Location: Boston, MA

Job Title: Publicist

Organization: Beacon Press

Education: Florida Southern College (BA) & Emerson College (MA)

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in English Writing, minor in Vocal Performance, Master of Arts in Publishing and Writing

Perpetua Charles, GIVEN ’22

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

When I tell people my name is Perpetua, they often tell me they’ve never heard that name before and they ask me about its origin. I was named after Our Lady of Perpetual Help, patroness of Haiti, where my family is from. Her feast day is June 27; Our Lady visited my mother shortly after my birth in June with a request that I be dedicated to her in exchange for abundant blessings throughout my life. I love to share that story because I think it says so much about who I am and what matters to me—my family, my heritage, and my faith.

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

I work in book publishing, as a publicist at a nonprofit independent publisher of mostly nonfiction titles on topics of social justice. As almost any publishing professional will tell you, I grew up with a love of books that has followed me all the way to adulthood. Reading others’ narratives, be they personal or fictional, have inspired me in my own writing. I love the way words can be used to construct vivid images in my mind, which pairs well with my strong imagination. Promoting books written about history, race & culture, and education taps into that imagination, challenging me to use my gifts to work for a world that is more just for myself and the people I love.

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

God has given me the gift of feeling very, very deeply. It doesn’t always feel like a gift, but when I remember that my depth of emotion is a blessing, I am able to use it to accompany others in their joy and in their pain. It can be difficult to witness someone’s suffering and not be able to alleviate it in the ways I think it needs to be. But my presence and empathy, which always move me to prayer, often do more than I think—something I’m blessed to receive affirmation for in one way or another.

What women inspire you, and why?

My confirmation saint is St. Joan of Arc. As a young girl, I admired her for her strength of faith and character at a young age. She wasn’t very educated, but her obedience and love took her to heights that, until her, had only been seen by the most erudite in society. I have two degrees but still don’t consider myself the most learned person. I don’t always feel worthy of the spaces I find myself in. But Joan of Arc is someone who embodies the saying, “God does not call the equipped; He equips the called.” Where God has called me, He will give me what I need to succeed in His mission. St. Joan’s life reminds me of that.

Another woman I have admired since I was young is Princess Diana. She was a flawed woman, but her desire to love and to be loved is something I recognized and related to, even as a child. Despite the many emotional pains that she suffered both publicly and privately, Diana did her best to lead with love. She used her platform to center the needs of others, and, perhaps controversially, to document her personal journey from shame to self-confidence. This is something we as Catholic women can forget is an important aspect of being daughters of God—joyfully owning all the parts that we are and celebrating our unique selves wherever we go, without grandiosity and with all the humility that grace can bestow. It’s a challenging call, but it’s one that I believe the world got to witness her answer before her life was cut short…and one that I work daily to answer in my own life.

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

I have been blessed to know many holy women in my life. They offer me advice, pray with me, and tell me when I’m out of pocket! My GIVEN mentor was exactly the person I needed on my journey after attending the forum. Thanks to our shared heritage, she was able to support me in word and in prayer as my family underwent major life changes. The ability to share a similar context with someone who mentors you is an indispensable blessing that I hope every woman can receive.

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 love to sit in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, whatever form it takes. I feel His presence and I am drawn to being with Him when it’s possible. I have special devotions to St. Joseph, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, and to the Holy Family. I pray often to St. Dymphna, patron of mental health, to walk with me through my personal healing journey.

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

If St. Francis de Sales said it, I love it 😄 One of my favorite quotes of his is: “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them—every day begin the task anew.”

What were your key takeaways from the GIVEN Forum?

A workshop on burnout from Regina Boyd remains burned in my brain, and I still reference its lessons today. Learning that communicating assertively means affirming the God-given dignity of both myself and the individual on the other end of the interaction changed the way I choose to structure my conversations with others in my personal and professional life.

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

I devised my GIVEN action plan with my friend Mollie a few years ago. We used to lead a discussion group on the women of the Bible as part of our parish young adult ministry. After two years of pondering on (almost!) all the Bible’s women, we decided we wanted make that fruitful, prayerful experience available to a wider audience by reimagining the discussion group as a podcast. We group their stories into compelling themes that are relevant to all listeners—women listeners especially—like “New Beginnings,” “Sisterhood,” “Heroines & Villainesses,” “Motherhood,” etc. Each themed series explores the lives of these women by reading their passages, reviewing their historical context, and reflecting on questions that connect the women’s experiences to our own lives. Many episodes will feature a diversity of guests and perspectives who can further enrich the discussion, including scholars, speakers, and regular individuals who are passionate about the lives of these special, holy 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?

To be honest, after several months of substantial development progress, Mollie and I had to take a break! We both got hit with bad cases of covid, Mollie had a new job to acclimate to and grad school to wrap up, and I had family cycling through my apartment after I overcame my illness. I shared my feelings of guilt with my mentor. I worried that losing momentum on our action plan, after spending so much time developing it and telling so many people about it, would reflect poorly on us—or maybe just on me. But my mentor assured me that, as is true with all things, God knows our hearts and our intentions. He knows what we are capable of and when. Whatever happens with our podcast, we will never be seen as failures in God’s eyes. So, we are in the process of regrouping, more self-assured in the freedom to move at our own pace, as long as we remember we do this for the glory of God. Keep a listening ear out one day soon for Memorare: A Catholic Podcast on Women’s Stories in Scripture.