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Your First Evangelist?

"Christianity offered solid advantages to women. It treated them as equals in the eyes of God. It told husbands to treat their wives with as much consideration as Christ showed to his 'bride,' the Church. And it gave them the protection of Jesus' unusually definite teaching on the sanctity of marriage. Women converts began the Christian penetration of the upper-classes and then brought their children up as Christians; sometimes they ended by converting their husbands."
A History of Christianity by Paul Johnson
Choir at Mass in South Sudan

A choir gets ready to perform at a Mass at St. Theresa Cathedral of Juba in South Sudan. Photo by Sara A. Fajardo/CRS

For many a child of Catholic upbringing, mom was the first evangelist.

As Paul Johnson notes, women have always played a vital role in the Church. Besides Mary, the mother of God, here's a sample of Church pioneers: Susanna, Joanna, Dorcas (aka Tabitha), Rhoda, Lydia, Euodia, Syntyche, Phoebe, Priscilla, Lois and Eunice.

Throughout his epistles, St. Paul praises various women by name for supporting his ministry.

Their roles are often seen as subordinate, their work undervalued and disparaged—sometimes by those who claim to champion them.

Yet, they are Christ's own. Knowing this, Catholic Relief Services strives to serve and honor the world's poorest and most vulnerable women.

As this story about early marriage in Kenya suggests, girls and young women are often treated as little more than chattel in some parts of the world. Through your Church, you are their champions.

War comes to Mali, and a mother, pregnant with her second child, flees with her family to the capital. It's a tenuous haven. Their lives will be difficult for a long time. But thanks to your support, they can survive in the city until it's safe to return home.

Women labor from dusk to dawn—on family farms, in small businesses, in clinics and in orphanages. They walk miles a day, heads laden with produce and water.

In many cases, the spirit of the living Gospel unfolds in refugee camps, in places hit by disaster, in the first and perhaps only classrooms some girls will ever know. Your care and concern is often the first contact women have with the Church's message of love.

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