Throughout her more than twenty-five years as a Regnum Christi member, Eileen Wieck has served in a variety of positions, from Section Assistant to Local Director to Spiritual Director, and it is through these roles – and the friendships she made along the way – that her new apostolic initiative, All Things Women, was borne.
Originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Eileen Wieck has been a member of Regnum Christi since she was a teen. As a young woman, Eileen served as the Women’s Section Assistant, travelling across the Western provinces of Canada, and developing strong and lasting relationships with other RC members and the local Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, through whom she was introduced to her future husband, Vincent. But when she and Vincent married and moved to San Jose, California in 2003, Eileen missed that community of sisterhood and mutual mentorship she had come to expect from Regnum Christi team life.
“The sense of accompaniment and the experience of authentic female friendship is something we in Regnum Christi have grown so accustomed to, but when I came from Canada to [San Jose], it was a struggle at first to find that family spirit. Soon I met a few other women and began building community around myself with girlfriends.”
Over time, the Regnum Christi women of San Jose built a vibrant and close-knit team, sharing in each other’s joys and sorrows. It was this personal experience of female friendship that inspired Eileen to create a brand-new apostolate that would extend that same type of sisterly support to women seeking accompaniment. “The idea for the apostolate really came from my own friendship experience in Regnum Christi team life, and seeing how many women could benefit from the friendship, but also from a deeper knowledge of who they are rooted in Christ,” says Eileen. “When that begins to happen, then an authentic friendship with other women can occur.”
Although the idea for All Things Women was built upon Eileen’s own real-life experience of female friendships, the apostolate also draws inspiration from examples of sisterly friendship embodied in Scripture, particularly Mary, mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene. “Looking around at this small cross-section of people in my life who had encountered serious troubles – some losing children, some going through postpartum depression, some struggling with anxiety, some struggling with marital issues, so many different things that we all carry – the idea started to dawn on me of what it must have been like to be in the tribe with Mary and Mary Magdalene, following Jesus around, and how that would have elevated everything about female relationships,” shares Eileen. For this reason, Mary Magdalene was chosen as the apostolate’s patron saint.
With the support of Fr. Brian Shininger, LC (who is the apostolate’s chaplain), her supportive team of lay women, and great mentorship from Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, Lisa Small and Naoise Johnston, Eileen launched All Things Women in 2020. Its goal is to help women grow in self discovery and to find their unique identity rooted in Christ. Female accompaniment and sisterly mentorship and spiritual direction are available to help make that happen. “When women believe in one another and don’t fall prey to competition they can elevate each other in phenomenal ways” says Eileen.
Above all, All Things Women is a platform for women to discover their unique identity and share their talents at the service of the Church, through things like writing, broadcasting, public speaking, and peer mentorship. Through creating community and small groups, hosting events like retreats and workshops, and providing coaching and spiritual direction, All Things Women hopes to create opportunities for women to not only be replenished and nourished, but also be supported and equipped to replenish and nourish others through their own unique talents.
However, the backbone of All Things Women, according to Eileen, is spiritual formation. An integral aspect of the apostolate is the Forty Weeks – Sacred Story Program by Father William Watson, SJ; Eileen and Father Brian personally lead two groups through the program each year, as well as mentoring several other group leaders who go on to lead their own teams. From this, Eileen is building a core team of women dedicated to uplifting other women through mentorship and authentic friendship. A total of 11 women’s groups have formed over the past year and a half.
One of the first events that All Things Women hosted was a weekend conference and retreat, held in mid-October of 2020. Although the event was initially intended to be an in-person weekend, complete with wine-tastings and, as Eileen puts it, “all the things we gals here in California love to do to have fun,” COVID-19 restrictions forced them to pivot to an online format. This, however, turned out to not be an obstacle at all, but a blessing: the weekend was a huge success, attracting over fifty participants from across the country who gathered virtually to hear talks on mental and physical health, attend livestream Mass and adoration, share their stories and experiences with each other, and even participate in guided exercise sessions together. Specialty guest speakers were available as well as dynamic local women. Cara Clark from Cara Clark Nutrition was last year’s VIP speaker.
Eileen has big plans for the All Things Women platform. This spring, All Things Women will be hosting an online event for the women who are currently following the Forty Weeks Program, and they are beginning planning for an open annual conference in the fall. Eileen’s longer term goal is to organize a pilgrimage to the city of Magdala in the Holy Land, the homeland of the apostolate’s patron saint. “I’m a big, big, big believer in pilgrimages for everybody,” says Eileen, “so that’s one dream, to take people to Magdala, [which is] a place of real healing for women, and have some of those experiences of healing there. I think those are experiences that God can really use to speak to our hearts.”
Besides being the founder and director of All Things Women, Eileen is currently the Section Director for the San Jose Regnum Christi section, a Team Leader, a Spiritual Director, and has just begun her studies at Divine Mercy University to receive her Spiritual Direction certification, to concretize those skills of accompaniment and guidance that she’s been practicing for the past twenty-five years. Her most important treasure is in her marriage of 18 years and in being mom to 6 beautiful kids. To find out more about the All Things Women platform, follow them on Instagram at @allthingswomen_ or email [email protected].