Sophia's Circle UPDATE

A ministry with a unique and transformative mission ~
to offer retreats, counseling, support and sisterhood
to women in recovery from a lifestyle of prostitution and drugs.

SOPHIA'S CIRCLE, a ministry led by Edwina Gateley for 30+ years, along with Peggy Patenaude for the last 12 years, has supported marginalized women of all races, creeds and economic backgrounds who carry wounds from violence, drugs and prostitution. Many have been homeless, battered and imprisoned. Most were sexually abused as young girls. Through the generosity of donors, Sophia’s Circle has enabled women to find healing, hope and strength.
PASSING THE TORCH In November of 2021 Edwina and Peggy facilitated their last retreat for Sophia's Circle. Due to Edwina's retirement and move to the UK, and Peggy's health issues, they recognized that it was time to pass the torch, and they did so, with great confidence in the women of Sophia's Circle themselves to continue their healing work. The Leadership Team has certainly proven their ability to keep Sophia's Circle going and growing. There is much wisdom in the saying, Wounded healers make the best healers.
A BIT OF HISTORY The seeds of Sophia’s Circle were sown on the streets of Chicago in the early 80’s when Edwina Gateley began a ministry to women in prostitution. There she discovered women, scorned and criminalized by society. Edwina’s experience on the streets and in the bars and brothels led her to found Genesis House in 1983, a safe place where these women could come for healing and new life. Genesis House became a model program for women recovering from prostitution in the Midwest until 2006.
In the mid 90’s, having attended a week-long retreat given by Edwina, a group of caring women led by Carolyn Vogt Groves founded Sophia’s Circle. Because of Sophia’s Circle, the mission to help women recover continues. Through the retreats offered by Sophia’s Circle, as well as a network of support and sisterhood, women are re-claiming their dignity and discovering new possibilities in their lives.
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT EDWINAAs a young woman, Edwina left her home in Lancaster, England and worked in Uganda, East Africa as a teacher and lay missionary from 1964 -1968. It was during this period that Edwina established a school for Ugandan girls which became the largest and most successful in the area. On her return to England, she then founded the all-lay Volunteer Missionary Movement in 1969 which to date has sent 1,700 women and men to 26 countries on five continents. She later emigrated to the U.S. From 1981 to 1982, Edwina lived for nine months in prayer and solitude in a hermitage in Illinois where she quietly discerned what God was calling her to do next. Her ministry to women in prostitution became the fruit of her "deep listening."
Edwina's work and ministry have been publicly commended by numerous groups and individuals, including the Governor of the State of Illinois, the Mayor of Chicago, the late Cardinal Joseph Bernadin, and the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton. Edwina’s educational experiences have awarded her a Teacher's Degree from England, a Masters in Theology from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and certification as an HIV counselor in the State of Illinois. Edwina continues to lead conferences and retreats internationally. She is the author of 14 books. To learn more about Edwina Gateley and her ministry visit

What the women of Sophia’s Circle have said . . .

The retreat gave me back my real and authentic life. The experience this year was of a warm and peaceful completion to some past incomplete pain I was holding on to. Thank you Sophia's Circle for your enlightenment and spirituality! Lakeysha
It was an honor and a privilege to be a part of such a wonderful group of women. I was ashamed of my past and this is the only place I felt comfortable talking and learning to forgive myself. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of something so magical. Cynthia
There is no place in the world that I can escape to and totally be myself around women who have fought the same struggles that I have and have survived the cruel, cruel world of prostitution. Thank you so much for caring and providing this great opportunity for us all. Toi
I always felt like I'm not enough. The retreat replenished my resolve and I truly believe God's grace is sufficient. I'm more than enough and God wants me to dance!!! Pam
The Sophia’s Circle retreat kept me from relapsing last year. Being with other sisters like myself who were making it keeps me going. Estelle

How you can help Sophia’s Circle

• Please remember these wounded, but beautiful women in your prayers.
• Learn more about the injustice and violence to women on the streets. Up to 94% of women involved in prostitution were first abused as children. This has devastating consequences often leading to a lifestyle of self-abuse, drugs and prostitution.
• Become an advocate for women abused by the sex industry through your conversations, letters to people in power or any other form of support.
If you would like to donate to Sophia's Circle please send your donation to:

Sophia's Circle C/O Peggy Patenaude
47 Overlook Circle
East Falmouth, MA 02536

*Please note that donations to Sophia’s Circle are not tax deductible.

Thank you so much for your support!

Come. Hide in me, said God!
I have this huge, huge shawl,
and, when you are still enough
to let me hold you,
I will wrap you round in warmth
and you will be cocooned in love
and disappear in me.
Edwina Gateley

Sophia’s Circle is God’s shawl for women in need of healing and love.