- Wednesday, 28 July 2010 19:36
ENDOW (Educating on the Nature & Dignity of Women) is a Catholic educational program bringing women together to discover what it means to be a woman, made in God’s image and likeness holding a God-given dignity known in being a person. ENDOW is a new feminism promoting the beauty of being a woman.
ENDOW is work was begun in the Archdiocese of Denver and because of its importance the archbishop gave ENDOW a moral standing in the Church by making it a private juridic person. ENDOW exists in 87 dioceses in the USA and a few in Canada. Before ENDOW begins its work in a particular (arch)diocese it asks the permission of the diocesan bishop for his approval and blessing.
The Religious Sisters of Mercy (Alma) helped to write the formation materials aimed at cultivating a true sense of what it means to be a woman through faith, friendship and formation. ENDOW is oriented to the various ages of women in the groups. Age differential helps women work with each other based on experience and wisdom.
What is a woman’s human dignity? Why is it important to have an appreciation for a woman’s human dignity? First, we have to understand and accept that our value comes from God the Father; that the God created us specifically. Second, we need to have understanding that we live in a relationship of love of/with God, self and the other. Love is sacrificial (sometimes we have to give up our plans for the sake of another) and we find ourselves in giving ourselves to another. Only in self-giving love do know who we are as persons. Therefore, our personhood is not determined by the culture at large. John Paul taught us that all people, particularly women as we are speaking of here, can humanize the context of our lives (at work, home, among friends), it is a special gift of being woman. People like John Paul and Benedict, and others, have said that the whole world change for the better if you can change woman’s heart, form and heal the hurt of women. The culture has radically hurt women over the centuries that need for healing. Learning and living the truth of our personhood in light of what God intends for us to be will have implications for our lives in the areas of relationships, sex, work, having a healthy psychology, physicality, etc.
This is not a self-help program. It is an educational program in contact with the Lord. God determines who we are as persons, made in His image and likeness. Courses proposed by ENDOW are offered for adults and youth; it’s supposed to be parish based but some study circles may happen at home; groups of 8-12 are generally the norm. Study guides and leader training guides are available. The idea is to function more-or-less like a “book club” but the work done on a text is meant to dig deeply into faith formation of/for women among friends.
I would hope parishes and Catholic chaplaincies at high schools and universities would adopt the ENDOW methodology.