For the month of March, the Holy Father’s general intention is that the whole world may recognize the contribution of women to the development of society. The liturgical calendar for this month celebrates the courage and fidelity of women. In the first week, the Church celebrates the feast of the martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity and on March 26, the Solemnity of the Annunciation. During this month, our minds turn toward the great gift of what Blessed John Paul II in his letter Mulieris Dignitatem calls the feminine genius and its positive impact on the life of the Church and society.
In Mary, we have the model of what faith should be. Like us Mary was a human being who had to struggle and accept God’s word and to grasp the mysterious ways in which God works. She did so with such consummate fidelity that she is forever the example of what we mean by faith—true profound faith. Mary said, in effect, “Although I do not always understand the unfolding of God’s plan and God’s providential order, nonetheless, if God calls, I accept. If God challenges, I respond.”
We are blessed in our archdiocese that everywhere we look, we see the stamp of women who have responded faithfully to God’s call. First and foremost, in our mothers who nurture the faith of our children. The history of our archdiocese is marked by the many communities of religious women who have established a rich network of Catholic education and welcomed lay women to partner with them in continuing to serve our schools. We entrust our educational endeavors to the intercession of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, first American-born saint and Foundress of the Sisters of Charity and the first free Catholic school whose roots we share with the Archdiocese of Baltimore and her home in Emmitsburg.
As a Church we can take great pride in the fact that hospitals established by religious women remain the largest private provider of healthcare in the country. They continue to be staffed by religious and lay women who faithfully bring the healing love of Jesus to their professional work.
I feel privileged to have initiated the process of canonization of Servant of God, Mary Virginia Merrick, a woman who lived and worked in this archdiocese, who did not let a disability keep her from answering God’s call to serve the most needy of our city through the Christ Child Society. She is a model for women across so many professions who hear and respond to the cry of the poor and most vulnerable.
In joining my prayer to Our Holy Father’s, I pray in thanksgiving for women who have loved and labored in the name of the Risen Christ. In the face of a culture that is increasingly deaf to the Good News of the Gospel message, I pray for you that in your homes and in all fields of work in which your labor, you seek the intercession of Mary, the first and most perfect disciple, in courageously giving witness to how rich your life is for your relationship with Our Lord.
I look forward to gathering with the women of the Archdiocese at our first diocesan conference on March 24 at St. Mark in Hyattsville.