Location: Fort Myers, FL

Job TitleLearning & Development Manager

Organization: Executive Services, Gartner

Education: Ave Maria University

Degree: Politics

Caitlin Desmé, GIVEN ’22

Please share a little about yourself – feel free to include a fun fact!

My name is Caitlin Desme and I am a born-and-bred Midwesterner transplanted to Southwest Florida. My husband, Grant, and I have been married for almost four years and we have three little ones who keep us moving at a sprint pace: Gemma (3) and twins Charlie and Declan (2). I’ve been “big with wonder” since a very young age, which has manifested itself largely through writing and has only grown through interactions with my own children! Fun fact: I just marked 10 years in the National Guard and worked Riot Control as a young adult for a bit.

Describe your professional work/ministry/family life. How were you led to this? What are you passionate about?

Most of my work has revolved around service. From enlisting in the military at 17 to my current job in Learning & Development, I’ve been able to teach and support others in an intentional way. Few things are more fulfilling to me than guiding someone toward their potential!

What are the personal strengths that you’ve been given and how do you utilize them?

I think two of my strengths are a love of writing and a strong, intuitive sensitivity to the good, true, and beautiful. I’ve been stringing words together since I could hold a pencil, but only recently merged these strengths into writing poetry. My MCode revealed that one of my top motivators is “Experience the Ideal”, and it’s exciting to bring concrete expression to the intangible through poetry.

It’s also easy for me to see the strengths and beauty in other people, and it’s a gift to affirm that. I mostly use that strength in my role as a mother currently, but would love to use it in a service context one day!

What women inspire you, and why? (living or deceased, Catholic or non-Catholic, canonized or not)

Every woman at GIVEN is on that list for me- whether participant, speaker, or mentor! It requires great humility to know yourself and use your gifts to serve others, which is incredibly inspiring. St. Gemma and St. Therese of Lisieux also inspire me in their enigmatic personalities. St. Gemma looks demure, yet she laughed in the face of the devil and is feared in exorcisms. St. Therese is so much more than “The Little Flower”- she suffered greatly and valiantly mastered her temperament. I love them!

Are there friends and mentors that you depend upon? How do they support you?

Yes- my friends and mentors have supported me in a way that’s almost impossible to put into words. I wouldn’t be who I am today without many special individuals and it’s been a gift to be their “student”.

Prayer is essential for everyone, but especially for women who are active in the life and mission of the Church. Do you have any favorite devotions or prayers?

I have a strong devotion to the Precious Blood and the 54 Day Rosary novena. At the GIVEN Forum, Mother Olga shared that she had prayed that the auditorium be washed in the Precious Blood prior to her talk and that imagery immediately drew me in.

My favorite mode of connecting with Christ, however, is Eucharistic Adoration. I’m blessed to have a small chapel a few minutes down the road, so I’m able to visit almost every day. Seeing the Host so regularly, and in such simplicity, transforms every Mass or Eucharistic procession into a breathtaking event. It truly feels as if I’m attending the wedding and celebration of a dear friend!

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

“Cook the truth in charity until it tastes sweet” – St. Francis de Sales

Our polarized and digitalized world has made it easy to communicate without consideration or even vision of the audience, which in turn has produced a common temptation to divorce truth from charity. To speak the truth charitably is almost a rare heroism these days. I truly believe women, in particular, can lead the movement against the siren song of “harsh truths” and embody a St. Paul-esque ardor for those on the receiving end of our words. After all: “No one understands so well as a woman, how to say things that are, at once, both sweet and deep. Sweetness and depth, they are the whole of woman; in them lies the whole of heaven.” -Victor Hugo

What were your key takeaways from the GIVEN Forum?

GIVEN fundamentally transformed my understanding of God and of myself. The joke told by Sr. Josephine Garrett at the Forum: “Receive the gift you are? That’s six months of therapy!” struck me because it gets to the crux of what the Forum is. These few days are a real catalyst to self-knowledge and authentic humility- a testament to God’s anointing of the event.

On the first day of the Forum, I was sitting in a grove of trees and mused that “the significance of the different shades of green leaves is not lost on me.” There was something here that did not have to be, but was- simply for the sake of beauty. On the final day, after a recommendation made during spiritual direction, I was praying for the grace to know that God loves me and, suddenly, everything clicked: God has placed designs and desires on my heart that dispose me to receive beauty in a deep and unique way. Beauty is not lost on me, and that is a gift. And more importantly, I understood that we do not need to be here on this earth, but we are- in our intentional design- and that is very good.

What was your GIVEN action plan? Describe its vision, mission, and audience.

My original Action Plan was to put together a Theology on Tap series, in order to cultivate a young adult community in my area. However, it became immediately clear that God desired me to remain in the “Receive the gift you are” phase this past year. So, I narrowed the scope of my plan and created a small book study with a few other women.

How did you grow throughout this year as you worked with a mentor on your action plan? Were there any moments where you had doubts or felt like you had taken on too much of a challenge? If so, how did you overcome them?

I was extremely lucky to have a mentor who was also a spiritual director, so she guided me through my pivot to focusing more on individual growth. Often, frustrating obstacles must be overcome to implement an Action Plan. Obstacles can also be a sign of inappropriate timing, however, and my mentor gracefully encouraged me to focus less on the Action Plan and more on growing in patience.

What were some of the fruits you saw from your action plan? What did you find most fulfilling in this process?

My book study, albeit small, has directly inspired reflections that I’ve had published, opened doors to share more about my experiences in motherhood, and has led to beautiful friendships! This little community has provided a space to unveil our hearts and share wisdom- which has taught me, fundamentally, what it means to be a woman.