The Power of A Woman

By Cynthia Alwizer

This inspiring story was shared with me by Deborah Rose-Milavec of Catherine of Siena Virtual College.

Catherine of Siena (1348-1380) was a lay woman, a member of the third order of Dominicans and a doctor of the Church (1970). Remembering Catherine’s legacy is dangerous business for it means leaving behind easy, convenient pieties and risking the pain that inevitably accompanies the work for justice and peace.

Catherine was a woman of service and prayer. She upheld the dignity of plague victims in her city caring for them while sick and burying those who had succumbed to the illness. With equal compassion she accompanied death row prisoners to their executions. She spoke her truth to all: from those in prison to those on papal thrones. Catherine was neither meek nor mild.

We honor Catherine of Siena by honoring the many “Catherines” of our day. These Catherines fight for fair wages, clean water, education for all, abolition of the death penalty, an end to violence against women, justice for people of all sexual orientations and women’s leadership at all levels in the Church and in society. Like Catherine of Siena, they carry on the “dangerous” legacy of speaking out against injustice, greed and indifference while acting with courage in the face of entrenched ignorance and evil. We know their names. They are Wangari Maathai, Ela Bhatt, Ivonne Gebara, Dorothy Day, Jeannine Gramick, Chung Hyun Kyung, Helen Prajean and countless other sisters, aunts, grandmothers, mothers and daughters. They speak hundreds of languages and serve hundreds of thousands of poor and marginalized peoples.

In gratitude for the leadership of Catherine of Siena and all the Catherines in our world, we offer this beautiful prayer by Lynne Hybels entitled Dangerous Women Creed. May it inspire us all to live out our faith courageously as healers, peacemakers and leaders in our world.

Dear God, please make us dangerous women.
May we be women who acknowledge our power to change, and grow, and be radically alive for God.
May we be healers of wounds and righters of wrongs.
May we weep with those who weep and speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.
May we cherish children, embrace the elderly, and empower the poor.
May we pray deeply and teach wisely.
May we be strong and gentle leaders.
May we sing songs of joy and talk down fear.
May we never hesitate to let passion push us, conviction compel us, and righteous anger energize us.
May we strike fear into all that is unjust and evil in the world.
May we dismantle abusive systems and silence lies with truth.
May we shine like stars in a darkened generation.
May we overflow with goodness in the name of God and by the power of Jesus.
And in that name and by that power, may we change the world.
Dear God, please make us dangerous women.

Warmest regards,

Wanjiku Kironyo


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