Widows and widowers ministry starts at Our Lady of Fatima

A new ministry for widows and widowers has emerged at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Alcoa.

In recent months, the ministry has grown from a handful of members to 22 and has a diverse group of men and women that provides a wealth of experience. The initial meeting was an endeavor to learn more about one another and everyone’s journey through widowhood, and from that was forged a support group of caring, compassionate friends that has since shared tears of endearment and of joy, finding solace in the comfort of one another’s company.

Ministry leaders quickly realized that the group was more than widows and widowers and as such adopted a patroness, St. Paula of Rome, the patron saint of widows and widowers who was a wealthy Roman citizen (347-404 AD) who became widowed at the age of 32 and was mother to five children. Her legacy is that of translating Greek biblical texts for St. Jerome’s Latin version of the Bible.

The ministry has had guest speakers from the community who brought enlightenment to the group and even inspired some to become volunteers. While members are not trained in grief support, they have benefited from guest speakers who offered bereavement/loss counseling by pointing out that grief and loss do not have an expiration date. Mourning, as with all aspects of life, is unique and individual. The group has discovered acceptance, coping, and forging a new life while keeping the memories of loved ones close to their hearts.

Sharing these thoughts and feelings bring acknowledgment and reaffirmation that God blessed the members of the ministry with their loved ones and is blessing them to share themselves in new and meaningful ways. They enjoy the beauty of creation by sharing walks, hikes, meals, musical performances, and reading circles, and by touring local sights. Many are volunteers at nonprofits such as the local food pantry, homeless shelters, and community-support agencies that provide financial assistance to avoid homelessness. Group members have taken their sorrow and replaced it with rewarding endeavors that have enhanced their own growth and healing.

The St. Paula’s Widows and Widowers Ministry meets at 12:45 p.m. on third Tuesdays in the Knights of Columbus Room at Our Lady of Fatima Church, and members enjoy friendship, share birthday celebrations, offer prayers and support for those in need, and enjoy one another’s stories and adventures. Sharing and caring is the group’s mission, and anyone is invited to join.
Contact Kathleen at 865-548-5410 or gedi0529@gmail.com for more details.

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