52PWP ABP Blogging Chicago Dress for success guest blogger Thoughts

“The nation doesn’t simply need what we have. It needs what we are.” – Meet Flo 18 of 52 Phenomenal Women

The nation doesn’t simply need what we have. It needs what we are.

St. Teresia Benedicta (Edith Stein)  

Meet Flo (@flomerkldeutsch):

In her own words

©Amy Boyle Photography

“I never thought there was a place of leadership for me in the Catholic Church. Growing up in the ‘70s, I couldn’t be an Altar Server because of my gender, but I remember our young priest giving me a tour of the sacristy. It was like peeking through a slightly ajar door to glimpse mystery, but only for a moment, then the door closed. Since I didn’t want to be a religious sister, I figured I was limited to Mass attendee and Sunday School teacher. I embraced these roles, but they ignited more of a candle than the bonfire that I suspected was in me.  Everything changed during my first Holy Week at Saint Clement Parish in Chicago when I was 26 and had just moved from Boston. Seeing women serving and coordinating the Mass, and another dancing around the altar bearing incense, it left me thunderstruck. Here was the powerful feminist image that I never thought possible in the Church I loved.

©Amy Boyle Photography

Unemployment gifted me with time to respond to opportunities at the church, including coordinating young adult retreats, welcome dinners, liturgies, bringing communion to the sick, and more. It took a dear priest friend to finally say, “Maybe we should bring you on staff since you’re already here all the time!”

©Amy Boyle Photography

As a staff member, I cherished the chance to be a knowledgeable woman at the front door and in the sanctuary through which young people, especially girls, could connect and envision new possibilities. The job led to graduate school, and my current role in campus ministry, where I work to equip the spiritual tool boxes of emerging adults. In theory, the Church knows that it can’t fulfill its mission without women’s voices, gifts, and leadership, but it has a ways to go in cultivating an environment in which all people can flourish. I am grateful that I can pass on to others what was modeled for me.”

*** Please follow along on instagram as well and learn more about Flo. This year for my birthday, I am embarking on a weekly photo essay project highlighting 52 Phenomenal Women. This is week 18 of 52. Participants in this project will be supporting the efforts of Dress for Success Worldwide – Central. We are all stronger together and it is my sincere hope that we will be inspired by each other’s stories. Now is the time to celebrate as well as encourage one another. Tell your story!***

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