By Rachel Noel/Freelance Writer, OND
Fargo, N.D. -- Mothers And Children, more commonly referred to as “MACH” is a group of women who gather weekly to discuss their spiritual, emotional, and physical wellness. Mothers shape the future through one of the most difficult, yet significant jobs in the world, and on April 28, 25 mothers congregated at the Loretta building in downtown Fargo to celebrate 20 years of MACH.
The jubilant reunion featured MACH members past and present. It was evident through the moving stories exchanged by the women what a difference this group has made in the lives of many, and the impact it has had on generations. Currently, the Diocese of Crookston has active MACH groups at St. Joseph, Moorhead, and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Crookston; but it all started at St. Joseph’s.
In the fall of 1997, co-founders Carol Tepley and the late Roberta Johnson envisioned an openhearted, faith-based space of solace where mothers could come once a week to openly discuss whatever was on their minds and in their hearts. Studies have shown that stay-at-home moms are more likely to suffer from postpartum depression than working moms, due to lack of adult comradery which can cause an endless feeling of anxious isolation. A majority of the current MACH women are stay at home moms, and several of those moms raved about the faith friendships they established by attending MACH every week. Childcare is provided on-site, which allows the mothers to enjoy two hours solely focused on kid-free fellowship.
Several current MACH members shared poignant, heartfelt examples of what MACH has meant to them and how the supportive group has carried them through trying times such as infertility, infant loss, and sacrificing successful careers to stay at home with their children. In witnessing these powerful testimonials, it is clear that Tepley and Johnson’s legacy is active and flourishing in the hearts of many. Tepley shared the story of how MACH came to be.
“I remember Roberta and I sitting in her dining room just planning things out and looking at the materials that we had borrowed from the Hope Lutheran moms’ group. We started discussing why the Catholic Church didn’t have a group for moms. We wanted a place to talk about motherhood, faith, family, and we asked ourselves where is the support for us? We decided that enough time had gone by. Two thousand years was long enough,” she joked.
Tepley also discussed the vision that she and Johnson shared from the start, and how they made sure MACH grew in a forceful stride to establish that their imperative mission would not be overlooked.
“Making friends, being able to talk openly about your faith, being excited about when you are going to have another baby, all of those things are so important. Part of the MACH ministry we decided to do early on was to attend different Masses, and if there was anyone in the pews around us that had a screaming baby, a fussy toddler, or if they got up and left the church more than twice, we would talk to those moms and tell them how much we appreciated that they brought their kids to church,” she said.
Although the Bible study material covered at MACH is Catholic faith-based, all religions are welcome. Tepley explained that it was established early on that all mothers would be welcome at MACH.
“Some of the moms had kids that went to school at St. Joe’s and some of them didn’t, but we welcomed everyone, regardless of belief. Our message was: be who you are and learn from us as moms. The love and laughter that flows through you will go straight to your kids, and directly into your homes.”