All these years, I never knew that the Unsinkable Molly Brown was a real person.

Nor did I know that she was a Catholic or that she was instrumental in the building of Denver’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

In fact, there are many things I never knew about Molly Brown.

The only thing I did know is that I became enchanted with her when, as a child, I watched the 1964 Metro-Goldwyn Meyer film about her titled, The Unsinkable Molly Brown. In the film, Molly’s character was played by Debbie Reynolds.

Molly was everything I wanted to be – a smart, bold, brave woman with an indomitable spirit.

Molly, you see, was a rags-to-riches Irish woman who survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912 on Lifeboat No. 6. She not only survived, but tried to convince the lifeboat’s in-charge, Quartermaster Robert Hichens, to go back and save more people. Whether Lifeboat No. 6 did indeed turn back hasn’t been verified in historical accounts.

Nonetheless, Molly, with her indomitable spirit, gave it her best shot.

Born Margaret Tobin, a poor Irish immigrant, she married J.J. Brown in 1886. J.J. was himself poor, but became instantly rich when he struck a substantial ore seam at the Little Jonny Mine in Leadville, Colorado. Her newly acquired wealth propelled Molly into a world of culture and philanthropy.

She campaigned for the improvement of women’s lives through education, helped support destitute children, established the first juvenile court in the United States, and took a role in the American Committee for Devastated France in the aftermath of World War I.

It was on a return trip from France that she boarded the SS Nomadic and from there was transferred to the RMS Titanic.

For personal reasons, Molly Brown has been on my mind a lot lately. Her indomitable spirit has me captivated once again, and I’m picturing Debbie Reynolds standing in the middle of Lifeboat No. 6, refusing to give up.

I don’t know anything about her spirituality or devotion, but I do know Molly was a Catholic and Catholic enough to go through the trouble of facilitating the building of a major Catholic cathedral.

Judging by the story of her life, I’d say Molly Brown was a woman of courageous hope.

I want that for myself. I want the Unsinkable Molly Brown’s indomitable spirit.

Tell the truth, I think we all need a dose of it right now. We face challenges on the world stage, within our country, and probably in our own homes and hearts as well. In case you haven’t noticed, it can get pretty ugly out there. Or in here. Sometimes, at least to me, it feels like I’m aboard the Titanic just after it hit the iceberg.

Here’s the thing that I think Molly Brown knew and of which we all need to be reminded.

We are called to be people of courageous hope.

The Lord Jesus taught us this directly when he told his disciples, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” (Jn 14:6)

The Church affirms this in the catechism:

Christian hope unfolds from the beginning of Jesus' preaching in the proclamation of the beatitudes. The beatitudes raise our hope toward heaven as the new Promised Land; they trace the path that leads through the trials that await the disciples of Jesus. But through the merits of Jesus Christ and of his Passion, God keeps us in the "hope that does not disappoint." Hope is the "sure and steadfast anchor of the soul . . . that enters . . . where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf." Hope is also a weapon that protects us in the struggle of salvation: "Let us . . . put on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation." It affords us joy even under trial: "Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation." Hope is expressed and nourished in prayer, especially in the Our Father, the summary of everything that hope leads us to desire. CCC, 1820)

Molly Brown could have gone down with the Titanic. She could have used the horrific experience as an excuse to live a pampered, quiet life henceforth. Instead, she let hope prevail and went on to serve God with indomitable spirit. That’s how she became the Unsinkable Molly Brown.

Right now, during these present times, we too need to become unsinkable, filled with courageous hope in God. Like Molly Brown.