JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, WA – Women are no doubt the unsung heroes of Catholic family life in the United States Military. Those on active duty, like their male counterparts, must endure painful separations from their spouses and children while on long deployments. Those not in uniform themselves but married to active-duty servicemen are left to do the parenting, pay the bills, and manage the household while their husbands are away for months on end. Women in these circumstances have many common interests and concerns, but the transient military lifestyle, where families change duty stations every two or three years, makes it hard to build lasting support groups or ministries of faith.
Now, Joyful Momentum (Ave Maria Press), a new book by Ms. Elizabeth A. Tomlin, Esq., provides a road map to building a vibrant, self-sustaining Catholic women’s ministry, whether on a military installation or, for that matter, in a civilian parish. Women’s ministry is a key component of any Catholic faith community, according to Ms. Tomlin, who for nearly a decade has launched and grown Catholic women’s ministries in the U.S. and abroad. In Joyful Momentum, Ms. Tomlin shows readers how to start, expand, strengthen, or retool an existing women’s group or ministry, whether for moms with young children, a spiritual book club, or some other purpose of particular interest to the participating Catholic women.
Ms. Tomlin has an abundance of personal and professional experience and education upon which she can draw. She is the wife of an active-duty U.S. Army officer, the mother of three, and a founding member and past president of the Military Council of Catholic Women Worldwide, the women’s ministry arm of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA (AMS). A civil lawyer, she is also the AMS’s General Counsel.
“I wrote the book because every time I visited a different chapel within the Archdiocese to talk about women’s ministry,” she says, “people would say, ‘how do you do this?’ Or, they would express that they wanted to bring more people into their group but didn’t know how to make the invitation that would appeal to more people, or they wanted to work more effectively with their priest or parish coordinator, but they needed ideas on how to do that. So I took lessons learned working with the Military Council of Catholic Women, and put them into a book that comprised eight chapters that addressed a different best practice for every chapter.”
The result is a 192-page volume—two years in the making—that is as much a collection of compelling personal stories as it is a handbook of helpful tips and more. The book enjoys enthusiastic reviews from a wide range of Catholic thinkers and professionals involved in women’s ministry, including Ms. Michele Faehnle, Codirector of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference and Coauthor of The Friendship Project, and it bears the imprimatur of His Excellency, the Most Reverend Timothy P. Broglio, J.C.D., Archbishop for the Military Services.
“In the personal stories,” Ms. Tomlin says, “some are mine and some are from people that I’ve met along the way, so every chapter is structured where there are some personal stories at the beginning of the chapter, and then there’s a woman saint whose life or work mirrors in a way what the chapter is about, with Church teaching intermixed, and then a section called ‘Momentum Builders,’ and the momentum builders are really the practical and tactical tools to incorporate the theme of the chapter.”
The chapter themes are generally reflected in their titles:
- Foundational Relationships: The Favor of Spiritual Friendship
- A Call within a Call: Discerning a Vocation to Women’s Ministry
- United in Hope: Cultivating Christian Hospitality
- Gifted to Serve: Offering Our Charisms
- Go to the Well: “Inreach” and Outreach
- Return to Draw Water: Practicing Assessment
- Go to Your Sister: Resolving Conflict with Mercy
- Passing the Baton: Membership and Accompaniment