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Today’s Catholic woman

February 6, 2015
Shannon Cronan

“I’m so exhausted from trying to be both accomplished and attractive; what does it mean to be really happy and fulfilled as a woman?” says one high school girl. The other notes: “I have over 1,000 Facebook friends, and I’m constantly posting pictures of what I’m doing. So why do I feel so alone and unknown?”

When high school girls recently shared these thoughts with a room full of their peers, little did they know that they were expressing the sort of questions that have tugged at the heart of every woman in our modern culture. Why is it that the only women who seem to be fulfilled and worthy must be wildly seductive or exceptionally productive? In a culture where people are so virtually connected, why do our real connections seem to lack depth and authenticity?

In a world that constantly tells women that they are not enough, where will they find affirmation of their profound God-given worth? How will fathers make sure their daughters learn to cultivate relationships that are meaningful and abiding, when our society’s depiction of friendship, marriage, and family is so often misunderstood?

There is now a proven way to restore that sense of dignity to our daughters and friends, sisters and colleagues and through them transforming family life and culture. For over a decade, this has been the mission of Endow!

What started out in 2003 as a casual conversation among a few friends has grown into an international apostolate approved in over 120 dioceses in the United States, Canada and beyond. The hearts and minds of over 30,000 women and girls have been transformed by the invitation into the joy, freedom, and dignity that come from living out the gift of authentic femininity in Christ. “I was getting the message from the culture that I had to play down my femininity to be successful in society,” said Pauline, an Endow participant at St. Thomas More Church in San Francisco. “Endow gave me strength in no longer letting the world tell us we have to act like men and think like men in order to shine in the world. Endow helped me to embrace my feminine gifts and share them with society.”

Endow (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women) is an educational program that brings women together in small groups to pray and study as they grow in friendship and understanding of the Catholic faith. Groups are usually made of 8-12 women, and are led by a trained facilitator. Studies cover a wide array of theological themes ranging from saints’ life stories including Catherine of Siena and Edith Stein to papal encyclicals such as “God Is Love.” Study sessions are held weekly or bi-weekly and run for 8-10 weeks. There is no homework and the cost is just $19.95 for adults and $14.95 for youth.

Endow’s 17 studies not only help women delve into the rich teachings of the church but also give them a sense of how these truths can permeate their daily lives. “I wanted to find a group that could help me be a better mother, professional, wife – there was an unsettledness in my life. I needed to find friends who had the same concerns and struggles as me,” said Maria from St. Brendan Parish in San Francisco. “Endow was the answer to a lifelong search. I needed the knowledge that Endow gave me, to confirm me in my femininity, in my vocation as mother, wife, sister, colleague,” she continued.

Endow provides a place for women to discover God’s plan for their lives, no matter what their age or vocation. Endow women come from all walks of life. They are busy professionals, retired women, full-time mothers, and all mix together in groups where wisdom is shared and friendships are formed. Endow also has exciting youth programs as well. One teen girl from Michigan reflected: “Before I came to Endow I had no hope. I believed that I would be a statistic who was pregnant at 16 and didn’t get her GED till she was 24. But I know now there is so much more out there for me. I want to understand Jesus’ love in a deeper way. My dignity demands that I live a better life.”

Endow is growing and expanding in California and in the San Francisco area. Whether you are just curious about exploring the faith, or a lifelong believer desiring to dive ever deeper in the truths of the church, Endow is for you. In fact, a number of San Francisco area women recently became approved facilitators and will be starting study groups soon, so check out our website and join in. We’d love to have you!

Think of how our culture could be transformed by the witness of tens of thousands of women firmly rooted in their Catholic faith and pouring out their “feminine genius” on the world, women uniting love and truth.

St. Edith Stein was a philosopher, a convert from Judaism to Catholicism, and a victim of the Holocaust. She understood how truth and love mutually reinforce one another. “Do not accept anything as the truth,” she said, “if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie.”

Even without the Catholic faith, women exert a direct influence on culture. Endow challenges secular culture by focusing on love and Catholic truths. Endow women are of the church and they knit the fabric of a new Catholic culture.

Learn more at www.EndowGroups.org or call (720) 382-5242.

Shannon Cronan is the manager of Mission Advancement at Endow headquarters, Denver, Colorado.

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