“Make heaven crowded” is a little Pinterest inspiration that I saw online and it got me thinking – am I living my life in a way that promotes dignity and puts me in solidarity with all people? It felt really easy to get involved when I was a student at USF because it seemed like the right thing to do as a member of the St. Ignatius Institute. I graduated in December 2019, and it’s been a process to realize that my faith life is something personal that I am completely in charge of. There aren’t necessarily going to be activities that are going to hold my hand. To my surprise, there was when I got an invitation to talk to women my age and religious women who were living out the mission of social justice and were interested in talking about that call for justice and the women’s role in the Catholic church. These were topics that I had spent some time reflecting on but not nearly enough I realized after gaining so much insight on other people’s ideas and opinions.
I brought up a question – how do you approach people who think it’s contradictory to be a woman and a Catholic? I was kind of initially confused by the first response. The religious sister talked about how women have played such a key role in providing relief through their social justice movements. It wasn’t really answering my question but follow up responses made me realize that I was ignoring the massive role that religious women and lay women have also played in the Catholic Church. These women, through their actions, were sending a message of hope to the world. Although sometimes it feels like women are unjustly held back in the church, I have found comfort in hearing about and also personally participating in acts of service. Justice can’t happen without faith. This is because without faith you don’t have hope that things are going to change and without said hope, you will burn out. After this dialogue, I felt deeply called to participate in Catholic ministries that serve the poor because it reminded me of the joy of service that I had experienced in my undergraduate years. The connector between faith and justice is hope – “Dwell in hope.” -Psalm 16:9. I encourage you to pray and discern where God may be calling you to a mission of hope through acts of social justice.