Traveling with From the Pews in the Back

By Kate Dugan

I’ve just returned home to Evanston from a long weekend in Minnesota. I had the privilege of being on a very mini-book tour of two Benedictine schools in the land of 10,000 lakes–my alma mater, the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph on Thursday, and the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth. When I left town on Thursday, I was excited to travel with a few of the authors in the book, visit my old stomping grounds, and talk about the stories of this collection. But I just had no idea how much this weekend would really jog my thinking about young women’s Catholic identity.

At both events, I gave an introduction to the project, things learned, and the like. And then I turned the mic over to a couple Minnesota-based authors. I was struck by how different it was to hear these women’s voices reading, proclaiming their pieces. Jen and I have read these pieces ten, twelve, maybe more, times. I wasn’t surprised by the words.

I was surprised by what a different experience it was to hear these women share their stories with multi-generational groups of people.

Back when Jen & I first started this project, she shared with me that she sometimes though about our work to put this book together has having spiritual, church, components for her. Occasionally over the last three years, I have wondered what exactly she meant by that. How could working on this project have parallels to religious experiences?

At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, I think I had a taste of that this weekend. I sat in my chair and listened to very familiar words wash over me. I listened to these women share personal pieces of themselves, in awe of their courage and inspired by their stories. And it felt a little bit like Mass.

Kate Dugan is one of the co-editors of From the Pews in the Back: Young Women and Catholicism. She is in her first year of doctoral studies at Northwestern University.

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