New Yorkers Attend Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum


The 2019 GIVEN Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum, held June 12-16 at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., was designed to guide young adult Catholic women “with a heart for mission and an aptitude for leadership.”

The forum seeks to help women “identify particular gifts and find practical pathways to put them in the service of the Gospel.” About 120 women, ages 21 to 30, participated in the forum, including several from the Archdiocese of New York. About 25 laywomen also served as mentors.

Those attending from the archdiocese included Cynthia Psencik, director of the Office of Youth Ministry; Mary Elise Zellmer, assistant director of the Office of Young Adult Outreach; and Kaitlyn Colgan, office administrator with Young Adult Outreach. Ms. Psencik served as a mentor, and Ms. Zellmer and Ms. Colgan were participants.

“As a mentor, it’s a gift for me to see so many young women already doing such great work in their churches and communities,” said Ms. Psencik in an email to Catholic New York from Washington, D.C.

“It continues to give me hope and bring me joy to be surrounded by them, and to know our Church has their gifts.”

Ms. Psencik noted the joy of seeing many communities of women religious working on behalf of the forum. “The forum is very timely as one of the conclusions highlighted in the final document of (last October’s) Synod for Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment was the need for mentors,” she said.

Ms. Zellmer, in her own email to CNY, wrote, “This has been a truly special week building up young women in love with their faith. We are all united in sharing the same faith, which has been a blessing in our lives. And we in turn want to be a blessing for the Church and to the world!”

Organizers from the GIVEN Institute, which sponsors the forum, said about 50 religious sisters accompanied the young women as they discussed the integration of faith, interpersonal relationships, professional aspirations and vocational responsibilities. Through leadership training, faith formation and mentoring, the GIVEN Institute forms women for mission and for life.

“The GIVEN Forum is a unique event borne from the hearts of consecrated women religious and dedicated Catholic lay women seeking to invest in and call forth the next generation of women leaders for the Church and the world,” said Sister Mary Elizabeth Wusinich, S.V., the vicar general of the Sisters of Life and co-chair of the GIVEN Institute’s board of directors, in a statement.

The forum’s keynote speakers included Sister Mary Gabriel, S.V.; Sister Madeline Todd, O.P., assistant professor of theology at Aquinas College in Nashville; Gloria Purvis, a host of EWTN’s “Morning Glory” radio show; and Helen Alvaré, a professor at George Mason University School of Law.

Panel speakers included Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life; Joan Rosenhauer, executive director of the Jesuit Refuge Service/USA; Mary Rice Hasson, the Kate O’Beirne Fellow in Catholic Studies of the Ethics and Public Policy Center; and Kathryn Jean Lopez, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

Each GIVEN participant proposed and developed an action plan she will implement within a year. The action plan is each woman’s unique initiative to use her God-given gifts in the Church and in the world.

The forum days were structured around the three-fold theme of helping the young women “receive the gifts they are; realize the gifts they’ve been given; and respond with the gift that only they can give.” Each day featured keynote speakers, panel discussions, leadership training, prayer workshops, mentoring, and time for prayer and the sacraments.


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