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New Catholic group aims to form next generation of women leaders

By Christine Rousselle (CNA/EWTN)
9/12/2018 (1 week ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

The GIVEN Institute hopes to shape a new generation of Catholic leaders through a program of faith formation, mentoring, and leadership for young women.

Highlights

Washington D.C.,  (CNA) - The institute was launched on Sept. 12, as it announced a program focused on engaging and supporting young women in the work of evangelization, vocational discernment, and professional advancement.

The GIVEN Institute was founded in response to what it says are bleak statistics on female involvement with the Church. According to a 2018 study published by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, only about 17 percent of young Catholic women attend Mass each week, while only about one-third of those women say they pray every day.

"At a time where millennial women are disaffiliating from the Church in increasing numbers, it would be really important for the Church to turn its attention to shoring up the faithfulness of the women who do want to serve the Church, so that they can carry on the legacy of faithful women who have gone before them," GIVEN executive director Elise Italiano told CNA.

The first iteration of the GIVEN project was a 2016 conference called the GIVEN Catholic Young Women†s Leadership Forum.

That event was sponsored by the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religions (CMSWR) and gathered together 300 young women from across the United States who met and discussed how best to ‽receive the gift they are, recognize the gifts they have been given, and respond with the gift that only they can give."

The new GIVEN Institute aims to continue that mission by confronting what it says are two major challenges facing young Catholic women today: disaffiliation from the faith and Church, and a lack of integration of their gifts in areas of Church ministry.

"GIVEN celebrates the Church's vision for women's dignity and flourishing," Italiano said, stressing that this will form the baseline from which the institute will develop its programming to form young leaders.

‽The question that GIVEN wants to tackle is: given that vision--for women's dignity and call--where can we move forward? Where can we expand on that?" 

The institute†s work will be based around two related programs.

The Catholic Young Women†s Leadership Forum will be GIVEN†s centerpiece event, held every two to three years. There participants will focus on different tracks, including vocational discernment, post-missionary work, and secular professional careers. The forum will feature keynote speakers, spiritual accompaniment, and networking opportunities, in addition to track-specific workshops and speakers.

Additionally, the institute will also launch the ‽Art of Accompaniment Mentoring Program" for alumnae of the Leadership Forum. This program will begin at the Leadership Forum, where attendees will be paired with a mentor from their specific track.

After the Leadership Forum, GIVEN will release digital webinars to assist with ongoing formation and to ‽extend the exploration of topics covered at the forum." The mentoring program aims to build a network of female leaders who will meet with forum attendees on a one-on-one basis and provide them with personalized accompaniment.

‽It†s always the right time to help young people pursue a path to holiness," said Italiano, ‽but it†s increasingly clear that the Church must better facilitate a more robust presence of skilled, faithful women in its ranks."

‽The Church is always strongest and most effective in its mission when men and women work together."

The GIVEN Institute†s events program will commence in 2019, with the first Leadership Forum expected to be held in June.

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