Finding a place at Mass is relatively easy compared to finding your place within a parish, especially if you’re young.
Sometimes, options for involvement are largely limited to liturgical ministries: Children’s Liturgy of the Word, altar server and children’s choir among them. While they are vital ministries of serving and growing alongside faith formation classes, they’re not often complemented with genuine fellowship.
That’s where programs like the Little Flowers Girls’ Club and its counterpart, the Blue Knights Boys’ Club, come in. One or both clubs operate at select parishes and Catholic homeschool groups throughout the Diocese of Phoenix.
The newest among them is the Little Flowers group at Sacred Heart Parish in Phoenix. It started earlier this year too, and like the rest of them, teaches girls between the ages of 5 and 12 about virtues through Scripture, saints’ biographies and catechesis.
“Our ultimate goal is to grow in our virtues and be faithful,” said Virginia Hernandez, who leads the group.
As a mother of seven ages 1 to 22 and an elementary school teacher, she also sought fellowship for the children. It’s often a faithful group of eight girls in kindergarten through fourth grade who attend from both the English and Spanish-speaking Masses. Little Flowers meet twice a month between the two.
Meetings involve a story plus a related prayer or verse to memorize, craft and snack.
The group is similar to Girl Scouts except that it maintains an institutional Catholic identity, Hernandez said.
Like the Scouts, Little Flowers members are distinguishable by their sashes — a light Blessed Mother tint — and earn flower petals to decorate it. There are four flowers, called wreaths, to earn within as many years. Each wreath has nine related virtues and each virtue has a lengthy list of requirements that range from reading a story to discussing the related virtue with a parent to listing concrete ways to live it out.
The girls learn about things like faith, honesty, trustworthiness, obedience and hope. They talk about how they’re praying with hope for a fallen-away family member and anything else that’s on their hearts.
“St. Monica has been our favorite so far about how she prayed for her son,” Hernandez said.
The Little Flowers Girls’ Club has been in bloom at St. Helen in Glendale since 2009 and even longer as a home-based club. Two of its teenaged graduates still attend to help lead games and activities while completing Our Lady’s Honor Guard requirements of their own via independent study. Their program explores domestic skills — including the kitchen, garden, free time, animals and more — plus diocesan knowledge and in-depth concentrations to the Church and world.
“It’s really fun and we get to learn,” said Ashley Hughes, 13. She treasures the idea of writing down Scripture, being part of a group and earning service stars.
Her friend, Julia Curry, commutes from St. Rose in Anthem. She said the group recently donated funds from a baby bottle drive to Maggie’s Place and visited its Michael House in Glendale.
“I wanted to do something with my faith besides just going to church,” she said. Curry relishes the hands-on activities and helping the young ones.
Blue Knights’ Boys Club
The Little Flowers’ moms take turns serving as teachers, crafters, activity leaders or snack providers. The snacks often relate to the theme too, like when they had a brownie snack resembling a scapular. The club is far from “just a church drop off thing,” said Lisa Hughes, who is in her first year of leading Little Flowers. The moms even opted to meet quarterly on their own.
“I coordinate the hearts of the mothers,” Hughes said. “We pray together and we ask God what our next few meetings are going to be like and it’s amazing how these meetings come together through all the mom’s hearts.”
No one is overburdened and they’ve seen girls grow in confidence. Hughes, a mother of four ages 8 to 15, said Little Flowers helps families support one another in their daughters’ growth.
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