Archdiocese Local

Bible study offers women the chance to grow in their faith

Janice Beilman, left, and Edith Dichtl enjoy a quip of Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann at the Holy Trinity women’s Bible study on Feb. 22. Women from all over the archdiocese come for the Thursday morning event that started around 22 years ago. The group includes women of all ages. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

by Moira Cullings

LENEXA — On Thursday mornings, Elizabeth Slobodnik and her children make an hour-long journey from their home in Atchison to Holy Trinity Parish here.

“I’m not a morning person,” said Slobodnik, “and none of my kids are either. It’s a little sacrifice to get up at 6:30 so that we can be out the door.

“But we love it. We wouldn’t trade it.”

Their reward is a form of spiritual nourishment they haven’t found anywhere else.

It’s the Holy Trinity women’s Bible study, and it’s one of a kind in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

“I think the formation we all receive is invaluable,” said Jennell Aykroyd of Holy Trinity. “It really adds to our understanding of our Catholic traditions and brings deeper meaning to our faith, the Mass and our purpose as women.

“Including women and children from [around] the archdiocese makes a big world smaller. It makes our Catholic archdiocese closer.”

Unceasing interest

Around 120 women are participating in this year’s Bible study, which meets weekly from September through May.

Bridget Moyer, a level one catechist for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, guides her daughter Molly, 3, during catechesis at Holy Trinity Parish’s Quigley Center in Lenexa. The program is offered to children while their moms participate in a Bible study. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

The study is accompanied by Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for children of moms who participate — many of whom home school.

“We like to say that we’re a women’s Bible study first that just happens to have a really amazing children’s program,” said Jenny Kropf, a parishioner at Holy Trinity.

Kropf was on the ground floor of starting the program some 22 years ago with Laura Haeusser and Kathryn Burditt.

It was initially held in the basement of Church of the Holy Cross in Overland Park until Holy Trinity’s Quigley Center was built a handful of years later.

“Since then, it’s been growing,” said Kropf.

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann speaks to the women’s Bible study group at Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Each year, the study breaks up the women, who come from up to 20 parishes and are at all ages and stages of life, into small groups.

“This year, I have an 80-plus-year-old woman in my group,” said Traci Bazzelle of Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe. “And she is just a riot. I just adore her.

“The young teach the old, and the old teach the young. We all have something to offer.”

While they’re studying Scripture, the youth attend Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a hands-on, Montessori-style program.

The Quigley Center is able to host catechesis for toddlers, levels one (3-6 years old), two (6-9 years old) and three (9-12 years old), and even a teen Bible study group — all at the same time.

While their moms are learning about Scripture in one part of the building, the children attend Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in another. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

The ability to do so is rare due to the atriums — prepared spaces with materials designed to help the children grow in faith — the program requires.

Because of that, Kropf believes it’s “a model program for how to catechize moms and all their children at the same time.”

Lifelong learners

One of the Bible study’s speakers each year is Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann.

“Thank you for giving this time to the Lord and for growing in your own knowledge of our Catholic faith and love for the Scriptures,” he told participants on Feb. 22.

Usually, the women study a book of the Bible, alternating between the Old and New Testaments. This year, they’re studying Exodus, as well as Mary.

Each year, the women’s Bible study at Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa draws in more than 100 women of all ages and stages of life and from various parishes around the archdiocese. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

To make it possible, participants, especially those who bring their children, are asked to volunteer — as catechists, setup helpers or in other capacities.

Aykroyd, who leads a cleanup crew of more than 35 women, said seeing everyone pitch in is a delight.

“It’s beautiful to watch the joy [that comes] from everyone working together and the young people wanting to be a part of it,” she said.

Bazzelle serves as a Mass coordinator, taking around 25 children to the parish’s daily Mass while their moms participate in the early Bible study session.

“These kids are great,” she said. “They are kind, they’re respectful, they know how to be reverent in Mass and they are just a joy to take.”

The children then continue their morning in catechesis.

“It just speaks to the hearts of the kids,” said Bazzelle, “and helps them grow in their faith and how they can actually speak to the Lord and learn to be quiet and listen to his voice.

“You just can’t get that anywhere else.”

For women like Slobodnik, the entire experience is well worth the trip.

“It feels like a luxury that we have all of this space that we can use to grow in our faith all morning on a Thursday,” she said. “I am just so blessed to have found it.”

Registration for the Holy Trinity women’s Bible study begins each June and fills up quickly. For more information, go online to:

Parishes or individuals interested in learning more can reach out to Jenny Kropf by email at:

About the author

Moira Cullings

Moira attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Overland Park and Benedictine College in Atchison. She majored in marketing, minored in psychology and played center midfield for the women’s soccer team. Moira joined The Leaven staff as a feature writer and social media editor in 2015. After a move to Denver, Moira resumed her full-time position at The Leaven and continues to write and manage its website, social media channels. Her favorite assignment was traveling to the Holy Land to take photos for a group pilgrimage in 2019.

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