During this day and age, many perceive leadership roles in the Catholic Church as only being available to men. However, if we look back at Scripture, along with the teachings of the saints, we will see that women have and continue to make significant impacts in the Church.
The New Testament mentions a number of women in Jesus’ close circle, most notably his mother Mary, whom we hold dear to our hearts, and Mary Magdalene, who discovered the empty tomb of Christ.
Mary is an excellent example of an influential woman in the Church, and she was a role model to her own cousin Elizabeth. We often hear of how women are not allowed to become priests, but many women work silently and efficiently and are always helping the Church grow.
Just because a woman teaching about Christ or caring for those who are in need in a third-world country is not visible to the rest of the world or covered much in the media, does not mean that she is not there, and that the Church is not growing due to her daily work and the giving of herself.
Mothers help grow the Church by teaching their children about Christ or taking them to Mass. Women also act as teachers, leading confirmation classes or helping little ones with their first Communion.
Some women have been so influential to the Church that they have been canonized as saints. A brilliant example of this is St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, who was given the prayer of the Divine Mercy Chaplet by Christ in 1935. Another more widely known female saint is St. Teresa of Kolkata, who founded the Missionaries of Charity, a religious order dedicated to loving and caring for those whom no one was prepared to care for. Mother Teresa was given a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts of charity and kindness.
Though we are taught to live as saints, most of us will not become canonized after our passing. But we should not let that stop us from using our faith and love to become leaders in our churches.
Parish groups such as the Mothers Society are great ways for women to become active in their parishes. Women of all ages can look into the life of sisterhood, and contemplate becoming a nun.
Society wants to tell us that the Church does not hold us to high enough standards to be important, but we know that is not true. The Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven, shows us that this cannot be true by being the Holy Mother of God.
Being a leader in the Church is not bound by the title of priest, deacon, bishop and so on. It's defined by sharing the love of Christ with others.
A good example is Sister Alison McCrary, who is a lawyer and a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Before she became a nun she was working to provide litigation support on death penalty cases in Louisiana in 2006. Her eyes were opened as she saw the numbers of those on death row and how the system had failed them. So she began to travel to help change the root causes of various types of poverty. She worked in the rough areas of Brazil, helping with racial justice and combating poverty. She volunteered in New Orleans to work with groups working on social justice laws, police accountability, criminal justice reform, human, civil and cultural rights.
In 2010, she graduated from Loyola University College of Law in New Orleans. While Sister Alison was not necessarily preaching the word of God, she definitely is an example of the virtues God gives us in order to help others.
So if you are young or old, mother or child, grandma or great-grandma, you are still seen in the eyes of God as equal to everyone around you.
God blesses us with the virtues of kindness and love, in order for us to better share his word, and he gives them to everyone, not just priests, deacons and all those who have leadership roles in the Church. God gives us all the task of spreading his Word, no specific gender. One Church, one God, now and forever.
Madeline Kennedy, a junior at Charleston High School, attends Sacred Heart Church in Charleston.
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