June 22, 2016 // Local
GIVEN 2016: Young women embrace their feminine genius
Our lives are an unmerited gift from God the Father, fashioned in His image and loved into being. God has given us unique gifts to be embraced. We are called to respond by developing and sharing our gifts. In allowing our gifts and the desires of our hearts to be manifest in and for the world, we become who we are created to be.
This was the message of GIVEN 2016: Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum. June 7th through 12th, GIVEN brought together 300 young women in their 20s for a week of faith formation, networking, and leadership training. Gathering on the campus of Catholic University of America in Washington D.C., these women attended dynamic talks, spent time in prayer, and developed initiatives that will allow them to further recognize and utilize their unique gifts.
Among the attendees was South Bend resident Megan Gettinger, Holy Cross College Hall Director and mother of two toddlers. Applying after learning about the conference via social media, Megan was drawn to the theme of the gifts each person has been given and how one can be a gift to the world.
Megan shares that “The role of women in the Church and the feminine genius are two topics I am always eager to learn more about, so the entire premise of the conference appealed to me. I loved learning more about the Theology of Woman and how to more effectively develop and use my gifts for the service of the Church and the world.”
Sister Mary Gabriel, SV, GIVEN event chair, shares that GIVEN invited religious sisters “to be for young women, regardless of vocational call, what women religious have been through the centuries: a supportive, encouraging, and formative presence for young women as they launch their own response to the gift of their lives.”
Each day began and ended with the opportunity for adoration, and Mass was offered midday. Participants met daily in a small group with a religious sister. Attendees listened to talks on a range of topics, including “Reclaiming the gifts of God,” “Receiving the Gift of the Kingdom,” and “Finding Balance in Life.” Megan describes the conference as “a packed week that felt like a hybrid of a college course, job training, retreat, and meet and greet.”
Among the presenters was Dr. Carolyn Woo, President & CEO of Catholic Relief Services, whose talk was titled “Your Gifts are for Others.” Megan shares that “I was struck by Dr. Woo’s humility, joy and love. As she shared the story of her life and work, it was apparent that she has continually surrendered her gifts, her intellect, natural perseverance and charity to the will of God.” Megan continues “Dr. Woo has gone wherever God called her to go to serve his people.”
Each of the women who attended GIVEN were given a full scholarship after completing an application process. This application included sharing why they wanted to attend and developing an Action Plan that they would implement in their dioceses after the conference. Sponsored by the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, the conference was made possible by a grant from the Hilton Foundation and the GHR Foundation for the Year of Consecrated Life.
GIVEN will continue to find its fruition throughout the coming months and years as participants allow the insights and tools received to launch their gifts in their dioceses and in the world. Sister Mary Gabriel, SV shares that “We’re excited to see the dreams of the attendees come to fruition through their Action Plans and through the ripple effect that will come about through all they received at GIVEN.”
Megan shares that “My Action Plan is to create a ministry that will provide formation and support for college-aged women. I feel very passionate about what I have learned, and I hope to weave it into every conversation and interaction moving forward.”
She continues “Women in the Church are called to be prophetic, to share the truth boldly. In my role as a lay woman, I particularly hope to share the truth of what it means to be authentically feminine: to have varied gifts, passions, and vocations all united under a burning passion for bringing the love of Christ to others.”
Sister Mary Gabriel, SV shares that “GIVEN was a unique event in the life of the Church and a welcome one from what I could see from the response of the attendees. I am filled with gratitude from seeing how invested the Lord was in this event. He clearly loves and cares for young women in the Church in an abundant way.”
By mid-July, all talks will be available via audio or video download on the GIVEN website: www.givenforum.org.
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