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Celebrating the women in our lives and in our Church

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Michael
Reardon

It seems that everyone is looking for a hero these days. Four of the five highest grossing films of 2018 were superhero movies, and so far in 2019, "Captain Marvel" is on track to beat records. "Captain Marvel" has captured my attention because Captain Marvel is a woman. She is not in a supporting role -- she is the lead. The movie is an excellent reminder that, in so many places in our world, women are in the lead.

For centuries, women have gotten things done and received little to no recognition or appreciation for it until recently. I often tell people that I married Wonder Woman (maybe now I'll say I married Captain Marvel). My wife is a real-life super hero. In one six-month period, she finished nursing school, coordinated a move, cared for two kids at home, worked part-time, passed her state nursing exams, and then applied, interviewed and began work at a Boston hospital. She thinks nothing of any of it. It is just what she does; she gets things done.

As a husband and father to a daughter, I believe in the importance of Women's History Month and celebrating the incredible accomplishments of the women in my life and the world. It is an excellent time to reflect, too, on the critical role women have played and continue to play in our Church.

The Blessed Mother opened her mind, heart and body to the love of God. In doing so, she accepted the real pain and suffering of a mother who loses a child. Her acts of faith and humility were heroic and firmly established the importance of women in our Church.

Here in Boston, the Ursuline Sisters established the first Catholic School in 1827, amidst an anti-Catholic backdrop that culminated in the Ursuline Convent Riots of 1834, where the school and convent were burnt to the ground. These brave women did not leave in defeat and their legacy continues today at Ursuline Academy in Dedham. Ursuline Academy educates young women to know that they are loved by God and that they have been blessed with talents to be cultivated and shared with the world. This is an amazing legacy, but one that many do not know.

In our work each day at the Catholic Schools Foundation, the majority of the scholarship recipients are from families with only a mother. We watch as these women struggle to give their children a better life and an opportunity to succeed through a Catholic education. I am amazed by all that these women take on to make a Catholic education possible for their children. It is truly humbling.

During this Women's History Month, let's celebrate the stories of strong women in our lives and in our Church. Let's remember the women who keep our Church working each day as teachers, principals, directors of faith formation, business managers, lectors and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist. One of my children asked at Church recently, "why is the priest the only man on the altar?" This was a subtle observation, but one that underscores the vital and ubiquitous role of women in our Church.

This March, let's remember that we do not need to pay $10.50 for at ticket to "Captain Marvel" to see a female hero. Look around you each day, at home, at work, and at church. Look to our Blessed Mother and celebrate the women around us, not just in March, but every day.

Michael B. Reardon is executive director of the Catholic Schools Foundation, www.CSFBoston.org.

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