautiful programme when they officially became Women of Grace (WoG) at their September 3 graduation.
The event fittingly began with Mass at St Anthony’s, Petit Valley, during which they received certificates to commemorate their journey that began on January 6 and ended on June 24.
The ceremony which followed was attended by parish priests Frs Christopher Lumsden and Harold Imamshah as well as Bernadette Patrick, WoG Regional Co-ordinator; Justice Mira Dean-Armorer, guest speaker; programme facilitators Jean Woodroffe and Patricia Franco, and the graduates.
Offering the opening prayer, Fr Lumsden called on graduates to move forward and outward, to be positive influences in the Church and community. Patrick gave the keynote address. She thanked each graduate present for staying the course of this path toward increased knowledge and faith.
The WoG programme, founded by American Johnette Benkovic, teaches a theology for women which reminds women that through Mary’s yes, humanity was saved, and every single woman is called to save humanity. The feminine genius, coined by Pope St John Paul II but first alluded to in exhortations of Pope Pius XII, is highlighted in his letters in which he speaks of women’s unique traits and gifts. These gifts are receptivity, sensitivity, generosity and maternity. It is a woman’s nature to nurture and in so doing she will help save humanity from falling.
Patrick’s impassioned address was followed by guest speaker, Justice Dean-Armorer who spoke of women’s purpose, and firstly, our sameness. Whether Gentile or Jew, servant or free, woman or man, we all have access to God’s grace, she said. Using the acronym TARP she alluded to woman’s uniqueness in her differences: Tact or love; Adoration or love for Jesus; Resilience through which she raises arms of prayer and arms of fasting, her “weapons of warfare”; and Perseverance. These qualities were her difference to man and qualifies her especially to motherhood and helping in humanity’s salvation.
It was woman’s dignity and worth that Dr Debra Bartholomew realised as she journeyed through the WoG programme, as she gave a moving and deeply personal testimony of her life’s experiences with the Blessed Mother, and which culminated with her self-acceptance as she learned truths and made discoveries in this amazing programme.
The Women of Grace programme has now been successfully run in several parishes and continues to grow. – Debra Bartholomew