Part of military life and being married to a service member means living with knowing that at any moment things can and probably will change.
The members of Catholic Women of the Chapel are familiar with the challenges of having to move often and the process of re-establishing new circles of friends and finding a spiritual community. They hope the group will provide a way for women to connect with one another over a meaningful common denominator — faith.
Exploring what home means
The Catholic Women of the Chapel are starting a new chapter in their study, one that is dedicated to exploring the idea of home and how it relates to each woman in her physical and spiritual life, as well as in marriage.
Laura Wise, the social chairperson, said the discussion leaders are using for the first portion of this spiritual journey is “These Beautiful Bones: An Everyday Theology of the Body” by Emily Stimpson, which follows the theme of home that the group is exploring.
“We’re starting with the home of who we are as people, who we are as women and women of the church,” Wise said.
Home is a landscape, she said, both inner and outer, that is always changing for members of the group who are military spouses. This book study hones-in on that concept as well as each woman’s spiritual home and her relationship to God, her community and her spouse.
“We’re viewing it as the home of our body, the home of our soul, and the home of our relationship with our spouse,” Wise said.
Bernadette Becker, the current CWOC president, said this group is much more than just two days a week of study and fellowship. For her this is a way to become part of a group with shared goals and beliefs.
“It brings a lot of peace knowing that you have this group that you can go into and have a common ground,” Becker said. “Even though we’re women that are in different parts of our lives and even different areas of our faith, whether we’re new to it or living it out daily, it’s a common ground for all women.”
Becker has been part of CWOC for three years and said it has formed a valuable and meaningful part of her spiritual life.
Wise too is grateful for CWOC and that it’s a place where military spouses and Soldiers can find community, she said.
“Moving often is so difficult because it can be hard to find your tribe and your people,” Wise said. “But when I show up at CWOC it doesn’t matter how old people are or how much time their Soldier has in the Army. They very quickly become my people.”
Sometimes it only takes having one thing in common for complete strangers to become close friends, she said.
“We have at least one thing in common and that is that we’re women of faith, and if you have that one thing, you can build so much off of it,” Wise said.
Kellan Beale, the current vice president and spiritual director, also has found a community and support system through CWOC that she had been searching for.
“It has definitely given me an intellectual outlet and a place to connect with other women about ideas in a way that I’ve had a hard time finding communities to do moving around in the military,” Beale said. “I think military spouses especially know the challenge of connecting deeply with people in communities that they’re brand new to and seek a certain kind of intimacy in friendships because we have to create villages wherever we go.”
The value of being part of the group is that Beale has been able to open up because CWOC made her feel safe being vulnerable around new people, she said.