St. Thérèse is role model for Little Flowers Club for young girls

Our Lady of Fatima Parish starts chapter that encourages youth to grow in virtue

By Emily Booker

Young girls are growing a garden of virtues through the Little Flowers Club at Our Lady of Fatima Parish.

Named after St. Thérèse of Lisieux, known as “the Little Flower,” the Little Flowers Club encourages young girls to grow in virtue. Several mothers in the parish wanted a Scouting-like program for their daughters that would not contradict Catholic teaching. Last year they discovered the Little Flowers Club online and began their own chapter at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Alcoa.

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, OCD, born Jan. 2, 1873, was a French Discalced Carmelite widely venerated in modern times. She is popularly known as “The Little Flower of Jesus” or simply “The Little Flower.”

St. Thérèse has been a highly influential model of sanctity for Catholics and for others because of the “simplicity and practicality of her approach to the spiritual life.”

Together with St. Francis of Assisi, she is one of the most popular saints in the history of the Catholic Church. Pope Pius X called her “the greatest saint of modern times,” while his successor, Pope Pius XI, called her the patroness of the gardens of Vatican City, granting her the title of “Sacred Keeper of the Gardens.”

Her feast day is on Oct. 1.

Starting with just six girls, the Little Flowers Club already has grown to more than 15 participants, ages 5-12.

Every month, the Little Flowers focus on a different virtue, such as faith or love of neighbor. The girls read about a saint, learn a song, and memorize a Scripture verse related to each virtue. To earn badges, they complete activities on living that virtue.

Haley Dirmeyer, who leads the group, said, “I like to talk about the virtues with the girls and get their ideas for how they can show that virtue in their lives at school or with their families, especially with siblings, and I just like to hear how they see these issues as relevant to their own lives.”

Even though the girls are young, they understand that small, loving acts will help them grow in mercy and establish great virtues.

Daughters in the Little Flowers Club presented carnations to their mothers.

The club also helps the girls get involved in parish life. In 2015, the Little Flowers raised money for Water for Life by selling lemonade at the annual Harvest Blessings. Water for Life is an organization that provides clean, safe, and reliable drinking water to places in need.

Also, by partnering with the Council of Catholic Women the girls got to know and work with women in the parish that they might not otherwise.

Miss Dirmeyer said she loves getting to work with the girls each week.

“The friendships they get to have at church are huge because they get to know the other girls and have some social time with them,” she said.

She added, “The girls get to learn a lot about their faith, and they get to know the stories of some wonderful female role models in the Church.”

Inspired by the saints they learn about and the virtues they study, the Little Flowers have told Miss Dirmeyer that they want to be saints themselves, and that’s what the club is working toward. ■

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