So many women have been role models and mentors in my life that I could write pages. But I only have a few words – and when I think about my work here at FAITH Catholic, two women come into focus as influences on my career and ministry.
The first is my fifth-grade teacher from St. Francis School in Ann Arbor. Miss Heffern embodied W.H. Auden’s quote, “A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.” From her, I learned the joy of playing with words, and shaping them into stories and poetry – to, I hope, inspire.
The second was the very first youth minister at St. Francis Parish, back in the days when Father Ray Rademacher was the forward-thinking pastor there. Sharon Emmerth came to Ann Arbor from West Virginia, by way of Fordham University. She was a revelation – a lay woman working in active ministry in the Church. I hadn’t even been aware that role was an option without a call to consecrated life, which I knew I didn’t have. Because of Sharon’s example, I went to graduate school to study theology. Because of Sharon, I ended up working as a director of religious education. Because of Miss Heffern, I never stopped writing.
Thanks to them – and the wonderful priest whose column is on page two, I found myself at FAITH in 2004 as the assistant editor of this magazine. When I interviewed for the job with our CEO, Patrick O’Brien, he promised me I’d touch more lives and hearts with stories than I’d ever been able to do as a DRE. Thanks to his leadership and his faith in me, I am honored to be the vice president of a company that publishes more than 50 magazines for Catholic dioceses and organizations. I hope I am making Miss Heffern and Sharon proud.
Elizabeth is the editorial director of FAITH magazine and the vice president of FAITH Catholic Publishing and Communications.