Empowerment in the Church - A Letter from Jess

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Hello friend —

I’m writing you from my kitchen table after one lengthy day of work. My apartment smells of roasted garlic and lemon and there’s a huge pile of clean sheets on my bed. My stomach is full and I’m fading fast, but first, I want to tell you about a conversation I had that changed the way I view femininity in the Catholic Church.

While attending art school in Georgia, I worked for an event florist run by an eclectic group of women who watched daytime soaps and crafted nicknames for all the clients they found unpleasant. It was an interesting environment, to say the least, but I really enjoyed working with the flowers. One afternoon while snipping hydrangeas, I had a thought provoking conversation with the shop owner. Her name was Helen and the topic was Catholicism and gender equality. Helen was under the impression that women were viewed as inferior in the Catholic Church. I don’t recall what I said in reply but I do remember how I felt.

Helen had opened a can of worms that day. You see, I have a heart for the empowerment of others, particularly women, and I needed clarity. Deep down, I already knew truth, but I dug and dug until I hit gold.

Hear me, sister. Today, let’s be confident in knowing that the Church treasures women. And we each have a role to play. And women may have different roles than men, but that does not make them less. Whatever your role is, I challenge you to play it well.

I’m off to address that heaping wad of sheets on my bed. Take care.

Get to know Jess

Jess is a 25 year old graphic designer, an equestrian and a PNW native, who enjoys cooking as an outlet.  

What do the first two hours of your day look like? Some mornings, I do CrossFit first thing. Then breakfast. Usually peanut butter oatmeal or eggs + toast. Before I start work, I'll spend a few minutes in quiet prayer (sometimes this happens in my car on the way to the office.) 

What's your favorite part about graphic design? I enjoy that moment when I start to see a project come together.

Photo by Tori Mercedes Walls

Photo by Tori Mercedes Walls

What's one fear that keeps you up at night? Lack of productivity often makes me anxious. It's a battle. But I'm fighting.

Tell us about the first time you experienced a strong sense of belonging in the Catholic Church. I come from a family of faith and have always felt a sense of belonging there. But if I were to point out a particular moment it would be this:
During college, I studied abroad in a medieval village in the south of France. During this time, I became friends with a student coordinator named Kate, and every Sunday, she would drive me to a different town for mass. In this region of France, Catholicism was sparse and the priest traveled to a different little town each weekend. It was here while sitting in an old stone church and listening to a french mass, that I felt so connected to the Church. The language was no barrier. And that was beautiful.

Tell us about a woman you look up to. My Grandma Joan. She passed away in 2014 and we were close friends. Grandma Joan was a prayer warrior and a mother to five. Even though some of her children rejected the faith, she never once gave up on them. Joan enjoyed watching baseball, card games and long days at the beach.

Favorite literary character. Go! Bilbo Baggins. I think I identify with his personality and hobbit-like tendencies. Bilbo valued the comforts of home, security and a warm hearth. But more than this, I admire the growth of his character and his adopted adventurous spirit.  

I also wouldn't mind living in the Shire.