Beginning Experience Winnipeg was founded in 1974 by Sister Josephine Stewart, SSMN and Catholic school teacher Ann Lamia. Sister Josephine was a family counselor at the Catholic Renewal Center in Fort Worth, Texas and Ann Lamia had been grieving a recent failed marriage and divorce. While their original intention was to create a program for engaged couples, Lamia’s notebook became the seed for the Beginning Experience ministry. Sister Josephine and other professionals in grief resolution, counseling, psychology, education and spiritual renewal drew inspiration from Lamia’s notes to develop the Beginning Experience program. The first Beginning Experience weekend was held in October 1974. Sister Josephine retired from the ministry in 1981 and Ann Lamia continued to work in the ministry until her death in 1987.
In 1981, eight people from St. Bernadette’s Parish in Winnipeg attended a Beginning Experience Weekend in Crookston, Minnesota. These eight later formed the original Beginning Experience team in Winnipeg. Their desire to help other widowed, divorced and separated people led to the founding of this important peer ministry in Canada with the first Canadian Beginning Experience Weekend held in April 1982.