I can’t remember how or when I first heard about Mary’s Pence, but I know I fell in love with it immediately. I loved the idea of an organization designed specifically to serve the needs of women, particularly impoverished women. I also loved the play on the name, Peter’s Pence. I felt an immediate draw to contribute in a way, dare I admit, Peter’s Pence did not draw me. The more I learned about the work of Mary’s Pence both domestically and across borders, the more impressed I was. I think the current work through the Espera Fund is brilliant, perhaps largely influenced by my own life-changing travels to Latin America where the women were my greatest inspiration.
While I can’t remember when I first learned of Mary’s Pence, it had to be relatively early in its formation. I say that because I know it was in the late 90s that Pax Christi Metro New York (PCMNY) was a grateful recipient of a Mary’s Pence grant. By that time, I was already a regular supporter. My familiarity with Mary’s Pence was the reason I was able to recommend applying for the grant. I was Chairperson of the PCMNY Council at the time.
We received the grant to bring our conflict resolution program to women’s shelters that would not otherwise have able to pay for it. The grant enabled us to bring our workshop to 10 shelters. It was a wonderful experience for me to conduct many of those workshops for women whose lives have been so challenged, but who bear such strength and wisdom. Hopefully, the skills our workshop taught were equally valuable for the women, themselves.
A few years after receiving the grant, I was given the opportunity to write a reflection for Mary’s Pence. At that time, Mary’s Pence published reflections by many of its companeras for prayer and study. I was honored to write about my journey to becoming the Director of PCMNY, which came about through an almost mystical sense of calling. David Haas’ song, “You Are Mine,” guided my discernment and the reflection that I composed. Today I continue to be Director of metropolitan New York’s regional chapter of the Catholic peace movement, and I continue to support Mary’s Pence.
The two movements speak to me of what it means to be Christian–to work for peace and social justice as interconnected entities. Both promote life by raising up the dignity of the human person, especially women who can be so badly suppressed at the same time that they can be the true back-bone of their families and communities.
Mary’s Pence is a great source of uplifting stories, hope, and encouragement. Its resources whether for prayer, events like the Lenten Soup Supper, or actions to counter poverty and sexism are excellent in quality and accessibility. I wish Mary’s Pence a very long future blessed with all that is needed to continue to make the world a better place for women and all they affect.