The Women’s Ordination Conference and the Durkin-Dierks Family are thrilled to announce the awardees of the first Lucile Murry Durkin Scholarship for Women Discerning Priestly Ordination: Lisa Cathelyn, Sarah Holst and Elaina Jo Polovick. The passionate voice and ministries of these women is a testament to the valor and integrity of Catholic women everywhere, and the lengths that one will go to do the work to which she is called. Please join us in celebrating their ministries and stories on this Holy path.
Lisa Cathelyn is a Master of Divinity student at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California. As a young, Catholic feminist exploring a call to professional ministry within the Church, perhaps in an ordained capacity as a deacon or a priest, she seeks to foster spaces of healing, inquiry, and joy. God’s fierce and relentless Love grounds her, no matter where this call takes her: India, Milwaukee, El Salvador, the U.S.-Mexico border, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Guatemala, a women’s federal prison, and Vietnam.
Lisa learned about the women’s ordination movement and ongoing work for equality in the Catholic Church while a student at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The school’s Women’s and Gender Studies program sponsored a screening of the documentary Pink Smoke Over the Vatican in 2012; and one of the woman priests featured in the documentary, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, was present for a Q-and-A session. Ever since then, the question of women’s ordination has floated around her head and heart. Marquette introduced Lisa to the Jesuits, Ignatian spirituality, and a framework to grapple with tough questions of suffering and accompanying people who have been pushed to the margins. She graduated in May 2013 with a degree in Spanish and minors in Women’s and Gender Studies and Theology.
Before graduate school, Lisa was a bilingual community health worker at a non-profit in the Twin Cities and a member of St. Joan of Arc in Minneapolis. Her year as a St. Joseph Worker, a volunteer program with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJs), encouraged a feminist spin to her Catholic imagination. Her prayer has increasingly been focused on the Holy Spirit’s invitation to living out the universal baptismal call to be priest, prophet, and king.
Lisa was born and raised in Geneseo, a small town in western Illinois, and is the youngest of three and daughter to Karen and the late Vern Cathelyn. She offers so much gratitude to her parents, who raised her in the faith, who never said she could not do something because she was a girl, and who model the fundamental Gospel values of kindness and Love.
Lisa imagines a dynamic, inclusive Church comprised of people of all races, sexual orientations, gender expressions, political affiliations, and socioeconomic statuses. She hopes for a future where Church is a generative community, unafraid to be a bold, public witness for the common good and can honestly deal with grief and life after loss, and embodiment of the unconditional love of Jesus. Beyond fiscal support while in graduate school, the Lucile Murray Durkin Scholarship emboldens her to take concrete steps to discern a call to ordained ministry as a deacon or priest. Lisa is so grateful to Women’s Ordination Conference and the Durkin-Dierks family!
Sarah Holst is delighted to be a recipient of the Lucile Murray Durkin Scholarship for Women Discerning Priestly Ordination. The support of the Women’s Ordination Conference and the Durkin-Dierks family is the kind of boost and encouragement without which the winding path of discerning and practicing new models of the priesthood would be more challenging, lonelier and less inspired. The support of this community lifting up the priestly service of women and folks of diverse genders is moving and empowering. Sarah is deeply grateful for this bold and courageous example of the Body of Christ.
Growing up in Grant, Nebraska, amid the part of rural America in the Lincoln Diocese where girls are not allowed to be altar servers, Sarah first became aware of a call from God. Sarah’s experience of Catholicism was shaped by the active faith of her parents who focused on service, asking questions, and empowering their daughters to be strong, bold, and brave. It was from a foundation of experiencing God both in the natural world and in the Eucharist that Sarah’s deep discipleship to the prophetic vision of the Kingdom of God was molded.
Triple majoring in Fine Art (Painting), English and Theology at St. Ambrose University led Sarah to the Catholic Worker Movement and the Campus Anti-War Network. She followed a passion for social justice to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, serving two years and focusing on the values of simplicity, social and environmental justice, community, and spirituality. Sarah’s first year with JVCNW was served on the Crow Indian Reservation. Much of Sarah’s commitment to environmental justice and indigenous sovereignty work comes from being adopted into the Crow Clan System and continued discernment of what it means to be living into that honor and story.
Sarah has been fortunate to have lived in and been mentored by many amazing communities who are experimenting with what it means to be a powerful force of counter-cultural, prophetic love. Sisters of the Road Café, The Abundant Table Farm Project, Catholic Church of the Beatitudes, Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries, Wilderness Way Community, and Spiritus Christi Church have all challenged and shaped Sarah along her journey to the priesthood.
Sarah started her seminary education at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in 2015. She is working on a Masters in Divinity with concentrations of Theology and the Arts and Social Transformation. While going to school, Sarah has intentionally stayed involved in her community, doing racial justice organizing work as a core team member of SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) Northland, and working as the Intern Coordinator for EcoFaith Recovery: a network of faith-based leaders building a movement for climate justice. In between all of this, Sarah works as a freelance artist, doing painting and illustrative work on commission.
Sarah is passionate about living into this call in a humble, contextual way that acknowledges her identity as a settler, intentionally seeks learning from those who came before her, and powerfully claims how the spirit is moving within herself.
Elaina Jo Polovick is a graduate at the Jesuit School of Theology, where her call to ordained ministry has led her to pursue a Masters of Divinity degree. She is originally from South Bend, IN, and she graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2012 with Bachelor of Arts in religious studies. After college Elaina Jo spent two years in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest serving in Ashland, Montana working with the children of the Northern Cheyenne and Crow tribes. She also spent a year serving as a Campus Ministry Associate at St. Mary Catholic Student Parish for the University of Michigan.
Elaina Jo is currently in her third and final year of the M.Div program. In her time at JST she has worked as the Liturgy Coordinator, and has preached and presided in the school’s Gesu Chapel. Throughout her academic career Elaina Jo has focused on issues of women’s leadership in the Church. This has included writing several research papers around the issue of women’s ordination, the diaconate, and women in scripture. She spent the summer of 2016 in Vietnam teaching English for a group of religious sisters who are seeking to further their education and leadership in the Church. The past year and a half she has served as the co-coordinator and facilitator of a small community named In Memory of Her that supports Women’s Ordination that meets monthly during the school year. She has also written a Holy Week liturgy for the group in memory of the woman who wiped the feet of Jesus.
She is working at the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center, a ministry of St. Agnes Parish in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. Elaina Jo began her work at the Ignatian Spiritual Life as part of the M.Div program by choosing it as the site for her field placement. Her work at the Ignatian Spiritual Life Center has included preaching, presiding, and developing prayer services and liturgies for various events at the center. She also developed and facilitated an Advent Bible study on the women of Matthew’s genealogy focusing on the ways we can read scripture on behalf of women. In February of 2017 she presided for the live-streamed prayer service, “Invoking the Spirit, Claiming the Call: International Call to Prayer for the Study Commission on the Women’s Diaconate” organized by Ignatian Spiritual Life Center.
Elaina Jo hopes to discern her own vocation to ordained ministry, and to continue to work for Women’s Ordination.