Leaders for the new Phoenix chapter of Magnificat pose for a photo June 25. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Leaders for the new Phoenix chapter of Magnificat pose for a photo June 25. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Phoenix Magnificat

Magnificat logoWhat: Inaugural meal

When: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sept. 19

Where: St. Helen Parish, 5510 W. Cholla St., Glendale

Cost: $15 per ticket at eventbrite.com or mail to Magnificat Phoenix, c/o Holly Burke, 6230 W. Mary Jane Lane, Glendale 85306

Info: Facebook.com/PhoenixMagnificat or call Holly at (602) 298-7769

An emerging Arizona chapter of an international peer ministry to Catholic women is taking root in the Diocese of Phoenix.

Catholic women from throughout the Valley have been in formation for two years and are eager to see a slew of fresh faces at an inaugural meal. Catholic women and their friends of any or no faith are invited.

The Sept. 19 luncheon at St. Helen Parish in Glendale will mark the first of quarterly gatherings focused on bringing women together over a meal, song and prayer. Organizers say each meal, which also includes one person’s testimony, is a means of following the example of the Blessed Mother’s “Magnificat” when she visited Elizabeth. Each testimony will offer a new magnificat — words of praise — detailing how God has deeply touched a woman’s life.

Barbara Serba, the ministry’s regional director in the south central region, will speak at the inaugural meal. Several diocesan women have met her through Magnificat chapters they have attended or visited.

“The Holy Spirit really moves in this ministry and it really enlivens the diocese it goes into,” said Laurie Walsh, coordinator for the Phoenix chapter of Magnificat, and St. Helen parishioner.

Magnificat is officially in 15 countries and 81 U.S. cities. Another 25 chapters are in formation across the U.S. and Canada.

“It’s really a time for fellowship and a chance to talk in an atmosphere of God’s presence and love,” Walsh said.

She was among several Phoenix Magnificat leaders who noted that the meals often serve as effective evangelization tools. They said it could be easier to invite a non-believer or someone who has fallen away from the Church to a faith-based social occasion than to Mass or a prayer meeting. The meals also serve as an opportunity to reinvigorate the faith for current Catholics.

“Women need to be heard in a safe place. When they hear the witness of another woman who was broken and made whole, not overnight,” it’s healing and empowering, Maureen Knight, secretary for Phoenix Magnificat and parishioner at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish in Sun City, explained to The Catholic Sun. “We’re all wounded healers.”

Holly Burke, a St. Helen parishioner and treasurer for the ministry, was once in a Magnificat chapter some 20 years ago. She said it’s powerful to see so many Catholic women in praise and worship at the same time, whether it’s at a large conference or a local chapter meeting.

“It’s like you meet these women for the first time and you feel like you’ve known them forever,” Burke said.

Local chapter leaders have been gearing up to make new Catholic friends at the inaugural meal. They vowed to keep the ministry affordable for the peers they serve. Lunch tickets are $15 each with a small maintenance cost added for online reservations. Testimonies are generally appropriate for adults, but discretion is used for teenage girls.

“The world is evangelizing women. We want the Church to evangelize women,” Walsh said, noting that the morality of any culture often depends on the morality of its women.

Phoenix Magnificat leaders are still looking for table hostesses. Other volunteers are welcome to serve at the event or on committees in areas such as hospitality, greeters and tickets. Between gatherings, the group’s charism is praying for priests.