She Who Walks With the Lions – Genesis, Oakland, CA

Shelley Coppock is a Mary’s Pence board member who lives in Oakland, California. She recently met with Mary Lim-Lampe, Genesis Lead Organizer. Genesis is a two time Mary’s Pence Grant recipient that develops community leaders who collaborate to solve community problems.

Genesis is an interfaith coalition of congregations and other institutions located in California’s Alameda County, Oakland East Bay area. Created in 2007, the values-based organization unites a broad base of people to work on issues of social justice and racial/economic equity. Affiliated with the international Gamaliel Foundation and following in the Saul Alinsky school of issue-oriented community organizing, the group emphasizes training and leadership development in low-income communities to help create the “Beloved Community.” Its active participants include youth interns, and “leaders” (not just volunteers) from its various constituent organizations. They encourage members to reflect on what is keeping them from taking leadership. As an organization, Genesis always thinks about and inserts an understanding of institutional racism into its work and consciously “talks to the middle” instead of speaking only to groups and individuals who already agree with them.

Octavia speaks at the September Youth Action Protest of the Freedom Riders regarding the free youth bus passes.

Octavia speaks at the September Youth Action Protest of the Freedom Riders regarding the free youth bus passes.

Genesis received its first Mary’s Pence grant in 2013, enabling a group of young women to participate in Gamaliel’s national community organizing training program for women, called Ntosake, an African word that means “she who walks with the lions and carries her own things.” The orientation of the training by Gamaliel and Genesis is agitational: to help politicize young women through seeing and experiencing themselves as powerful people.

The young women also participated in Genesis’ two-year issue campaign to obtain free youth bus passes in Alameda County, speaking out at large public meetings and to the media. Octavia Moore, a Genesis youth intern from Oakland’s First Congregational Church, told her story of the challenges and costs of relying on the public bus to go to school and back home to a local environmental group. Afterwards, one of the leaders of the group told her that, as a result of Octavia’s personal sharing, she had changed her mind and decided to support the group endorsing the measure. In 2014, Alameda County voters passed a measure allocating $15 million towards a county Youth Bus Pass Program.
Genesis received its second Mary’s Pence grant in February of this year to support further leadership training for young women as well as Genesis’ Freedom Riders program that seeks to influence the implementation of the Youth Bus Pass Program. According to Genesis’ full-time lead organizer, Mary Lim-Lampe, in many ways, this is an even harder fight than getting the measure passed by voters because it involves going to seemingly-endless and boring task force meetings that are held at times when it is difficult for youth to attend. In early September, Octavia Moore and other Genesis youth activists led a direct action on the office of the County’s Deputy Director to obtain a commitment to implement the free youth bus passes that young people need.

Octavia listens to Mary Lim-Lampe, Genesis Lead Organizer, speak at the May Genesis Issues Task Force meeting.

Octavia listens to Mary Lim-Lampe, Genesis Lead Organizer, speak at the May Genesis Issues Task Force meeting

At the same time that Genesis is working on implementing and monitoring the youth bus pass program, the group is in the process of selecting a new issue around which to organize. Part of its organizing strategy is that to build power, we need to ask for things. Through an inclusive decisional process, its issues task force does the “issue cut” by discussing a variety of issues that are winnable, concrete, involve a short timeline, have a specific target, and are in the hearts and minds of people. The next step is to do a series of meetings to obtain more information, using what they call the “radical tool” of listening.

Many of the member congregations of Genesis have been very affected by the Black Lives Matter movement and have had challenging discussions about how to respond to it. In addition to the issue of police accountability and community violence, Genesis is considering organizing around issues of the school to prison pipeline, health, and human trafficking. Through this ongoing process Genesis continues to strengthen the voices and confidence of young women community leaders to create healthier communities and plant the seeds of sustainable systemic change.

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Issue of Justice: Black Lives Matter

Katharine Garvey-Hall is the older sister of Mary’s Pence Development and Communications Liaison, Grace Garvey-Hall. She grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis, MN, studied social justice and education reform at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, and earned her masters in Urban Education at the University of Chicago. She currently teaches middle school in the Chicago public schools. As a white woman and a daily witness to racism, she offers unique insight into the role of white people in the growing Movement for Black Lives.

The origin of this grows out of a family dinner conversation. Let me set the scene: I am sitting in my parent’s backyard on a cool August evening. I am visiting my childhood home in a suburb of Minneapolis, MN from Chicago where I now live. Today, Black Lives Matter protesters marched to the gates of the Minnesota State Fair to call attention to the lack of vendors of color at the fair, in addition to the broader Black Lives Matter platform such as police brutality. The protest sparked controversy in our community that reflects a national conversation about Black Lives Matter.

Katharine Garvey-Hall at the front of her classroom teaching Math.

Katharine Garvey-Hall at the front of her classroom teaching Math.

“I guess I just don’t understand what they are trying to accomplish” one of my family members says.  Another offers a critique about the process: “I agree that police violence should be stopped, I just don’t feel like they are going about it in the right way.”

These are refrains that I have often heard before. Honestly, I’ve made comments like these before too. It is in those moments that I have to pause.

I spend a lot of time in spaces that belong to people of color. I am a middle school teacher at a public school on Chicago’s West Side. My students are Black. The majority of my co-wokers are Black. As the Movement for Black Lives has gained momentum it has become more and more a topic of conversation in my classroom. During one discussion about police brutality with my class of 8th grade boys I asked the class “How many of you have had negative encounters with the police?”

Every single hand in the room went up.

My job in that moment was to listen to my students, who are only children, share story after story about the rude, cruel, and downright demeaning way they have been treated.

Never having experienced this first hand it is difficult to hear. It is difficult to believe that the police, who have always made me feel safe and respected, don’t treat my students the same way.  I have to understand that the Movement for Black Lives isn’t about me, it is about those who experience violence and racism first-hand.

That is why I have to pause when I want to say that I disagree with the methods of Black Lives Matter protesters. Who am I, a white woman, to assume that I know more about the needs of people of color than people of color themselves? Since I have never experienced violence or hostility from the police, how can I assume that I know the “right way” to address police brutality? This type of thinking is the root of white supremacy. How easy it is for me to feel entitled to dictate a conversation in a space that simply doesn’t belong to me.

Furthermore, these critiques deflect the responsibility that I have to the movement. While this movement focuses on Black lives, it doesn’t mean that White people don’t have a supporting role to play. I agree with the concept that black lives do in fact matter. That is enough for me to throw my weight behind the movement.

I’ve come to understand my role as twofold, first a listener and second as an amplifier.

Besides listening to my students and friends of color, another way that I “listen” is by doing a lot of reading and research. Many, many people have written blogs and articles that serve as educational tools about the Movement for Black Lives, the importance of the movement, and the stories that inspire it. Much of this is available for you on the internet. If you are curious to learn more about the movement, Google and Facebook can be your best friends for gathering information to better understand the movement, especially if you live your life in predominantly white spaces and don’t hear these narratives first hand.

My role as a listener enables me to then amplify the black voices in spaces where they are not often heard. As a white person the things I say about race are often perceived differently than when Black people speak. In predominantly white spaces my voice carries a different tone. I can push my family, friends, and colleagues to think about race in a way that my friends of color cannot. I can push back on thinking without having my white friends shut down.

I remember having a conversation with a friend of mine around the time the officer who murdered Michael Brown was acquitted. While we agreed with about the tragic nature of the event we disagreed about appropriate legal outcome. She told me about an article she read explaining the legal outcome and why they legally couldn’t charge him with the murder.

“What I’ve been reading about in the wake of this,” I said cautiously, “is that this incident is only further proof that the laws are unjust. This is only further proof that there are systems in place that make it acceptable to kill young black men and women free of consequence, that’s why this isn’t an isolated incident. I can send you the links to some of the blogs I’ve read if you want.”  A few days later I sent her an email with a few links and a space for continued dialogue, and we did continue the conversation. This was an important opportunity to amplify voices she may not have previously heard, and in doing so I found my voice and space in the dialogue.

I used this same approach of careful dialogue and sharing with my loved ones at the table on that cool evening in August. And I will practice listening and amplifying as the national conversation about Black lives continues.

Check out these links to learn more about the Black Lives Matter movement:

Black Lives Matter on Facebook:

A profile of the Black Lives Matter, St. Paul leader:

The Wikipedia overview:

The official website:

The Black Lives Matter Policy Platform:


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Interview with Gaby in La Voz Latina

Gaby Bandini, new ESPERA Business Facilitator, was recently interviewed for an article in La Voz Latina, a Spanish language newspaper for the Latino community in St. Paul and Minneapolis where Mary’s Pence offices are located. We have translated the article here for your convenience. You can click here to read the original article in Spanish.

Gabriela Bandini, New Business Facilitator for Mary’s Pence
By, Leonor Villasuso
Translated by Grace Garvey-Hall2015 gaby in la voz

Located in St. Paul, MN, the organization Mary’s Pence works to fund projects that benefit women who lack resources in six countries on the American continent and the Caribbean with the goal of contributing to the betterment of their physical, social and economic conditions – to date there are a little over 900 women participating across the ESPERA Program (Economic Systems Providing Equitable Resources for All). Mary’s Pence donates money to the nine groups of women they work with, and the women take out loans that they use to start agricultural or artisan projects or small shops. Many of the participants are illiterate, which is why it is especially important that they have someone who can teach them accounting, budgeting and marketing, and why Mary’s Pence has recently hired Gabriela Bandini (Meixco, Federal District, 1983) as the Business Facilitator for the ESPERA Program which operates in Meixco, Central America and Haiti.
Bandini joins Mary’s Pence with ample experience working with rural communities in Mexico since 1985. She worked as an External Consultant for Corazon Verde – Central de Comercio Justo and the Instituto de Liderazgo Simone de Beauvoir, both in the Federal District, Mexico; a Project Consultant for Espacios Alternativos, S.C. in Oaxaca and Chiapas; Inter-Organizational Relations Coordinator for the Red Binacional de Mujeres Niu Matat Napawika in Puebla; Regional Field Promoter for the Fundación Tarahumara Jose A. LLaguno; Barter Centers and Fair Trade Coordinator for the Centro de Desarrollo Alternativo Indigena, both in Chihuahua; Rural Women Project Director in the municipal of Zaragoza for the Universidad de Monterrey, in Nuevo Leon. She also has a degree in international business from the Universidad de Monterrey (2007) as well as an international masters in rural development from the consortium of European universities of the University of Ghent (Belgium), Humboldt University (Germany), Slovak University of Agriculture (Eslovaquia) and Wageningen University (Holland), and she graduated with honors from both.Gabriela_Voz
In an interview, Bandini spoke about her role as the Business Facilitator: “My role at Mary’s Pence is to collaborate with the organizations of women in the ESPERA Program to encourage and support their different economic activities. Promoting all of those forms of production and consumption that consider the well-being of all and good use of natural resources, assuring access for future generations. The objective of my job is that the economic initiatives of the women generate income and at the same time permit them to access different resources that support their quality of life like: making decisions for themselves in their family life, their communities and with the different organizations they participate in; adequate access for the use and management of natural resources; formation of equal relationships; access to good health for them and their loved ones; the opportunity to participate in actions or activities that make them feel fulfilled and the opportunity to develop or strengthen their abilities. These, among other resources that will also be to their benefit.”
In conclusion, about her expectations of this new position, Bandini mentions; “… That there is more just trade and that there is broad recognition of knowledge, of the productive and organizational processes of local women and their communities, that will positively influence the regions and countries where we live and work. I hope to be able to be part of small transformations that through bettering the economic initiatives of these women will serve to construct a better society.

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Meet Mary’s Pence- Taylor

Greetings, Mary’s Pence community!
My name is Taylor Harwood, and I will be providing development and communications support for Mary’s Pence this year as a St. Joseph Worker volunteer. The St. Joseph Worker Program is a year of service for women committed to social change. A ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, the program focuses on the core values of community, leadership, spirituality, and social justice. Mary’s Pence is an ideal fit for all of these values, especially with its connection to global social justice.

taylor bio picture 8_24
This spring, I graduated from St. Catherine University (St. Kate’s) in St. Paul with degrees in English and History. My senior history thesis centered on experiences of Japanese American students at colleges in the Midwest during World War II. For my honors thesis, I wrote a modern screenplay adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s 1869 novel, An Old-Fashioned Girl. Writing is a lifelong passion for me, and I hope to continue writing screenplays and other stories in addition to the writing I will be doing at Mary’s Pence.

Opportunities to study abroad during my undergrad opened my eyes, hands, and heart to global perspectives. A semester in Wales and a month of traveling through Europe increased my independence and ravenous thirst for both travel and interacting with people from diverse backgrounds. Part of the reason Mary’s Pence is already so close to my heart after only a week of working here stems from my month-long visit to Guatemala last January for a social justice- focused class. I continue to be moved by the beauty of the land, the warmth of the people I met, and the systemic, unjust social and economic problems I observed (many of which are directly linked to actions by my own country, the United States).

When I first learned about Mary’s Pence, I was intrigued: A feminist, international organization, advocating for social change through empowering women? How had I not heard about this before? After doing more research into Mary’s Pence, I was fascinated to discover that there are Mary’s Pence grantees all across North America as well as Central America. I was further drawn to the organization by Mary’s Pence’s emphasis on following the principles of Catholic Social Teaching and helping communities advocate for themselves. One week into my year at Mary’s Pence, I feel humbled and amazed to be part of an organization where the values align so precisely with my own.

More than anything, the strength and ability of the women at Mary’s Pence inspires me, grantees, donors, board members, staff, and volunteers alike. I am looking forward to all I will learn from Mary’s Pence this year, and I am excited to contribute to the hard work of everyone involved in Mary’s Pence.

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Stories of Success – Asylee Women Enterprise

Asylee Women Enterprise helps women seeking asylum to rebuild their lives and their spirits. Asylee Women Enterprise (AWE) provides transitional housing, companionship and community to women seeking asylum by offering a safe and nurturing home, opportunities to connect with women in the larger community and each other.
AWE has received two Mary’s Pence Grants. Recently, they shared this deeply moving story of what their work meant for one woman, T.IMG_1142

T. is a 37 year-old woman also from central Africa. She had worked for a major airline as an airline manager. She was gang raped and left for dead because she would not allow a known terrorist to board an airplane. She thought she was doing her job but unfortunately the employer and the government did not protect her. She arrived in the United States with only the phone number of someone that knew her uncle. That family said that they could not help her but sent her to live with another family.
When she arrived with that family she realized that they had taken her in to be the “third wife” to the husband. The other two wives had six children between them. T. was not allowed leave the home at all. She was locked inside all day with the children. She was forced to clean, cook and take care of the personal needs of the children and adults. Daily the other wives would tell her, “We could kill you and dump your body and no one would know it.” “No one knows you are here or cares that you are here.” One day the second wife threatened to throw acid on T. That is when she broke a window and fled, once again, for her life.
Luckily, T. ran to a church that knew about AWE and called us. We were able to offer her housing. We helped her find an attorney and she is currently awaiting her asylum decision. She attended the co-op on a weekly basis while she was awaiting her work authorization. During that time she created a resume, worked on her English pronunciation and networked with many volunteers. Once she was authorized to work, AWE helped her to find employment. She is working full-time – with benefits! She recently moved into her own apartment and plans to purchase her first car!

Mary’s Pence loves to partner with our grantees to empower women and change lives. To learn more about AWE visit:

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Grantee Highlight – The Justice Project, Kansas City, MO

“Poverty is not a crime, it’s a human rights issue” – Kris Wade, Executive Director and Founder of The Justice Project

Miss X is a 64 year old clinically diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic with frequent psychotic episodes. When members of The Justice Project met her while doing outreach at a local meal program/food pantry, they learned she had been chronically homeless and living in a homeless shelter for 10 years. This shelter was illegally taking her Supplemental Security Income and telling her payee that Miss X was receiving case management, mental health care, meals, and had her own room – nothing was further from the truth.

This story reflects the rough circumstances through which many women connect with The Justice Project.
Personal RelationshipsJusticeP3

The Justice Project is an organization that uses a model of long term support and compassionate advocacy to build relationships with women in poverty and partner with them as they navigate various legal systems. They nurture personal relationships with their constituents, and also encourage peer to peer relationships using a non-judgmental, trust building, strengths based approach that is humanizing and lets the women know The Justice Project will support them as long as they choose to be engaged in the program.

This year, The Justice Project instituted a one-on-one budgeting program that helps women utilize their limited resources better. As they learn to budget they are also helping other women learn to do the same. These kinds of one-on-one programs and relationships support women taking the necessary steps to build the lives they want.

Systemic Change

But Kris Wade, the Executive Director and founder, and others involved in The Justice Project know that personal relationships with the women aren’t enough to change systems. The Justice Project is also concerned with generating greater understanding within the systems that are in place to help women experiencing poverty, which is why they build relationships with other community organizations and individuals in positions of power in the community. The Justice Project partners with the local Juvenile and Family Court services providing informational trainings for judges and prosecutors on understanding and working with system challenged women and girls in poverty (including transgender women). They are also members of the Missouri Department of Corrections Re-entry Program community advisory board and meet quarterly with the police chief of Kansas City, Mo. advising him on how their participants are being treated by police out in the streets. Kris Wade tells us, “Once system folks understand the challenges of our constituents as a human rights issue, and are able to see their progress, they become more amenable to working in better ways with the women.”IMG_6798

Most recently, The Justice Project was appointed to the Kansas Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Advisory and Policy Board. This board is composed of state legislators, law enforcement, court personnel and service providers and helps create options and policy regarding prostituted and other trafficked persons. Because many of the women they advocate for and partner with are survivors of sex trafficking and prostitution, this is a critical place for The Justice Project to have a voice. The Justice Project members are active participants in the Coalition Against Human Trafficking, which was spearheaded by the United States Attorney’s office in the Kansas City, Mo. area. They routinely partner with FBI and local police on trafficking and prostitution stings, providing ongoing onsite support for recovered trafficked women and girls.

The Justice Project also does outreach to at-risk youth, and constituents often participate in this effort. This has helped both the young people who are at risk and the women who are participating in the outreach program see that even the most challenged individual can make great progress – the kind of progress Miss X was able to make thanks to The Justice Project’s compassionate, human rights approach that tackles the issue on both a personal and a systemic level.


Over time, The Justice Project built trust with Miss X. Eventually they got her out of the shelter that was exploiting her and she was able to see a compassionate psychiatrist who prescribed psychiatric medication injections that did not require Miss X to take oral meds (which she had a hard time remembering to do). As her mental illness became better controlled, she gained control of her life. With the help of The Justice Project, Miss X partnered with the nonprofit organization that serves her, and she was able to get into an apartment where she has successfully been living on her own since last October.sabrinavotes

The Justice Project also guided Miss X through the social service system, and she now has food stamps and supplemental health insurance in addition to Medicare. She is also now involved in a women’s crafting group where she is building friendships and has the opportunity to be productive and creative. The work of The Justice Project has caused the initiation of an investigation into the unethical and criminal practices of the shelter that is ongoing.

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Issue of Justice – Summer Reading List

Mary’s Pence recently sent out our Summer Reading List. Each summer we enjoy sending out this list because we know that you, our supporters, are intelligent and curious people who seek to know more about the world around them. In growing our understanding of the world we discover injustices, but we also discover innovative solutions to these injustices. Most importantly, we find hope and healing in community. This is what our Summer Reading List represents.

The books on this year’s list were placed in four categories: Black Lives Matter, Latino Voices, Dynamics of Change, and Food for the Soul and Body. Click here to see the full list.

Black Lives Matter:
The books in this section link to conversations around the Black Lives Matter movement by providing historical context and personal accounts. Understanding the narratives of Black women and men is critical to creating a world where all are valued and feel safe.
• Fire in the Ashes – Jonathan Kozol
• Warmth of Other Suns – Isabel Wilkerson
• Men We Reaped – Jesmyn Ward
• Brown Girl Dreaming – Jacqueline Woodson

Latino Voices:
The authors highlighted in this section share individual stories as well as knowledge about Latin American history and politics that is vital to understanding these stories. Each author not only pulls the readers’ heartstrings, but offers insight into how to navigate and overcome systemic injustice.

• La Verdad – Lucia Cerna and Mary Jo Ignoffo
• The Violence of Development: Resource Depletion, Environmental Crises and Human Rights Abuses in Central America – Martin Mowforth
• In the Time of the Butterflies – Julia Alvarez
• Amor and Exile: True Stories – Nicole Salgado and Nathaniel Hoffman

Dynamics of Change:
This section touches on a variety of big issues including climate change, poverty, and war. The importance of community and solidarity is again key, as these issues are all rooted in the same systemic dysfunction, and can only be addressed in their larger context as issues of justice.
• This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate – Naomi Klein
• Thank You For Your Service – David Finkel
• The Long Loneliness: The Autobiography of Legendary Catholic Social Activist Dorothy Day – Dorothy Day

Food for the Body and Soul:
We included this inspirational section as a reminder of Mary’s Pence roots in the values of Catholic Social Teaching and Feminism. Hope is found when the world is seen as a community and we work in true solidarity.
• The Vision of Catholic Social Thought: The Virtue of Solidarity and the Praxis of Human Rights – Meghan J. Clark
• In Her Kitchen – Gabriele Galimberti

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Meet Gabriela – New ESPERA staff!

In June, Gabriela Bandini joined the Mary’s Pence ESPERA staff. We warmly welcome Gabriela and are excited about what she brings to this program. She will be working closely with our current staff – Gilda Larios, founding staff of ESPERA, and Eva Martinez who partners with Gilda and who is the primary support for several groups in El Salvador and the groups in Honduras.Gabriela

We have done a lot with a small staff since ESPERA started just shy of 7 years ago. We knew there was economic need, and we knew women are better able to impact their community when they are organized and have a voice. We deliberately created a flexible program, one that is co-designed with the women on the ground. Initially, it was critical to build relationships, and get the lending pool money circulating in each group. ESPERA has grown – from 3 groups in 3 countries, to 9 groups in 6 countries. Over 900 women have used ESPERA loans, and there is over $120,000 in circulation. Gilda and Eva, our existing ESPERA staff, have put on many miles visiting groups. During this time they have supported the women as they got their money in circulation, nurtured small businesses and sometimes struggled with organizational and leadership issues. At this point in ESPERA’s growth it is clear that women’s businesses need increased business skills to really grow, and that some groups can use additional leadership and organization development. Adding Gabriela to our staff provides a real opportunity to heighten the impact of the program.

Gabriela comes to us with a degree in International Business by the University of Monterrey and an International Masters in Rural Development by the consortium of four European Universities under the Erasmus Mundus program. She currently lives in Mexico City, and grew up in Puebla, Mexico. She brings a passion for working with women for equality and inclusion, and promoting community and solidarity economies. She has a special place in her heart for working with rural and indigenous women. Hiring Gabriela is increasing staff reach, and enriching the skills we bring to this work.

Donor support, based on a real appreciation of the ESPERA program, is what made this possible. As our donations ticked upward over the last couple of years we were cautious about increasing our budget, until we knew the increase was sustainable. And it is! So, with a combination of reserves (just what they were meant for), grants and new donations, we knew we could make an ongoing commitment to supporting ESPERA in this way.

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What Mainstream Feminsm is Missing

Grace Garvey-Hall is the Development and Communications Liaison at Mary’s Pence. She started working with Mary’s Pence in March, but also worked as an intern in the Summer of 2014. She is a Minnesota native, but having had the opportunity to live and travel abroad, as well as live in a variety of communities in the United States, she is deeply invested in global feminism, and the well-being of all women.


Strong, independent woman.

That’s the phrase I hear tossed around a lot among my friends – to describe themselves as empowered or to describe a woman they admire. I too use this image as an example of the kind of woman I want to be.Equality-feminism
It’s a daily struggle, though, because I often feel weak. I need the help of others because there is still a lot I don’t know. And on top of that whole “needing other people” thing, I have a very clear goal in mind of becoming a wife and a mother some day. I love to cook, bake pies, and my next project is learning how to sew. All of this neediness and joy I just so happen to find in traditionally female activities felt like a crime against feminism, and against that strong, independent woman I still also want to be.

It doesn’t help that the ideas I hear associated with strength and independence seem to have become increasingly extreme: she doesn’t need a man and doesn’t need anyone else; she climbs the corporate ladder, trampling everyone else on the way to the top; she makes her own money, pays her own bills, and buys her own cars, but only the newest models. We can’t deny that these are the “feminist” images we are bombarded with in television, music, and movies.

Where does my pie-baking fit into all of that?feminism 1

What I’ve realized is that this all-powerful, independent woman that we have made the poster-woman for feminism is actually missing something. This mainstream example of feminism is a woman on her own. Though she might have a posse, followers, she doesn’t have a community. And really, doesn’t that take away her strength?

Let’s not forget that feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.” Feminism is not trying to make yourself the woman who’s on top, it’s about striving for equality for all.

Independence is a great thing for a woman to have. But we should not be afraid to be in community with others. I mean this in two ways: firstly I believe that there is incredible strength in vulnerability. It is important to create a network of people who will support us and whom we can support in turn. This is a necessary first step to the larger goal.feminism-womens-day-poster

Secondly, being in community with others as a feminist means looking at our sisters across the globe and doing the work to embrace them. Feminism values solidarity – that is community across boundaries. We throw around words like inclusivity or global feminism. What we mean is that community doesn’t end at our doorstep, or our neighborhood. If we are feminists, we are advocating for women’s rights – all women’s rights. And empowerment is not a solo act.

Grace Garvey-Hall


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Mary’s Pence at Intentional Eucharistic Communities Gathering

Margins were front and center at the fourth national conference of Intentional Eucharistic Communities: Living the Gospel, Collective Voices, which took place near the Mary’s Pence office in St. Paul, MN this past weekend.

Diann Neu at Intentional Eucharistic Communities gathering in St. Paul, MN

Diann Neu at Intentional Eucharistic Communities gathering in St. Paul, MN

Intentional Eucharistic Communities are small communities, rooted in the Catholic tradition, that gather to celebrate Eucharist on a regular basis. While some communities exist within parishes, others were created completely independently from the church structure. Each community has a slightly different model based on what feeds the people who are gathered together. These models include a variety of leaders including women-priests and lay people, as well as alternative liturgies, dialogue homilies in which many voices respond to the lessons and gospel texts, and lots of singing. Despite the diversity of models, each community shares a spirit of inclusivity, love, and justice, and a desire to share the holy meal with each other as a reminder of who and how they want to be for the world.
No wonder we met so many Mary’s Pence supporters there!

Jamie Manson speaking at the Intentional Eucharistic Communities gathering in St. Paul, MN

Jamie Manson speaking at the Intentional Eucharistic Communities gathering in St. Paul, MN

The Friday night Keynote speaker was Jamie Manson, author of Grace on the Margins, a column that appears in National Catholic Reporter. She spoke of her own painful experiences living on the margins of the Catholic Church and of society. But there was hope in her statement that that “God experiences full solidarity, in the radical sense, with those on the margins.” As I think of all of the women Mary’s Pence works with, who truly live on the margins of their societies I am buoyed to know that God is with them, that God isn’t high up or away but instead in the midst of us.
Going further, Manson exclaimed that “God’s people are hungry now and their voices are God’s voice crying out from the margins.” It is so powerful to think of the women who participate in ESPERA and who work for justice through the Mary’s Pence Grants programs and know that their voices and God’s voice are the same. When we work to amplify women’s voices in their communities, we work to amplify God’s voice, speaking out for justice.
The other speakers at the event were Roger Haight, S.J. and Miriam Therese Winter as well as a number of breakout speakers including Diann Neu, a former Mary’s Pence Board member. We also enjoyed fabulous music by Sarah Thomsen throughout the weekend.
To all of the wonderful supporters of Mary’s Pence, both new and old, that we met at the Intentional Eucharistic Communities gathering, we are so happy to have had this chance to speak with you and to be in community with you.

2015 IEC Gathering – Sarah Thomsen

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