Beginning Experience ministry makes debut

BEET (Beginning Experience East Tennessee) is a relatively new ministry in Tennessee; however, the development of the ministry dates back to 1974 in Fort Worth, Texas, to the efforts of Sister Josephine Stewart, SSMN, a family therapist, and Jo Lamia, a divorced woman and educator.

The mission of this ministry is to facilitate the grief-resolution process for adults who have suffered loss through death, divorce, or separation, thereby enabling them to again love themselves, others, and God. The ministry accomplishes this purpose by offering quality, copyrighted grief-resolution programs presented by trained peer ministers during a weekend retreat.

The ministry in Tennessee was introduced to the diocese by Georgia Sergeant. Georgia had attended her retreat weekend in Cincinnati and felt that the ministry was needed in East Tennessee. Through prayer and hard work, the first two retreats in Tennessee were coordinated with the BE team from Ohio. Members from their group faithfully drove the distance to assist the East Tennessee ministry, and the local group had its first solo retreat at the Christ Prince of Peace Retreat Center in October 2013 in Benton. The ministry will hold its May 2-4 and Oct. 24-26 retreats at the Carson Baptist Retreat Center in Newport.

The ministry recently celebrated the installation of its first BEET board with the help of Marian Christiana and Karen Byrne at Sacred Heart Cathedral’s Shea Room. The group had team training and a presentation on the grieving process by its psychologist liaison through Catholic Charities in Chattanooga, Kathleen Hotton.

Board members are Lisa Moore of Chattanooga, president; Maria Curd of Johnson City, vice president and weekend coordinator; Doug Spangler of Crossville, fundraising and publicity; Beverly Short of Chattanooga, treasurer; Deidre Diener of Knoxville, secretary; and Eleonora Larrazabel of Knoxville, spirituality.

This ministry is Catholic but open to all, and it is reaching out to the Hispanic community as well and has plans for interpreters to assist during weekend retreats.

Look for more information on the ministry in your church bulletin or go online at