For the past 32 years, a loosely knit but closely tied group of Orange County women have met four times a year for breakfast, inspiration and a shared devotion to the Holy Spirit.
Together they are the Our Lady of Peace Chapter of the Magnificat Ministry for Women, part of the international Magnificat Ministry.
The ministry, not affiliated with Magnificat publishing, began in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1982 and has grown to more than 100 chapters worldwide.
OUR LADY OF PEACE CHAPTER OF THE MAGNIFICAT MINISTRY FOR WOMEN HELD A PRAYER BREAKFAST ON MARCH 4 INSIDE THE CULTURAL CENTER ON CHRIST CATHEDRAL CAMPUS. PHOTO BY STEPHEN GEORGES/DIOCESE OF ORANGE
It began in Orange County during an event in 1991. Anita Williams and three of her friends heard about Magnificat from a priest and decided to start a chapter in Orange County. It grew by word of mouth from a pot-luck breakfast at Holy Family in Orange to the Embassy Suites in Garden Grove. This year they have moved the venue to Christ Cathedral.
IN 2023, THE MAGNIFICAT MINISTRY MOVED ITS QUARTERLY BREAKFASTS TO CHRIST CATHEDRAL CAMPUS IN GARDEN GROVE.
A small 5-member planning committee organized the event and Magnificat still runs that way. There is no membership or dues, just a small working group of volunteers who pull it all together four times a year.
Fast forward to 2023. Magnificat Ministry moved its quarterly breakfasts to Christ Cathedral, a move the group’s treasurer, Michele Harnish, said pleased many of the women who can now attend Mass at 8 a.m. before the breakfast begins at 9:30.
Harnish noted that the guest speakers relate stories or experiences that help the audience see their faith more concretely. Often these are stories of how the speaker discerned the call to religious life or evidence of the miraculous in daily life.
“We have had some well-known speakers such as Fr. Donald Calloway, a popular Catholic priest and author of “Consecration to St. Joseph” and the late Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, a warrior for peace and justice.
There are also clergy and religious who are more local. Still, the presentation is aimed at helping the audience understand how God works in their daily life to bring them into closer communion with the Holy Spirit.
As more than 230 women gathered for the first post-COVID breakfast on March 4 and the first held at Christ Cathedral, the spirituality-centered format picked up without skipping a beat despite the three year hiatus.
Orange County Coordinator Dr. Elizabeth Kim began by reminding the guests of the Wedding feast at Cana story and Mary’s message to “Do whatever he tells you.” Next came the Crowning of Mary, a regular part of each, breakfast followed by one decade of the Rosary. The keynote speaker was Fr. Angelos Sebastian, a native of India now Vicar General and Moderator of The Curia for the Diocese of Orange as well as Pastor of St. Killian’s parish in Mission Viejo.
At the conclusion, those gathered joined in song, followed by guided meditations. The event coordinators and the group’s spiritual advisor, Fr. Bao Thai, who is rector at Christ Cathedral, offered the personal promptings they received from the Holy Spirit during the meditation. This simple exercise helps attendees learn to recognize the Holy Spirit as a dynamic voice within their own lives.
Long a relatively quiet, word-organization, Magnificat Ministry is about to step up to magnify the Lord more significantly during these troubled times.
Speaking at the event, Donna Ross, Central Service Team Coordinator for the region said, “The goal is to evangelize souls.”
Since its founding, the ministry has grown largely by word of mouth. But Ross said that now, “we have felt the Lord encouraging us to become more well known. Through prayer, we discerned that the Lord was asking us to kick it up a bit. Following the promptings of the Holy Spirit, our leadership team decided to exhibit at the Catholic Marketing Association’s recent convention.”
She added, “The results were far beyond what we expected. We met many representatives of Catholic media who invited Magnificat Ministry to be guests on radio and television, including three programs on CMAX. TV, a new Catholic subscription-based streaming network. They also made an important connection with Ingram publishing which will handle Magnificat’s three booklets that include first-hand accounts of testimonies given at the luncheons.”
For more information on Magnificat Ministry’s Orange County chapter, visit their website at https://magnificat-ministry.net and click on Chapters on the menu bar. Once on the Orange County page, simply click on Join our Mailing list to receive updates and invitations to future breakfast meetings.