Loretto Volunteers Emily Cohen and Kelly Stewart reflect on their experiences at the Call to Action Conference in Milwaukee, WI earlier this month.
Kelly and Emily at the Lincoln Memorial
Kelly Stewart, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, graduated from Middlebury College in May with a B.A. in Psychology and a double minor in Religion and Russian Literature & Culture. Kelly believes she became a feminist on the day her counselors at John Carroll Summer Day Camp told her and the rest of the eight-year-old girl campers that, while the boys would spend the afternoon playing sports outside, the girls would remain indoors to braid hair, at which point Kelly burst forth with, “That’s ridiculous!” and had to spend the afternoon silently in the cafeteria with the other delinquents. These early signs of deviancy foreshadowed her later interest in women’s issues, which developed into a broader interest in justice issues related to gender and sexuality. New Ways Ministry, where she has worked since the end of August, has been a great place to explore these issues from a faith perspective.
A recent graduate from Seattle University, Emily is enjoying the adventure of a new landscape and the opportunity to share her time with both the Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) and the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER). While at SU, Emily frequently found herself at the academic and personal confluence of religion and gender. She completed a double major in Theology & Religious Studies and Liberal Studies with a particular focus in feminist theology, gender studies, and Buddhism. Her involvement with justice and ministry work at SU makes the transition into Loretto life a natural and exciting one. Sharing time at WOC and WATER has been a good adventure thus far. It feels right for her to be surrounded by feminist values, courageous academics, and committed women working for justice.
Earlier this month, Kelly and Emily traveled to the Call to Action conference in Milwaukee with New Ways Ministry and WOC, respectively. Kelly attended the Catholic Organizations for Renewal meeting during the two days preceding the conference, where she sat behind a nametag which Emily had printed. Kelly and Emily staffed their respective booths in the exhibition hall, where they met no small number of eccentric conference-goers, friendly colleagues, and familiar members of numerous partner organizations.
The conference was also a great time for some Loretto connections! Kelly, a Southerner unfamiliar with Midwestern beer rivalries, had the poor taste to ask for a Budweiser at the Miller Lite Pub where she and fellow Loretto Volunteer Ellen Nieman reunited with a crew of Loretto sisters and co-members. Unfortunately, Emily was absent as she had WOC obligations that evening. Shane Claiborne, Asra Nomani, and Joan Chittister delivered engaging key note addresses which provided Emily and Kelly with a lot of conversation material, questions, and insights. CTA's 20/30 initiative provided opportunities for those in their 20s and 30s to gather for conversation and connection. A highlight for Emily was the dialogue following Shane Claiborne's address because it complicated some important topics raised around inclusion, simplicity, and the ways in which communities can choose to interpret and/or practice the gospel message of Jesus. A highlight for Kelly was the Mass concelebrated by a diverse group of five people, including a Roman Catholic WomanPriest, which offered a glimpse of what a more inclusive, less hierarchical Catholic Church could look like.
In Their Own Words
We invite you to get to know Loretto Volunteers and the program here. Volunteers introduce themselves and reflect on their experiences.