Delegates to the upcoming NACPA convocation April 22-24 in Niagara Falls will hear three excellent keynote speakers including Kerry Robinson, one of the foremost experts on Women and the Catholic Church today.
To introduce Kerry, we asked her to respond to five questions, including a brief video response.
NACPA: A recent groundbreaking survey by America magazine asked women about their lives in the Catholic Church. What did you find most compelling about their responses?
KR: The editors of America Media and staff of CARA (the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate) did us a tremendous service by undertaking the most comprehensive survey of U.S Catholic women ever conducted, and publishing the findings in the January 22 issue entirely dedicated to women in the Church. The Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities had the privilege of philanthropically supporting the survey and editorial prioritization of women which allowed me to pay close attention and anticipate the findings. Two things struck me: how much in common Catholic women have, even in a polarized world and Church, and how absolutely essential it is to hear, honor, and pay heed to women’s voices. What I found especially notable was how many Catholic women surveyed care deeply for the environment and the poor and expressed their intention to vote in 2018 elections. What everyone who cares deeply about the health and vitality of the Church should be very concerned about, however, is how few younger Catholic women surveyed actively participate in the sacramental life of the Church. Further worrisome is that they do not see a vision of the Church that intentionally invites and includes them, neither at the national nor parish level. We must address and change this immediately.
NACPA: What prompted you to establish the Leadership Roundtable and what is its mission?
KR: Catholics in the U.S. have risen to levels of affluence and influence and count among the highest levels of leadership in every sector and industry. In the aftermath of the sexual abuse crisis, when the Church we love was at its most broken, we wanted to harness the collective managerial expertise and financial acumen to strengthen the Church. Our mission is to promote best practices and accountability in the management, finances, communications and human resources development of the Catholic Church including greater incorporation of the expertise of laity. It is comprised of ordained, religious and lay leaders with uncommon problem-solving capability, and entrepreneurial rigor, all of whom care deeply about the health and vitality of the Church.
On a personal note, the explicit religious mission of the Church has formed the person I am. That it is the largest global humanitarian network in the world renders me forever committed to its health and vitality.
NACPA: As a successful business woman and Church leader, what is your view of the #MeToo movement?
KR: I am a feminist because I am Catholic and I am Catholic because I am a feminist. It is important to define your terms. A feminist is one who believes in the equality of women and men. Our faith attests that women and men are created in the image and likeness of God. The dignity of every human person is to be upheld. The exploitation, harassment, abuse and assault of women (and men) cannot be tolerated in the workplace or anywhere. A culture of ethics, accountability, transparency and decency is necessary along with standards of excellence.
NACPA: Who has influenced you the most in your faith journey?
KR: I owe a lifelong debt of gratitude to my professor, advisor and spiritual director, Margaret Farley, a Religious Sister of Mercy. She told me many years ago to remember what it is I love most about the Catholic Church and membership in it. She advised me to name those aspects of my faith I most value. To claim them. She knew of the depth of my vocational commitment to serving the Church at the local, national and global level and she also knew that at times the Church would break my heart. She knew if I was daily grateful for the very best of our faith, it would provide ballast for the more dispiriting days. My closest friend is a Catholic priest, Fr Bob Beloin, the Catholic Chaplain at Yale with whom I worked for many years to expand Catholic life on Yale’s campus. He, too, has been a source of daily influence and inspiration. I am and have been enormously blessed by these two extraordinary people of faith and mercy.
NACPA: Do you view a career in Human Resources as a spiritual call to service?