Last week, I opened the mailbox to find my first advance copy of Catholic Women Preach: Raising Voices, Renewing the Year – Cycle B (Orbis Books, 2023). I rushed back to the house with excitement to open the package. And when I finally removed the volume from its cardboard packaging and held it in my hand, a smile graced by face as I was filled with a deep sense of gratitude and admiration for everyone who played a part in making the book a reality.
I gave thanks for Laura James, whose beautiful artwork Mary – Magnificat brings the cover to life in full and stunning color. The piece depicts Mary proclaiming her prophetic Magnificat hymn (Lk 1: 46-55) about the inbreaking Reign of God in a diverse, modern, urban setting.
And reflecting on Mary’s inspired words, I thanked God for each of the 66 contributors to this volume. With preaching originally delivered for the liturgical Year B in 2017-2018 and 2020-2021, these women truly served as modern-day “Marys” raising up all the justice issues in our time: immigration, the environment, racial justice, the Covid-19 pandemic, economic justice, LGBTQ+ inclusion, gender equality...Their own inspired words proclaim God’s goodness and justice and call us to action.
I gave thanks for Cecilia González-Andrieu, Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, whose brilliant mind and beautiful way with words brought everything from the cover art and texts to our history and current realities, and everyone from contributor to reader – indeed the whole communion of saints, past and present - together in her foreword:
Art is a celebration of the act of transformation. How what alone may have its limitations—one color, one shape, one brushstroke, one note, one instrument, one voice—when brought together with others becomes a new and miraculous creation. This book is just such a work of art. Insights, experiences and stories from Catholic women all over the globe, are woven together here for the first time. From India, to California, Kenya to Brazil, Belgium to the Philippines, and so many other places that we might run out of pins on a map, we have come. We have been called by a common love of our Sacred Scriptures and by the communities with and for whom we do our work. In each of our street corners we have tried to make community with those earliest Christians, our beloved ancestors, as they reach through time to us. As women, we often come tired, discouraged, overworked, underpaid and forced to the margins. But we come at a new time, a time that is no longer about waiting, but about doing.
I gave thanks for Betty Anne Donnelly, with whom I have the joy of working every day to keep Catholic Women Preach going and with whom I’m honored to be listed as co-editor. I gave thanks Kelly Sankowski, who communicated with each of the contributors, collecting their updated biographies and incorporating revisions to their texts. Now in in the final days of pregnancy herself, Kelly served as a midwife, carefully attending to this book as it came into life. And for Robert Ellsberg and the entire team at Orbis Books, whose commitment for justice and liberating, life-giving theology shines through in every title they publish.
And I give thanks for all of you – the FutureChurch and Catholic Women Preach supporters – whose contributions, words of encouragement, prayers, and activism make work this possible. You are important partners in this work. And I’m proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with you as we work together to bring our Church to life with the gifts, talents, calls, and potential of each and every member.
We’ll soon to be scheduling a virtual launch event for this latest volume, so please keep your eyes open for that. I look forward to celebrating with you!
Catholic Women Preach: Raising Voices, Renewing the Church – Cycle B is now available through Orbis Books.