GREENWICH, Connecticut — In 2002, Lisa Brenninkmeyer, a young converted Catholic mother, could not find any relevant new Bible studies where she could meet and dialogue with other women who were following the same path in life. Just as necessity is the mother of invention, Walking with Purpose was born in a parish community in Maryland when Brenninkmeyer began a Bible study with a handful of women. Today, the program is active in 400 parishes in 94 dioceses in 40 states as well as in Europe and Canada. Although Walking with Purpose was rooted in face-to-face meetings, with parishes closing earlier this year due to COVID-19, it turned into a virtual study that became a lifeline for women during this period of isolation.
In recent months, more and more parishes across the United States and Canada have signed up to do the Walking with Purpose small group Bible studies, even though many parishioners cannot gather in person due to of the pandemic.
To meet the changing needs of participants during this time, Walking with Purpose Bible studies have been redesigned to help women meet outside of the traditional parish setting. “We’ve spent the past few months reinventing how women can lead a small Walking with Purpose Bible study group. We now have strong training and tools to help women do WWP in a virtual setting, online, or in other settings outside of the parish,” said Brenninkmeyer, Founder and Goals Director of the WWP.
Amber Sherman is leader of a small WWP group at St. Thomas Aquinas in Wichita, Kan., where virtual Bible study groups have already begun. Says Amber, “WWP is so vital and so accommodating to the circumstances we face – steadfast, present, ready to serve and love the women in our parish no matter how comfortable they feel. Zoom meetings were just as enjoyable as being together.
Walking with Purpose parish programs focus on converting a woman’s heart and how that conversion applies to her daily life. The women forge lasting friendships through a WWP parish program, where they support each other and learn together how to apply the truths of Scripture in the face of life’s challenges.
Jill Vollmer began participating in WWP in 2010, then launched a program in her home parish five years later in a coordinator role. She now helps with marketing and promotion of the local program and acts as a national advisor to the management team. “For me, it changed my life. Even growing up Catholic my faith fluctuated, but when I started doing Walking with Purpose it opened my eyes to the beauty of the Catholic Church and the understanding that God wants us to live our best life. . Meeting this group of women made me want to share with others and reach more women. I find it so satisfying.
There are currently nine WWP Bible studies that adult women can do in groups, although parishes are encouraged to start with the foundational 22-lesson study, Open your heart The starting pointwhat Brenninkmeyer calls “an exciting journey closer to the heart of God”.
The Church of the Sacred Heart in Valley Park, Missouri, also made the decision recently to bring Walking with Purpose to their parish, where they will attempt to meet in person this fall in a socially distanced manner. Said Ami Hammett, pastoral coordinator at Sacred Heart, “Sometimes it is when I feel compelled to do something, even though there are many obstacles to overcome, that the Holy Spirit leads the way. And that’s certainly what happened when we discussed hosting an in-person WWP study in the fall. We look forward to seeing what God has planned for all participants and we will continue to trust Him even if things change along the way.
According to Julie Ricciardi, CEO of WWP, “Women don’t want to feel isolated. They crave community with other women. We have therefore developed a number of tools as well as training videos and webinars, all to make it easier to conduct a virtual Bible study and to enable women to lead with confidence, knowing that they are doing the work of the Christ to open hearts to God.
For more information on starting a Walking with Purpose Bible study, visit https://walkingwithpurpose.com/become-a-leader/
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Walking with Purpose is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization headquartered in Greenwich, Connecticut. Our mission is to help every Catholic woman and girl in America open her heart to Jesus Christ. Learn more about http://walkingwithpurpose.com.