DENVER – It’s been nearly a decade since a group of five women launched a program for women who are either new to the Denver area or experiencing divorce or loss of a loved one. The program – Moving on After Moving in, or MOAMI – meets weekly at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, but is non-denominational and open to anyone interested.
“This is our ninth year and our 16th session,” said Candy Perry, one of the original founders of the program. “The program started in 2010 when Father Carmen (Malacari) from Holy Spirit Catholic Church asked me to start this non-denominational program. At that time, there wasn’t a program like this on the west side of the lake. I reached out to four other women and we became a teaching team. Currently, there are three of us left from the core group of five women that started.”
Perry now teaches the program alongside Nancy O’Brien and Maryanne Sincham, the two other remaining founders, as well as Lyndall Nicholson and Natalie Patterson, who were brought in after the two other founders moved away. The 10-week program is based on the book “After the Boxes are Unpacked” by Susan Miller, which deals with the spiritual, emotional and practical needs of a transition.
“Basically what the program provides is encouragement for women going through a transition such as a move, retirement, divorce or the loss of their spouse,” Perry said. “Susan Miller started this program at military bases for spouses who often have to move every three or four years. That worked so well that she expanded the program to churches and it’s become something that’s offered at numerous locations across the country.”
The book is centered around spiritual, emotional and practical techniques for coping with transition.
“We go from one extreme to the other in that we have women who are very happy with their new situation and we have others who have had a tragic event happen in their life, so we span the spectrum,” Perry said. “To cope with the situation spiritually, we offer biblical readings that are applicable, prayer and reflection. To cope with the emotional side of things, our women share their adjustment through discussions, support groups and icebreakers through which they share and get to know one another. Then, practically, we introduce the women to North Carolina and the Lake Norman area so that they know what offerings are available to them where they live.”
To date, more than 360 women between the ages of 20 and 95 have participated in MOAMI at Holy Spirit since 2010. The program has been extremely successful, so much so that the founders established the MOAMI Alumni Association for the women who wish to continue their newfound connections and friendships.
“The women learn a lot about each other in class and they tend to form very close personal bonds,” Perry said. “The only big complaint that we got after our first two sessions of the program was that it had ended too soon, and so what we did was start an alumni association. I don’t know if any of the other Moving on After Moving in groups around the country have something similar, but our ladies in our area wanted it. The association is run by what we call a ‘planning board’ that is made up of one teacher and a person from each session we hold.”
The next MOAMI session starts Thursday, Jan. 31. The program runs through April 4, with the group meeting at 10 a.m. Thursdays inside the Holy Spirit Catholic Church Parish Activity Center, 537 N.C. 16 N., Denver.