Last Year’s Winning Essay
What it Means to be a Catholic Woman in the World Today
by Nora Tucker
Dripping with sweat under the sweltering sun, sleep deprived yet high on life, Harlan, Kentucky, is where I’m in my element. I thrive when I’m able to serve others, and as a Catholic woman I am able to do just that.
In five days of sweat, sunburns, and service, myself and 90 fellow parishioners make homes safer, warmer, and drier; grow in faith; build an indestructible bond with a family; and share the true message of Catholicism with the people of Harlan. In a place where Catholicism has a negative connotation, our generous actions stem from our love of God and all of his people, and our work sheds light on the Catholic value of social justice.
Many people view Catholicism as inherently sexist, from Jesus’s 12 male apostles to the lack of female priests. However, I believe that this makes the role of women in the church even more important. Because we cannot serve as priests and deacons, we are not the most visible representatives of Catholicism. We don’t stand in front of a congregation and instead, are called to teach Catholic values through our actions.
With role models like Saint Teresa of Calcutta and Saint Katherine Drexel, who gave everything they had and devoted themselves to serving others, it is easy to see that being a Catholic woman means spending your life in service to others. This is further revealed to me on my parish’s mission trip, as more than two-thirds of participants (both teens and adults) are female. I look up to the women I serve with, and their devotion to helping the least and lowliest of God’s people, as they show me what it means to be a Catholic woman in the world today.