PART 1: Bodacious Women
This week on Register Radio, I spoke with author Pat Gohn about her new book Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood. It’s obviously a fitting time to talk about women, since we are honoring our mothers on Mothers’ Day and our Blessed Mother, Mary, during the entire month of May.
I started off my interview asking Gohn about the three powerful words she uses to describe women. Here’s what she said: “What I see the book doing is introducing a conversation with woman about their dignity, their gift and their mission in the world. So each of those words speaks to one part of that: We have a blessed dignity; we have beautiful gifts; and we have a bodacious — a most excellent and remarkable mission as women.”
Referencing the book’s title, Register writer Sarah Reinhard gave her take on Gohn’s work in a May 4 book review, Women’s Wonders: “I felt like maybe there was just a bit too much ‘cutesy’ in this package for my taste. But within the pages of Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious, I found a treatise on womanhood that’s a far cry from ‘cutesy’ and a long way from ‘too much.’”
Said Reinhard, “Gohn grasps both the modern mentality and Church teaching in a voice that’s down-to-earth. She manages to be conversational without downplaying what’s important; if anything, her ability to address the tough issues head-on makes her more believable.”
My reaction was very much the same. As I opened up the book and began reading the first pages I was drawn in.
The forward is written by Terry Polakovic, the co-founder of Endow (acronym for Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women), an educational program that began 10 years ago to encourage women to study Blessed John Paul II’s writings on women. I’m on the board of Endow and I’ve been profoundly formed by Blessed John Paul’s thoughts on women. Gohn’s book presents those teaching in a fresh way and the book is full of her own personal stories of discovering God’s love and blessed design for women.
Our radio conversation delved into the uniqueness of women vs. our cultures egalitarian approach to gender (see Pia De Solenni’s Register column Mother’s Day: Gender Matters) as well as the special call that all women have to spiritual motherhood.
The interview is worth a listen and perhaps a “pass-along” to a woman you love.
PART 2: A Priest with a Passion
In the show’s second half, Register Radio co-host Dan Burke welcomed Father Geno Sylva to the EWTN radio studio in Birmingham, Ala. Father Sylva is a priest from the diocese of Paterson, New Jersey, where he founded a center for the new evangelization.
His passion for evangelization and the success of his ministry drew the attention of the Vatican and he was tabbed last year for a position in the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. He now lives in Rome and has helped the Vatican to coordinate events both in Rome and around the world during this Year of Faith. Information about these events can be found at the Vatican’s Home Page for the Year of Faith: www.annusfidei.va. Father Sylva highlighted one event in particular: a worldwide simultaneous celebration of Eucharistic adoration on June 2, The Solemnity of Corpus Christi. Pope Francis will preside in Rome and dioceses around the world will participate.
In the radio interview, Father Sylva explained that the origin of his passion for evangelization came from working with teenagers and then seeing the same young people who were once involve in the parish as teenagers no longer going to church five years. He began to question how the Church could reach them again.
“My passion for the new evangelization came from a very personal level with my experience with these young people,” said Father Sylva. His personal experience eventually led to the founding of St. Paul’s inside the Walls, a center for the new evangelization in Madison, N.J.
According to Father Sylva, the work of the new evangelization involves reaching out to people of various levels of engagement with the Catholic faith—ranging from those who attend Church regularly and those who’ve never had the Gospel presented to them.
“A constant thread” in any evangelization is “the one-on-one” relationship, he said, expressing concern that the new evangelization would be reduced only to a set of programs and events.
One of his main efforts is to find out “how do we move to a missionary mindset” and “help Catholics to understand the duty they have to speak to others about the faith—relationally and respectfully.”
While he emphasized the one-on-one aspect of evangelization, he did recognize the need to have “something to welcome them too”—that is vibrant masses, welcoming congregations and, yes, even new programs.
Listen to the interview to hear the dynamic ways Catholics are called to the new evangelization.