Alaska Catholic women unite to recharge faith


For more than 10 years, Alaska women of all ages have enjoyed a reprieve from their usual daily schedules in the form of “Women’s Morning of Reflection,” a monthly offering at St. Patrick Church in East Anchorage. The event is open to ladies young and old of any parish, and features spiritual reflection, reconciliation and fellowship.

Begun by Saint Patrick’s parishioner Kathy Tappel as a lay ministry, the group invites various priests to address women in a relaxed and personal setting.

Current organizer Chelsea Haponski noted the rejuvenation that follows having a focused time away from the demands of home, if even just for a day.

“This is such a needed and blessed ministry in our community,” she said. “I got involved and started attending about five-plus years ago and loved it.”

The mother of three said it is a “great opportunity for me to re-center myself and be able to give that much more to my family.”

Haponski said it can be hard for women to find time for personal faith development.

“For any moms, this event has gotten even better because of the childcare provided,” she added. “These mini-retreats have young women still in high school all the way up to our seniors of the parish. It is great to see them all come together to better themselves and enjoy the community we have created.”

The monthly gatherings run from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and consist of reflection, confession, praying the rosary and attending Mass. It also includes time for snacks and coffee before two presentations, one by a priest or deacon and another by a local woman. The event ends with a community lunch. Throughout the morning, the parish youth and young adult group coordinate childcare.

St. Patrick’s pastor Father Scott Medlock emphasized that the group has always been an initiative of the laity and fully embraced by the clergy. He called it a low-key, comfortable environment especially cherished by attendees.

Haponski commended the women of the parish and diocese who volunteer each month to speak, lead the rosary, be a sacristan, be a reader, lead music, bring food, launder linens, set-up and clean-up.

“It takes a village and a community to keep something like this going through the years,” she said, “and we have been blessed to achieve that community!”

The next Women’s Morning of Reflection takes place Oct. 6 at 9 a.m. Registration is not required. For more information, contact St. Patrick Church at (907) 337-1538.

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