Women of Saint Ignatius Spiritual Adviser Michelle Taylor speaks at the WOSI, Catholic Women of the Chapel WOSI Advent Retreat Dec. 9 at Pioneer Chapel. Photo by WOSI President Karen Patterson

Charlotte Richter | Staff Writer

Two Fort Leavenworth women’s religious organizations recently hosted fellowship-themed Christmas and Advent programs to celebrate the season.

The Protestant Women of the Chapel gathered for the group’s Christmas program to listen to guest speaker Tracy Dougherty and meet for fellowship and refreshments Dec. 7 at Frontier Chapel.

Vice President of Programs Cassie Ward said the 2021 Christmas program, themed “Holly and Ivy,” was for fellowship and to remember why the group comes together.

Ward said she and PWOC member Heather Anne Ward considered songs, decor and a
child-friendly menu during event planning. Many women attending the program brought
their children. Ward said she wanted to include them to make Bible study easier.

“I center around children sometimes because they may drop by and we don’t have child care right now,” Ward said. “I wanted the moms, if they can relax, to at least know their
kids are loved over here and do not have to worry about that.”

Protestant Women of the Chapel President Jodi Billquist opens the PWOC Christmas program, Holly and Ivy, by making organizational announcements and encouraging members to attend upcoming events Dec. 7 in Frontier Chapel. Photo by Charlotte Richter/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

She said the Christmas season allows the group to come together and serve each other. She said she enjoys being of service to moms in PWOC as a mother herself, and that Christmas for her includes showing love to people who work with her family, such as her children’s teachers.

PWOC President Jodi Billquist said the Christmas program theme coincided with PWOC’s theme for the year, “Better Together.” She said holly and ivy look beautiful together and represent the story of Mary and Elizabeth. Dougherty told the story of Mary and Elizabeth to illustrate how the group can be supportive of others and celebrate generational wisdom.

“We are better together when we are in fellowship with one another. Especially after a year apart, having that time of fellowship, digging into God’s word and just being together is so important to our daily lives,” Billquist said.

Ward said the idea of being better together is especially relevant following the isolation
some members experienced during the pandemic. Ward said that while she managed her
family and focus on Bible studies over Zoom, the group is better in-person in the same

The Women of Saint Ignatius, Catholic Women of the Chapel gathered for the WOSI Advent Retreat Dec. 9 at Pioneer Chapel. During the retreat, WOSI Spiritual Adviser
Michelle Taylor spoke on how to use prayer, asking for help, simplifying and being present
during activities while allowing time to rest.

“Advent means waiting, and yet the world tells us busy, busy busy. I think it’s finding
peace in the middle of a chaotic world. It’s slowing down when everything around you is telling you to speed up.”

Taylor said the Advent program typically calls for a day of reflection, but the organization chose to condense the day into a two-hour morning of reflection and socializing.

Jaime Showers, Kim Robinson and Heather Anne Ward play “King of Kings” to open the Protestant Women of the Chapel Christmas program Dec. 7 in Frontier Chapel. Photo by Charlotte Richter/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

She said she chose to speak because of what the organization provided for her as she raised her family. She said this Advent has brought in the “year of the family.”

Taylor said COVID-19 has affected the attendance rate and norms of WOSI meetings. She said regardless of the number of attendees, WOSI is about sisterhood and having a
space to discuss children, family and personal concerns. She said she loves that the group is diverse in age and faith.

Women are invited to bring their children to WOSI events; children are welcome to wander or color during meetings to fill in the gap in child care that both chapels are experiencing.

“That’s what it is to be a mother, you worship in the midst of your family; your family is a prayer,” Taylor said.

Taylor said speaking at the event gave her energy to know that the women of the group
took a step closer toward waiting instead of being overly busy during the holiday.

“Our hope, and I’ve seen this over and over and over again, is that (WOSI members) learn something they take home to their families,” Taylor said. “It’s a continuation.”

WOSI and PWOC are open to women of any denomination. For more information, message the Women of Saint Ignatius, Catholic Women of the Chapel, Fort Leavenworth,
KS, and PWOC Fort Leavenworth Facebook pages.


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