Young women attend a leadership forum for young Catholic women in 2016 at The Catholic University of America in Washington. In dioceses across the U.S., the 300 attendees are now implementing their "action plans," new initiatives inspired by their gifts, interests and leadership skills. CNS photo/Bob Roller

Speaking out: Working for the Catholic Church

By  Janelle Lafantaisie, Speaking Out
  • December 1, 2017
When I was 18 years old, a fresh high school graduate with loads of ambition and what seemed like direction for my life, I felt an overbearing sense of guilt.

The guilt came from an external sense that I was being misled. I was accepted to the I.H. Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba. I knew I wanted to be a businesswoman.

But a lot of people around my age who were deeply involved in their faith were either heading off to the Catholic youth ministry NET Canada (or NET Ireland or Australia) or they were joining a local outreach program.

Some were taking a year off and “finding themselves” and really seeing where God was calling them. Others were getting married and settling into nice part-time jobs to help pay the bills. My friends who were pursuing post-secondary education were either going into nursing or social work, or just going for the experience.

I felt like I was the only person with a purpose and an end goal for the next four or five years.

Many people offered their input into my decisions, making me feel like I was doing the wrong thing as a Catholic, a woman, or both.

Maybe I was supposed to go work on some sort of outreach program, find the love of my life and then make a family. Or maybe I was supposed to go work with the poor. Or maybe I was supposed to go travel and find God’s will for my life. But the corporate world? Certainly not.

I felt this way for the first few years of my accounting degree until someone in the Winnipeg Catholic community who I look up to said, “Hey, the Church needs accountants!” And a light bulb turned on. It reassured me even as I changed majors that as an aspiring businesswoman, I, too, have a place in the Church and in academic life.

I got involved at the Catholic college on the U of M campus and I found joy in taking Catholic Studies classes as my electives. In addition to being able to use my skills and talents, I joined the parish council in my church and have even led community prayer groups.

This made me feel better. To be a practising Catholic pursuing a business degree was a concept I could accept.

The Church needs accountants. She needs human resources specialists and doctors and social workers and biologists and astronomers and even, photographers. We are called to bring Christ into the world regardless of our vocation.

We’re called to travel and bring Christ with us. We’re called to say grace quietly to ourselves before the company luncheon because we’re not ashamed to profess our faith. We’re called to sneak away during our lunch hours and go to a daily Mass if there’s one nearby.

We’re called to be there for our husbands and children and to be a support to them.

We, as Catholic women, as professionals, as homemakers, are called to so much more than our label in this given life.

(Lafantaisie, 23, is a freelance photographer in Winnipeg, Man.)

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