A prayer team prays with a retreatant at a Momentum Single Mothers Retreat at Dominus Vobiscum Retreat Centre. Photo courtesy of Talitha Cere

Young mothers’ group gains ‘Momentum’

  • May 24, 2024

A unique ministry known as Momentum has been fostering a faith community of Catholic single women by providing them with opportunities to grow in their relationships with both God and each other. 

An organization that offers single mothers in-person and online retreats, local chapter gatherings at various churches and weekly online meetings, Momentum’s mission began as a result of one woman’s personal experience living as a single mother. 

“While I am married now, I was a single mom for 14 years and during that time I found it very difficult. I struggled a lot and felt a lot of isolation and so I felt a call in my heart to do something for other single moms,” said Talitha Cere, co-founder and executive director of Momentum. 

Cere ended up approaching Dominus Vobiscum, a retreat centre in Montreal where a retreat for single moms was held back in 2016. It was at that first retreat nearly a decade ago that the organization began to take shape, with ministry programs now being offered in Montreal, Ottawa, Halifax, British Columbia and even Texas. Momentum also offers visits to select parishes and hosts a podcast known as Catholic Single Mothers in addition to its retreats. 

“It was after the first retreat in 2016 when it started to hit me. The first session was almost all silence and tears, we were all struck by the vulnerability but also the gratitude the women were feeling for this new-found community,” Cere said. “We still do the retreat (at Dominus Vobiscum) yearly, we also are doing our first retreat in Vancouver in collaboration with their diocese this (month) and I imagine that over time more chapters will start doing their own retreats as well.”

As with most initiatives, the COVID-19 pandemic posed a significant challenge to operations. As Momentum was beginning to take off, the project was forced to switch its retreats to a fully online format at the height of the pandemic. The change turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the larger scope of women in need became much more apparent when young mothers began joining the sessions from all over the country.

“During COVID we did a strategic plan and we started to think, ‘If we were to take this more seriously, what should we be doing and what would that look like?’ We became a registered charity which started the process of becoming more of an official organization,” Cere said. 

While the online retreats have continued, complete with designated guest speakers, evenings of adoration, one-on-one meetings with spiritual directors and testimonies from single mothers, the in-person retreats are also touted as transformative experiences. Open to single mothers only, the programming of each retreat is reflective of the experiences of Catholic women both today and in Biblical times. 

“We like to base our retreats heavily on different Scriptures — for example, in the past, we have done retreats on the Samaritan woman at the well, on Mary Magdalene, and this year the theme of our retreats is finding joy in suffering which are based on the Joyful Mysteries,” Cere said. “We are very close to Scripture but we also tailor it to some of the unique wounds and challenges that we know single mothers face every day.” 

What may seem like a fairly limiting stipulation, Momentum often sees a diverse range of different Catholic single women attend its events. From single moms with young children up to older women with adult children no longer around, the team sees it as yet another blessing that allows mentorship and support to be shared by attendees at different stages of their journey whether they are separated, divorced, annulled or widowed. 

The story of one mother who attended a Momentum retreat remains first in the executive director's mind when thinking about common takeaways that attendees often have. 

“What sticks out is the healing in terms of wounds with the Church. One of the women at our last retreat, her husband had left her seven years ago and she did not think that she was able to receive communion ever again,” she said. “After speaking with the priest at the retreat, she received communion that Sunday and it was a beautiful testament to the healing and her relationship with God.” 

The next two in-person retreats will be held May 24-26 in Chilliwack, B.C., and June 21-23 in Mandeville, Que. For more, see momentummothers.org/

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