Over the last 11 years, more than 25,000 women and girls have participated in the Catholic women’s study program Endow. Aspiring to be accessible to even more women, the organization just cut its course fees and will soon translate its materials into Spanish.
As of Sept. 1 the fee for any of Endow’s 13 women’s courses is $19.95, down from $80. And a $50,000 grant from the Dan Murphy Foundation will enable Endow to offer its materials in Spanish starting next year.
“Our goal,” said co-founder and president Terry Polakovic, “is to reach women.”
The lower cost, which was launched in July for just one course, the organization’s newest, “Setting the World Ablaze: St. Catherine of Siena,” resulted in 100 classes formed to study the saint in just a month. Another 80 classes formed for other topics over the same timeframe.
“What’s really rewarding for us is women who haven’t been involved (with Endow) for say two years are back because of the lower price and St. Catherine,” Polakovic said.
Endow, an acronym for Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women, promotes the new feminism of St. John Paul II through study groups to connect women and girls in faith and friendship while exploring Catholic teachings. Groups typically consist of eight to 12 adults or 10 to 30 youth who meet at parishes, schools or in members’ homes.
Polakovic has been involved with every one of the study guides, which range from St. John Paul II’s “Letter to Women” to the latest on the 14th-century St. Catherine, one of just four female doctors of the Church.
Endow’s study guide takes its title from the saint’s declaration: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
“There are few things more uplifting to the soul than someone who captivates us, precedes us in faith and beckons us to follow,” Polakovic said. “In St. Catherine of Siena we have such a woman, who in her mere 33 years on earth ascended to the heights of holiness and left a legacy that is a treasure of the Church.”
From northern Italy, St. Catherine was a mystic, a third order Dominican and despite no formal education, had a brilliant theological mind. She persuaded the pope to go back to Rome from Avignon in 1377, and when she died was working to heal the Great Western Schism. Her major work, “The Dialogue,” describes her mystical conversations with Christ and is considered a spiritual classic. Her body was found incorrupt in 1430.
“St. Catherine lived with a burning passion for Christ and she was able to find a unique balance between the active and the contemplative dimensions of the spiritual life,” Polakovic said. “She devoted herself to prayer, self-denial and to alleviating suffering.”
A peacemaker and mediator, she counseled the pope, monarchs and other persons of note.
“We can trust that she can speak to us also,” Polakovic said. “We will find that she has the solutions to many of our questions.”
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