Tricia Sevidal was a woman on a mission. She, her husband and
their young daughter had moved from Maryland to Virginia, and she desperately
wanted to find a new community of friends. Each day, she would take her
daughter to a playground or on a walk around the neighborhood in the hopes of
striking up a conversation with another mom.
Instead, she found companionship through a mothers group at St.
Mark Church in Vienna. The church nursery where they met became a safe place to
talk about parenting challenges and joys. They talked about preschool and how
to celebrate baptisms and first Communions. They traded recipes and
encouragement. Eventually, they gathered at each other’s homes for pool parties
and holiday get-togethers.
“It gave us a place to grow in our motherly vocation within the
framework of the church,” said Sevidal.
That was more than 20 years ago, but Sevidal still considers the
women she met there some of her closest friends. Her three daughters also
remain friends with the other children. “The Lord answered my prayer for
friends with the St. Mark’s playgroup,” she said.
Young mom Stephanie Pacheco joined a mothers group at St. Philip
Church in Falls Church that was founded two years ago by Christina Landauer.
Unlike most of her peers, Pacheco got married and started a family shortly
after graduating college. “Everything I had known socially was gone,” she said,
and though she was close to some of her college friends, “I still needed day-to-day
accompaniment for my stage in life. I needed mom friends.”
Allison Lunsford and her daughter, Lillian, 1, do a
puzzle during the moms group at St. Leo the Great Church in Fairfax March 7. ZOEY MARAIST | CATHOLIC HERALD
Now Pacheco runs the group in the hopes of offering socially
isolated moms a welcoming community. “It's so important that some institution
meet mothers when everything else is gone, and the church is perfectly poised
to do that,” she said. “The church is there to meet us at every stage of life.”
Over the years, Pacheco has come to see many of the other women
as role models. “I think it's quite difficult to live the stay-at-home mom thing,”
she said. “To see older moms who have survived and who have a really calm,
faithful way about them — it's helped me
trust the wisdom of the church to try and to live it out.”
The St. Philip moms have morning playdates, usually with a snack
and a children’s activity. The moms recite a rosary, even with all the little
interruptions. Mom Karina Rook recently spearheaded an evening speaker series
with free babysitting in the hopes that working mothers can join, too. Members
are encouraged to attend the kid-friendly Holy Half Hour, hosted by the Youth
Apostles, where children can ask questions of the priest during adoration.
Mothers at a group at St. Leo the Great Church in Fairfax have
bimonthly morning meetings and evening Bible studies. They also make meals for
new mothers. On a recent morning, four mothers and their nine children met in
the Our Lady of Guadalupe room in the parish hall. Toddlers played with a blue
toy accordion while older children squished Play-Doh and raced Hot Wheels.
Animal crackers were eaten by all. Moms discussed how to craft Easter egg
Stations of the Cross, and the upcoming Lenten soup supper they were hosting.
David Healy, 9 months, crawls during the moms
group at St. Leo the Great Church in Fairfax. ZOEY MARAIST | CATHOLIC HERALD
Member Allison Lunsford quit her full-time job after the birth of
her second child and soon began looking for fellowship with other adults. She
knows her children enjoy the meetings, too. “I think they need to have social
activities as much as we do,” she said.
Lunsford also meets with moms in her neighborhood, but she and
the other St. Leo moms enjoy sharing the journey of motherhood with women who
share their worldview. “There is so much today about your kids (being)
successful, doing soccer and Spanish, and attending the best school,” said Jane
Dudik, another St. Leo mom. “There are far more important things in life.”
“(I love) the fellowship with other Catholic moms as we strive to
raise little saints,” said Lunsford. She also values the example of the other
families. “Family dynamics are changing so much and I want my kids to grow up
understanding what marriage is, what a true family is supposed to be.”
The St. Leo moms group has been around for some 15 years, but
other groups pop in and out of existence as the need arises. Many women, like
Sevidal, form lasting friendships. But whether the fellowship lasts for a
morning or a lifetime, moms groups provide vital peer support and understanding
to young moms. “Other women came and went but in that moment there were times
of grace and blessing and feeling a part of something bigger than yourself,”
Find a moms group
St. Philip Church in Falls Church: firstname.lastname@example.org
St. Leo Church in Fairfax: email@example.com
Check your parish website to see if there’s a moms group
at your church.