Is it possible in today’s world to be a faithful Catholic, loving wife, devoted mother and a successful businesswoman?
Paige Barry of Atlanta strives to do so each day.
Barry is a 43-year-old working mother of two who has been married for 15 years. She is a senior vice president with a Fortune 500 global technology provider serving the financial services industry.
In addition to her career and busy home life, she is actively involved in her parish and runs the successful career ministry at her church.
How has your Catholic faith affected the way you handle your career?
My Catholic faith is instrumental to every aspect of my career. I read my
Magnificat to center me for my day. I use prayer to prepare me for difficult conversations. I pray for the individuals who work for me who are struggling in their jobs; and I ask God for guidance in my big career decisions.
As a Catholic business leader, I feel I have a responsibility to see God in everyone I work with, especially the people I find most difficult. I enjoy sharing prayers with my staff who I know are open to a relationship with God; and I find myself in frequent conversations answering questions about our Catholic faith.
As a wife, mother and Catholic, how do you balance life’s demands?
I believe that God expands time to allow us to serve him, and I look for ways to integrate my family with my ministry work. I have invited job seekers to our home for one-on-one coaching, which allows me to be present to my children and show them one way we can love our neighbor. One of my favorite ministries is playing Bingo at a nursing home. The kids and I do that together. The balance comes by limiting my time away from home to no more than one night a week and preferably only one night every other week. When work requires my time and focus when I am scheduled to serve others, and it has this past year, I have leaned on volunteers and God to provide in my absence. He always does.
Does your team know you are Catholic? How does this affect their interactions with you?
I wear my Catholicism on my sleeve. I am immensely proud of our faith. I try not to be overbearing, and I am always looking for ways to preach the Gospel without words. I find that using well-known Scripture verses or saying something like, "God always provides" or showing gratitude by saying, "Praise God!" sometimes opens a door to discussing faith in the workplace. Sometimes people just hear it as mere words. I can’t think of a single time anyone has ever questioned or objected to the way I insert my faith into the way I approach work.
The key for me living my Catholic faith in the workplace is to maintain my humility at all times while being open to being God’s instrument. This is not easy for me, as I struggle with self-sufficiency and pride daily. There is a prayer to the Holy Spirit I use every day to help remind me of the need to be humble and to let God use me for his purposes. I keep that prayer posted in my office right behind my phone; and it is also saved to my cellphone if I need it while I am away from my desk.
I have had the occasion to share that prayer twice recently with two non-Catholic Christians. One works for me and is a woman of prayer who is all about love and giving. The other is a fellow job-search support volunteer who, like me, believes that a strong relationship with God is the best (and first) job-search tool anyone in transition needs. They love the prayer, use it and have shared it with others.
With a hectic job, enormous demands on your time and typical life stress, how do you find time for prayer?
Some days I am much better at it than others. I try to start every day with prayer and at least 10 minutes reading my Magnificat with my first cup of coffee. I am not a morning person, so this is a difficult discipline. If I am running late, I take my Magnificat to work and try reading it while my laptop is booting up or I’ll read it when a conference call ends early. My husband is a musician, and, for my birthday, he made me a CD of him praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I keep it in my car so I can pray it during my commute. In the past year, I have improved and increased my night prayer by praying intercessory novenas; I use the "Team Novena" app on my iPhone. And I try to pray at least four novenas concurrently. For me, night prayer has been an easier discipline than Morning Prayer. The first 20 minutes I am in bed at night I devote to prayer.
I absolutely love to read, and, as much as I can, I read everything on my Kindle, so I can take several books with me wherever I go. I am always reading more than one book at a time, and I don’t pressure myself to finish faith-formation reading in a specific period of time.
What legacy do you want to leave behind? How do you want to be remembered by family, friends and co-workers?
I hope people would describe me as generous, loyal and prayerful. I pray my family remembers me as a woman true to herself who loved well. I pray my friends remember me as someone who would offer prayers for them and actually prayed them. I pray my co-workers remember me as someone with exceptionally high standards who worked hard to encourage the growth of others.
What I want most of all is for God to be pleased with how I used the many, many gifts he has given me: my marriage, my children and all the blessings that have allowed me to enjoy such a terrific career. I am eager to hear him tell me some day I got things right and followed the path he chose for me.
Randy Hain writes from Atlanta and is the author of
Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith (Liguori).
He is senior editor of The Integrated Catholic Life e-magazine.