Women ‘connect’ at Christmas cookie decorating workshop at Metamora parish

Heather Ladwig decorates a sugar cookie during a workshop hosted by Women Connect, a ministry of the Altar and Rosary Society of St. Mary Parish, Metamora. She came with her mother and grandmother as a way for the three of them to do something together. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

METAMORA — Who doesn’t like to make and eat Christmas cookies?

Exactly.

That’s what made for a winning event hosted by Women Connect, a ministry of the Altar and Rosary Society of St. Mary Church here. Held over two nights just before Thanksgiving, the holiday sugar cookie decorating workshop drew about 50 women, which exceeded capacity, according to coordinator April Adams.

Leading the demonstration and coaching the fledgling decorators was Megan Janssen of Meg’s Sweets & Treats.

“Can you believe I used to be an art teacher?” Mary Grace Heinz asked as she decorated a cookie during a workshop hosted by Women Connect, a ministry of the Altar and Rosary Society of St. Mary Church, Metamora. Intergenerational sharing is one of the goals of the group. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

“This was an activity all three of us could do together,” said Ellen Weekley of neighboring St. Mary of Lourdes Parish in Germantown Hills. Huddled over cookies with bags of royal icing and laughing with her were her daughter Heather Ladwig and mother Mary Grace Heinz.

Diane Grebner of St. Mary in Metamora said learning how to decorate sugar cookies was one of the items on her bucket list.

“I wanted to spend quality time with my granddaughter,” said Mary Jane Noe, who attended with Margaret Noe.

Decorating cookies has not been a holiday tradition “and it’s probably not going to be,” Mary Jane said with a laugh.

“The usual tradition is cleaning the dishes together afterward,” Margaret told The Catholic Post.

The spirited exchanges at tables spread out around the cafeteria of St. Mary School in Metamora were music to Adams’ ears.

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS

“Women Connect is about meeting women where they’re at,” said Adams, who also serves as evangelization chair for the Peoria Diocesan Council of Catholic Women. “The goal is to give women an opportunity to get to know one another, to love each other, and to serve each other, as well as the church they belong to and the bigger church, the diocese.”

A “future-focused ministry,” Women Connect is designed to be a fresh approach to women’s organizations, allowing the groups to build on their existing foundation or to use as a model for a new women’s organization.

Adams emphasized that it is not meant to be another obligation, but an opportunity to build relationships that encourage and inspire women in their Catholic identity “to be a unified voice of spirituality, leadership and service.”

At St. Mary in Metamora, she does that in two ways.

“Every month I do a Holy Hour. So we do something spiritual and we have someone share their story,” she said. “It’s a way to connect.”

And then four times a year she tries to come up with events that bring women together so they can just have fun. In addition to the cookie decorating workshop, there have been paint nights and a murder mystery evening.

“I provide questions they can talk about — it kind of breaks the ice,” Adams explained.

Questions for the cookie decorating workshop included “What is your favorite holiday memory?” “What is the best gift you have ever received (or given)?” and “What are your holiday plans this year?”

She encourages members of the Altar and Rosary Society to invite their friends, neighbors and coworkers to any and all events.

“That’s how we evangelize,” she said. “I’m always thinking about ways to bring other people in.”

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