Anya Semenoff-Petty

In Her Shoes: Finding True Friendship & Hosting an Endow Group

From the Editor: Thinking about starting your own Endow group? Click here for our special Fall promotion! Starting August 1 and ending August 30, 2019.

What brought you to Endow?

Two years ago, my parish, Our Lady of Lourdes, hosted a women’s night to introduce women to small group ministry options. Mallory Smyth gave a great talk that evening, inviting women into better understanding of our inherent feminine dignity through the studies offered by Endow and in community with other women. I was so moved by the ideas she introduced during that talk, that I knew I had to become involved.

How did you first hear about Endow? 

I had vaguely heard about the Endow ministry in passing conversations for many years before I learned more about its mission and everything offered in its model. It wasn’t until Our Lady of Lourdes hosted the women’s night that I really began to understand what Endow entailed.

Why did you decide to host a group?

The Holy Spirit! At the women’s night event, volunteers passed around cards on which you submitted your contact information, as well as checked a box to indicate your interest in joining and/or hosting a group. I knew with certainty that I wanted to join a study, but felt unsure, and to be honest, rather unqualified, to host a group. At the last possible second before the cards were collected, I felt a surge of conviction to put my hesitation aside and check the “interested in hosting” box. With the perspective of the last two years and all the blessings that have resulted from that instance of faith, I feel certain the Holy Spirit prompted me to surrender in trust.

Who has been a spiritual mother to you?

Though I was born and raised Catholic, I stepped away from actively practicing my faith for many years through college and directly following graduation. I never expected to return to the Church. However, through the invitation of my now-husband to join a group of young adults in Denver, I met a woman named Sarah who, through her warm welcome and unreserved joy, showed me an example of living a Catholic life that I wanted to better understand and ultimately explore.

What is one thing that you have learned from your Endow groups?

I have learned that there is a certain commonality to our journeys as women of faith, and that when we have the opportunity to share our individual circumstances honestly and without fear of judgment from others, myriad graces will be unleashed in our lives. Once you’ve experienced those graces, you can’t help but want to share them.

What has changed in your faith since experiencing Endow?

Almost immediately after starting a group and opening my home to host an Endow group, I felt called to more deliberately serve in ministry. Though my background was in journalism and small business ownership, I had a very strong sense that I needed to step away from those decade-long career pursuits and instead surrender all my plans to God. It was not easy or immediate, but after many (many, many!) months of praying for the grace to surrender, a position in ministry opened at my parish, and I am very fortunate to get the opportunity to serve on the staff there. I am certain I wouldn’t have even known to look for such a possibility if not for my experience hosting an Endow group.

What makes your Endow group unique?

To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one!’” We have been so blessed to find true kindred spirits in the dear women who have joined our Endow group these past two years. Very early in our group, I felt embraced in my struggles and celebrated in my triumphs in a way that has never happened so immediately before in my life. When my sister, Emily, who co-hosts our study, and I started this group, we hoped to build a community such as we have indeed been blessed to find, but didn’t expect it would come together so seamlessly or quickly.

What tips do you have for someone who is new to Endow and/or new to hosting an Endow group?

Say yes! There are so many women out there who are searching and longing for genuine friendships with their sisters in faith; for deeper, honest connections and not just the veneer offered by social media. Don’t be afraid, and be bold in answering God’s mission for your life. You do not need to be an expert, to hold a degree in theology, or to have years of experience in ministry to get involved. I have the utmost faith that if you are willing to put yourself out there, the Holy Spirit will not fail to guide you.

From the Editor: Thinking about starting your own Endow group? Click here for our special Fall promotion! Starting August 1 and ending August 30, 2019.