Women’s Guild in Fall River parish is a mother-daughter affair

By Becky Aubut, Anchor Staff

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FALL RIVER, Mass. — Many parishes in the Fall River Diocese host a Women’s Guild, but at Holy Trinity Parish in Fall River, the guild has a unique distinction — among the roughly 50 members, there are four sets of mother-daughter members.

Jennifer Lussier has been a member of the guild for the past two years, and her mother, Judy Lussier, has been a member for the past seven — but Lussier said that it wasn’t just her mother who inspired her to join, but her grandmother. 

“It’s really nice because it’s one part tradition — when you grow up Catholic, this is what you see,” said Lussier. “I saw my grandmother go to church; volunteer at church; was very religious. You have that sense of community. Seeing her do this, then my mom and now me, it’s kind of a natural progression.”

Diane Aguiar joined her mother Pauline Vezina more than 30 years ago at the Women’s Guild. 

“My mother had been in the guild for quite a while, and they were doing the ceramics for the bazaar; we had a table, and they were looking for people to paint the ceramics and finish them up,” recalled Aguiar. “I decided to go and help out, and ended up staying as a member after that.”

Aguiar said she took a break from the guild while raising her family, but came back “to do something with my mother, to spend time with her. I had a good time when I first joined, and then I had three kids and took a lot of time working, so I just wasn’t able to participate as much as I wanted to for a while. I rejoined after my kids grew up.”

Even though Aguiar works full-time, said Vezina, she knows she can count on her daughter to do whatever task is needed for the guild; “Even though she works, she contributes; she’ll do something at work to help us out,” said Vezina. “I love it. My daughter will do whatever I ask. My daughter used to work in a bank as a teller, so she’s helped counting money. Another time it was speaking over the microphone to call numbers or just speak; I don’t even worry if she’s going to say no, because she’s right there.”

Due to the guild’s members having a hard time driving because of their age — “We are an older generation,” said Vezina — the two women use their vehicles to help people get to the meetings: “When my van is full, she’ll take her car and pick up the rest of them,” said Vezina. “She’s my right arm because I know she’ll do it. I appreciate it when my daughter comes.”

Aguiar said that being part of a ministry allows the women to grow closer. “[Mothers and daughters] have that connection, working together; always side-by-side,” she said. “The women [of the guild] are so wonderful. They’re a lot older and you hear their stories from when they were younger; it just makes you laugh and see how things have changed, but you’re still together in the Church. We have a good time.”

The guild is not what people think, said Lussier; “They don’t just sit there and pray the Rosary. We do a lot of fun things.”

For Louise A. Slean, her mother, Louise L. Slean, has always been active in the guild, and for the last three years Slean has been taking part in the many guild activities.

“It’s great. I really enjoy it. Everyone is very helpful and all the ladies are very giving with their time. Every year we do two penny sales, and we raise lots of money. Our last penny sale in May we raised $3,000,” said Slean, adding her mother says all the time “she’s so lucky that she has me. We’re always together, do everything together, live together.”

Seeing the women participate, especially mothers inspiring their daughters to take an active role in the Catholic Church is “to see our faith and what we’re working towards going from generation to generation,” said Slean. “It’s just a great thing.”

Lucille Green became involved with the guild two years ago after she began to drive her mother, Yvette Dufault, to the meetings.

“I would take her and stay at the meeting,” said Green. “Every time I went, they would say I should join. They have bazaars twice a year, and I volunteered to help my mother and by doing that, they said [again] that I should join, so I joined.” 

Though she was raised Catholic, Green has been an Evangelical Christian and a member of a congregation in Rehoboth for more than 30 years; yet coming to the guild meetings keeps her connected to a great group of women, and gives her the opportunity to give back to the Church community.

“It’s nice to get out, do different things, talking to the ladies,” said Green. “I have been in the ministry of service for a long time. I worked with handicap children, worked as a nurse’s aid in a nursing home; I worked with the elderly for more than 28 years. I’m used to being there to help out. Right now, with my mother being her age [90] and being sickly, I’ve had to do more to help her out. My husband is in a nursing home, so it’s been difficult this past seven months, but [the guild] is like an outlet. I enjoy being with my mother, who lives next door to me. I get to see and talk to her every day.”

The guild is something the mothers and daughters can have in common, along with the camaraderie of the people; “It’s a nice little group,” said Green. “Most of the ladies have been involved in the guild for years; it’s like a close-knit family and everyone cares for one another.”

The close-knit community of the guild was a common theme for all those interviewed, but none felt that closeness more than Lussier’s mother. “When my grandmother passed, my mother had an awful time with it,” said Lussier. “At the end of the day — though my grandmother was 90 years old — you’re never ready to lose a parent. She could have been 110 and it still would have been devastating. My mom was very sad but she got support; thank God she had those ladies. It was a very good support structure for her.”

Though the guild is made up of “an older generation,” said Lussier, “to join a Women’s Guild, you don’t have to be 70. Young people do have faith, and when you grow up in an active Catholic family, this is part of it. You don’t just go to church on Sunday, that’s not really how you live your faith. I’m so lucky to have a grandmother and a mother who are so religious. I wish I could have a quarter of my mom’s faith. When I see that, it makes me want to be a part of it.”

© 2017 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing  †  Fall River, Massachusetts