Start your own Homeplace Wisdom Group!
1. First ask yourself and your friends, why do we want to start this group? Are you in need of fellowship, friendship, and community? Would you benefit from vocational development, intentional time management, and monthly gatherings (and maybe a few laughs with like-minded women?)
Do you see a void in your local resources? Consider the available local Catholic women’s groups.
Do these groups meet the needs you are looking to fill.
Does the current group:
a. Foster strong friendships among Catholic women
b. Support the Homeplace – the workplace for women in the Home (whether working outside the home or not, our Homplace must be strong and inspiring)
c. Admit the age-groups of your prospective group
d. Gather women for monthly or consistent speakers
e. Provide an e-mail or online forum for sharing, learning, and growing
f. Build up and encourage women in their faith, vocation, and families
2. If you find your group distinguishes itself from this group, or if there are no available groups for Catholic women in your local parish or area, maybe you are ready to start a HW group of your own.
3. Talk to women in your parish – older, experienced “Women of Wisdom” and ask them how women’s groups have fared in your parish in the past or how the current groups are doing. Survey the women and see if they are interested in joining your new Homeplace Wisdom group.
4. If you find interest, ask your pastor if you can advertise in the bulletin that you will be having your first gathering of a new Catholic women’s group, Homeplace Wisdom of ____________ (and insert your town or parish name). If you and your pastor wish to have your group associated with the parish, great. If you and he would prefer to keep it private, great. Either way you can advertise in the bulletin and in the bulletin boards of the parish, with his permission.
5. Start an online group. You can use a free yahoo group or a Facebook page, google groups, a fancy webpage, anything you’d like to organize online. Gather friend’s e-mail addresses and phone numbers, and off you go.
6. Create a calendar of speakers. Typically, you will use 80% speakers from your local parish, inviting Women of Wisdom to come and speak to your group on topics relevant to the Homeplace. 10% of the time, parish priests, sisters, and other local guests (husbands, fathers, male friends, experts) can speak to the group. And rarely and wonderfully, if you gather the resources, you can invite popular authors and speakers like Jen Fulwiler, Hallie Lord, Danielle Bean, and others for a yearly treat! You can also invite every few months or so, your own members to provide a presentation on her area of expertise or perhaps an area your group notices she excels in. Most speakers will feel incredibly shy and humble about being asked to speak, and respond that they don’t have any wisdom to offer, but in fact, at the end of these events, people leave with a notebook full of notes. Encouraging women to share their experiences, their wisdom, their fears, their joys, and their sorrows can build a community that will remain strong for years.
7. Rotate homes for hosting events and include a few restaurant outings per year to invite women to treat themselves to a night out. Inviting other mothers to host allows them to enjoy the charity of hosting, gives other moms a break from hosting, and brings joy to her household.
8. Invite members to bring a drink and dish or snack to share. This eases the burden of hosting while allowing everyone to bring something.
9. Encourage members to mingle and gather socially for 30 minutes before the speaker begins. Introduce each speaker and sit and enjoy the talk. Be the moderator if needed. Know the end time for the speaker and help the speaker wrap up close to that time. Invite members to end with a 15-30 minute Q&A. If the members wish, you can invite questions before the evening of the event, then e-mail the questions to the speaker. This is often helpful with popular speakers, giving them time to incorporate the questions into their allotted time.
10. Write a thank you letter to your speakers. Invite your members to do the same.
11. Invite your members to do an annual introduction online or a re-introduction as new members join the group throughout the year.
12. Always welcome everyone to the group and allow members to hop off the list each year if they so choose.
13. Encourage differences of opinion within your group, try to avoid judgments, encourage women where they are and let Our Lord do the rest.
14. Have fun!
15. Contact me if you have any questions.