Published January 25, 2007
The Archdiocese of Atlanta is sponsoring the new Our Lady of Grace Discernment Group at Holy Spirit Church to help women discern how God is calling them to holiness, whether through married, single or religious life.
It will begin in February and will be held from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. in Holy Spirit’s St. Mary’s Chapel every fourth Saturday. The program will include Mass, celebrated by Father Ricardo Bailey, breakfast and discussion.
Meeting at the same time for men will be the Pope John Paul II Discernment Group for Men. Men and women will attend Mass and breakfast together and then split off for discussion. In addition, the new St. Theresa Club for High School Girls will meet every second Saturday of the month at Holy Spirit’s St. Mary’s Chapel, starting with Mass at 8:30 a.m.
Holy Spirit’s director of religious education, Heather Triggs, LPC, will lead the women as well as the teenage girls group. She said that while all are called to holiness, the Our Lady of Grace group will help women individually discern their particular vocation, not just to religious life but also to marriage or being single. The licensed professional counselor will help women better discern God’s will for them.
“It will be a great place to explore where God is calling me to. … We’ll look at things they feel really drawn to personally and in prayer. We’ll talk about spiritual direction and the importance of that in making a decision.”
She can also help women find a spiritual director, or suggests that they contact a priest at their parish.
As women consider their path, Sister Margarita Martin, ACJ, vocations director for the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, encourages single women who are active in serving the church and who feel that God is possibly calling them to a deeper level of commitment to consider religious life. Above all they must listen with open hearts to God, who loves them and promises abundant life for the faithful.
“If the woman feels that God wants more of her, that all she’s doing in the church is not enough, that she feels she needs more of a relationship and giving of self to God, she needs to take it seriously because being a Religious is a privilege, being consecrated by God is a real privilege.”
The native of Spain understands the resistance to the consecrated life of poverty, chastity and obedience as she resisted at first, too.
“I was fighting God. I would be a very good Christian and have a wonderful family,” she reflected. “But then it dawned on me; it was a privilege that I was chosen for that. I’ve not regretted it one day. It has been an awesome, wonderful journey.”
She encouraged women to “enter into serious discernment because God is not going to let go that easily. He keeps insisting and insisting. Be brave and take it to prayer.”
If they are not called to religious life there is plenty of time to see that, as after years of formation one has six years of temporal vows before making permanent ones. Little steps a woman can take include getting a trained spiritual director and regularly writing in a diary where she can reflect on feelings and how God is speaking to her. She can also attend a discernment weekend with an order in addition to the archdiocesan Mass. Sister Margarita’s order, the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is planning a discernment retreat in March.
She said that discernment “is driving knowing the light will be coming.”
“It’s taking little steps driving at night, saying we have sufficient light to see the road without waiting to see the whole panorama.”
Other groups assisting in spiritual direction include a discernment group for men and women every first Saturday of the month at the Emory Catholic Center, starting with Mass at 9 a.m. The Vianney Club for High School Guys Northside meets every second Saturday of the month at St. Peter Chanel Church, Roswell, starting with Mass at 10 a.m. The Vianney Club for High School Guys Southside meets every second Wednesday of the month at Our Lady of Mercy High School, Fairburn, starting with Mass at 4 p.m.
Also, Encuentro (Hispanic) meets in Spanish every first Saturday 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at various locations in the archdiocese. Call the Office of Vocations for details.