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Catholic family
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A Family to Family

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Changing role
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Parish groups
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Catholic Daughters
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James Barnes

Tri-Valley KOC
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Holy week
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Music concert
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placeholder May 5, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Catholic Women

A few of the 100 members of WINGS at St. Raymond's.
Courtesy photo

Parish groups enrich faith, spiritual growth
Women in God's Spirit
St. Raymond Church
11555 Shannon Ave., Dublin

The purpose of WINGS — Women in God's Spirit — is to enrich the faith and spiritual growth of the women of St. Raymond.

Brought to St. Raymond Parish 15 years ago by a woman who had experienced faith-sharing groups in her parish in Yorba Linda, WINGS has not only thrived at the Dublin parish, but taken flight to nearby parishes. Among those with WINGS groups are the Catholic Community of Pleasanton, St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Livermore and St. Theresa Parish in Oakland.

At St. Raymond, WINGS meets from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesdays, October through May. The group is open to any woman who wants to come, said Geri Cooney, organization facilitator. While many of the women are from St. Raymond Parish in Dublin, others come from Castro Valley, Danville, Hayward and Oakland, among other places.

The Pleasanton group, Cooney said, meets in the evenings, providing an opportunity for women who are unable to attend a morning session.

Getting a job or moving away are the main reasons members leave, although those who can't attend weekly are encouraged to come when they can, Cooney said. New members might include newly retired women who have had WINGS on their "bucket list."

In Dublin, at least a dozen members are from the original membership. In that first year, there were 60 members; that number has grown to 100.

WINGS' goal is for women of all ages in the community to grow in their relationship with God and each other. "A lot of blessings come with it," Cooney said.

They meet from October to May, dividing the year into three topics. In the fall, the focus is on the Catholic faith, with speakers including priests, Sisters and laity on topics pertaining to the faith.

Winter is the time for Scripture study, with the WINGS members selected to speak. A speaker might discuss the Sunday readings, and perhaps offer personal testimony on how the readings relate to her life.

In spring, it's Faith in Action, bringing to the group speakers who are out in the world.

Each weekly session begins with fellowship and hospitality; at 9:30 a.m. the program begins; after that, the women break into color-coded small groups. These small groups will meet together throughout the year.

"You really bond with these ladies," Cooney said.

Each small group has a pair of shepherds. The group will pray for personal intentions, and discuss the speaker and how it relates to their lives.

"It's really a midweek renewal," said Cooney. "I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in so many different ways," she said.

Women of all ages are welcome to join WINGS. At St. Raymond, child care is provided. The annual registration fee is $30, which helps provide stipends for the speakers and pays for the child care providers.

Don't let $30 stand between you and becoming a member, Cooney said. No one is turned away for lack of funds.

Although WINGS is not a service organization, "we do outreach projects," Cooney said. After a speaker from the Monument Crisis Center told WINGS about the group's work with senior citizens in Concord, WINGS members made bunches of goodie bags for them. A Girl Scout once asked for their help in preparing a holiday party for children in Richmond. WINGS members brought pajamas. Twice a year, as a group, WINGS members make no-sew fleece blankets for foster children.

WINGS at St. Raymond recently celebrated 15 years, inviting priests who have helped them along the way, and inviting former members, to come back and join the party. The day began with Mass, followed by a speaker. Cake and balloons? They had those, too.

If you come to WINGS, be prepared to leave inspired, Cooney said, and to grow in patience, understanding and compassion. "It affects the way you treat everybody else you run into, in the community and in the family."

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