From the time I waded through a broken engagement in my early twenties to my current season of marriage and motherhood in my early thirties, I’ve seen the value of having a close-knit group of women to walk alongside each other during life. Even more treasured is when that group of women shares your faith and can encourage you in truth and virtue in addition to the laughs and lattes.
I don’t think I’m alone in realizing the need for a sisterhood. Yet the bigger question in our social-media-saturated-culture seems to be how do you create one in real life? Author Elizabeth Tomlin’s recently published book Joyful Momentum holds a wealth of information on that question. Because I’ve long been passionate about “growing and sustaining vibrant women’s groups” as the subtitle of the book says, I jumped at the chance to read and review her book. What I didn’t expect was how well-written and thought-provoking it would be. Rather than a surface level “how-to” manual, the book explores the “why” of women’s ministry — how our involvement can be an actual calling, a vocation within a vocation, and how that calling might manifest in different ways based on our God-given gifts and abilities.
I enjoyed the personal stories the author shared of her own experiences in women’s ministry and was impressed by her work with the Military Council of Catholic Women Worldwide for the military archdiocese. I also appreciated that each chapter included the practical “Momentum Builder” tips as well as a Scripture reflection with discussion questions. There were even stories of women saints and their examples (and struggles!) in women’s ministry. The chapters on discerning our involvement in women’s ministry as well as discerning our particular spiritual gifts and practical talents were excellent.
At times I did feel that the focus of the book was on larger-sized, parish-based ministry whereas I tend towards smaller, home-based women’s ministry but it was good for me to wrestle with that difference and reflect on why I have that personal tendency. It was helpful to ponder the great need in our parishes for strong women’s ministries and the amount of good it can do not only for the parish and our individual lives but also the greater community and the world.
Joyful Momentum made me grateful for my current community of Catholic women and it challenged me to consider ways in which we can grow as a group as well as invite others in. I would recommend this book for any women whether or not she is involved in ministry. If you are feeling isolated and in need of a spiritual circle of women, this book is for you. If you are already part of a vibrant Catholic community, this book is for you too! Whether you’re lonely, bored, over-committed, or burnt out by ministry, this book is still for you!
In a world that’s aching for Jesus (not only outside the Church but within as well), women have a unique ability to reach out, invite in, and share our hearts in ways that can literally change lives for eternity. We can make a difference in our parishes and Catholic communities but that starts with the kind of intentional conversation and earnest prayer this book will inspire.
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Copyright 2020 Laura Range