Reinvigorated Catholic Women Invigorate Their Parish
Do-it-yourself ENDOW small-group study program is inspiring hundreds of Catholic women by teaching their true dignity and vocation in the Church and the world.
I've watched ENDOW help women live life fully; I've seen it form them into healthy, happy women who are proud of their Catholic faith. It's the best theology and spirituality for women that I've seen, and of course it is totally faithful to the teachings of the Church. There is something special going on with ENDOW. It's the right thing and it fits. I hope it spreads.
Rev. Andrew Kemberling, Archdiocese of Denver
The need it meets
The false feminism of the past few decades has divided women and downplayed their unique feminine gifts, including the gift of motherhood. The ENDOW study program, based on the "new feminism" of John Paul II, has had marked success helping women understand their value as persons and their unique vocation in the Church and society.
Where it came from
ENDOW was co-founded in April 2003 by three women -- Betsy Considine, Marilyn Coors and Terry Polakovic -- who were inspired by the writings and teachings of Pope John Paul II.
Today, ENDOW is governed by a board of directors with spiritual, administrative and philosophical support from an advisory council. Its curriculum has received the Imprimatur from Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, who says:
‚ÄúENDOW has developed very rapidly into one of the most dynamic and important new apostolates in the Church. Women have a vital leadership vocation in the family, in the professions and in the Church, and ENDOW does extraordinary work in reconnecting Catholic women with their faith. There is no other movement quite like it. ENDOW has my gratitude and enthusiastic support.‚Äù
Archbishop Charles Chaput
Archdiocese of Denver
How it works
ENDOW is a study program for groups of 8-12 women.
Study guides are based on John Paul II's "Letter to Women" and his encyclical letter, Mulieris Dignitatem. More study topics are available online (http://www.endowonline.com/endow-classes) upon completion of the first guides.
Each book has 8 chapters, and can be covered over the course of a year. Meeting times can be adapted to the needs of the group. Some meet once a week in one-hour sessions. Others meet biweekly for two-hour sessions or once a month for an afternoon.
The group reads the material aloud together and discusses the content using the questions provided. There is no homework involved.
Study groups are led by ENDOW-approved facilitators. No philosophical or theological training is needed to be a facilitator, but ENDOW does offer on-site training and additional support materials.
The ENDOW program has been running at St Thomas More parish in Centennial, CO, for 3 years. Well over 200 women have participated each year.
Fr. Kemberling has observed the following results:
Healthy, happy women with a positive attitude toward themselves and their role in the world. Many have had a deep conversion to the fullness of the Catholic faith, some after years of entrenchment in false forms of feminism.
Enriched families/marriages/relationships: As the women learned more about their own dignity and vocation to love, their relationships have been strengthened and, in some cases, saved.
Increased commitment in the parish and community. As the women gained confidence in themselves and enthusiasm for their Catholic faith, they became more actively involved in the work of the parish as Bible study leaders, catechism teachers, newsletter writers, fundraising organizers, lectors, ushers, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharistic, etc.
The ENDOW program is operative in 23 dioceses of the USA.
Facilitators. Any interested woman can become a facilitator; her role is simply to bring the women together and lead them through the study guide. She is a coordinator and a hostess.
Permission from the bishop. ENDOW's policy is to request permission from the local bishop before offering classes in his diocese. ENDOW can send the permission request on behalf of a pastor or parishioner who wants to start up the program.
Promotion. ENDOW provides marketing materials on its web site (http://www.endowonline.org)
How to implement it
Select a lay woman with leadership skills to spearhead ENDOW in the parish.
She requests permission from the bishop (ENDOW provides form letters for this purpose at its Web site).
She promotes the program and gathers a group of 8-12 women.
The group registers online at the ENDOW web site. Materials can also be purchased there.
Testimonies from ENDOW participants:
ENDOW radically altered my life, my perception of my vocation, and my joy in daily living through the faith as explained by our Holy Father John Paul II in his Letter to Women and later in the beautiful Mulieres Dignitatem. I was not prepared for the impact delving into the writings of the Church on the subject of authentic femininity would have on me. ENDOW brought me an unimaginable joy and a deep peace in my daily vocation as mother, wife and daughter which stay with me to this day. I am now fortunate enough to serve as a facilitator for ENDOW, and I cannot recommend this program enough. ‚Äì Nina Bryhn, participant and facilitator
Rev. Andrew Kemberling is pastor of
St. Thomas More Catholic Church.