During Women’s History Month, we are all more keenly aware of the impact of women leaders upon society. Especially on March 8th, media outlets and all of our favorite Instagram accounts were proudly promoting women’s accomplishments and sharing stories of heroines. But does Women’s History Month include Catholic female leaders? Sometimes, yes! Last week, CNN released the headline that Colorado will replace Columbus Day with Cabrini Day, the first paid holiday recognizing a woman in the US. I was thrilled to see this Catholic religious sister, known as the patron saint of immigrants, being recognized by secular outlets!
Throughout the process of praying about where the Lord was guiding me and how he wanted me to serve Him, He simply spoke to me of my belovedness. He wanted me to experience what it means to be genuinely loved.
Pentecostal experience. These are the two words I use to describe my GIVEN experience. For over a year, I had longed and prayed for something like GIVEN to help discern my lost vocation. Before GIVEN, I was studying international relations and was presented with the opportunity to work for the Long Beach Mayor’s Office. My passion and drive to bring about peace surfaced all the more as I assisted with the city’s international trade. Three months into my internship, I was invited to the United Nations Leadership Summit in Washington D.C. My dream at that time was to work for the United Nations, so this opportunity was a dream come true.
The day is over now, with all its cares and worries. I stand in front of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and slowly lay my head against her chest. I imagine her arms encircling me. Wrapped within her mantle, I can almost hear the slow beating of her heart. Here, I know that I am loved. Without a need for words, I allow her to hold me at the end of this day, her love my place of refuge. “Am I not here, I who am your Mother?” she gently asks, “Could there be anything else you need?”
Iattended the GIVEN Forum in 2016 and it absolutely changed my life in so many amazing ways. It taught me many valuable skills and helped me to grow in my faith as beloved daughter of God.
When I heard Sr. Norma Pimentel, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, speak at the 2016 GIVEN Forum, I felt compelled to help her mission close to the US-Mexico border but I had no idea how or why. I prayed and waited for God to make a way.
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.” These are words that I have often prayed on and pondered in light of Mary’s “yes” at the Annunciation. But now, these words have a whole different meaning. They have an immensely personal impact on me. They resonate with the story of my own life and God’s call to me, especially through the 2016 GIVEN Forum.
I felt the pit in my stomach grow. Another weekend, no plans except studying, alone. Life as a graduate student was surprisingly isolating! How would I get through the next two years?
“I’m going to do it.” That’s what I told my mom on the phone when I finally decided to leave my secular marketing career to work for the Church. Months of discernment had built up to this moment. The thought was both intriguing and intimidating, an adventure and a risk.