Anne Marie Warner is passionate about inspiring young women to embrace the gift that they are and the gifts that they’ve been given so that they can share the gift that only they can give with the Church and the world. That passion brought her to The GIVEN Institute, where she now helps form women for mission and for life through leadership training, faith formation and dedicated mentoring. We are excited to introduce you to this CPA whose work with the March for Life Education & Defense Fund and formation with the Sisters of Life prepared her well for her current role as Director of Operations for The GIVEN Institute.
Anne Marie, tell us about the stirrings of the Holy Spirit that led to the establishment of The GIVEN Institute.
The GIVEN Institute has its origin in the 2016 GIVEN Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum, organized by the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious. Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, Superior General of the Sisters of Life and an organizer of the event, said, “GIVEN was conceived in the hearts of women religious and remains a significant response on the part of the Church to encourage, inspire and mentor young women at a crucial moment in their lives. We want each of them to know they are loved, noticed and necessary.”
The 2016 GIVEN Forum brought together nearly 300 young adult women from every state in the country for a weeklong immersion in faith formation, leadership training and networking. The participants connected with many lay and religious female Catholic leaders and each attendee developed a post-forum action plan that she implemented in a community of her choosing. The GIVEN Institute was formed to continue the inaugural forum’s mission of activating the gifts of young adult women for the Catholic Church and the world by providing leadership training, faith formation and mentoring.
Why do women today need to hear and heed your beautifully empowering mission to help women “receive the gift that they are; realize the gifts they’ve been given; and respond with the gift that only they can give?”
When women discover their invaluable dignity and worth, they are empowered to make a gift of themselves to others. It is so important for us as women to receive the healing and liberating truth of our inherent value and beauty, which comes from our identity as beloved daughters of God. We also need to recognize our specific gifts, and the unique circumstances that have shaped us, to truly know who we are and what we were created to do. From the experience of our intrinsic goodness and the knowledge of our God-given gifts, we can then discern the mission and vocation we are called to and move forward confidently in God’s plan for our life.
Today, women often feel pressure to conform to standards that are set by the culture surrounding us. These standards teach women to measure themselves according to their academic success, job title, image, relationship status, etc. In my own life, I’ve had to learn how to discover and live out the truth of who I am as the person God created me to be, instead of striving to obtain the false promises that these external standards offer. I’ve also experienced the transforming power of relationships with formal and informal mentors who have helped me to see this truth and, by affirming my gifts, have empowered me to use them in responding to God’s call in my life.
What are the keys to proper discernment for young women who are trying to make important decisions, whether about a particular vocation, state of life, career or any other situation?
Discernment is a journey, one that is led by God. Paying attention to the desires that God has placed in our hearts, taking time for prayer and silence to listen for his voice and having conversations with trusted spiritual guides and mentors are all keys to discovering where God is leading us and how we are meant to respond. Authentic self-knowledge and an understanding of our strengths and weaknesses also contribute to important moments of decision-making. I’ve experienced that the Lord often speaks through a deep interior peace, even in the midst of external difficulties, that confirms his will and provides the strength needed to move forward in responding to his call.
At this moment in history, particularly in light of the scandals rocking the Catholic Church here in America, what are the most important gifts we women can offer the Church?
Women have many gifts to offer the Church, and we are each called to take our role within the Church seriously and live it out faithfully. The Church depends on the active participation of women within the many aspects of her life and mission. We need to bring our individual and distinctly feminine gifts to the areas of our involvement, whether that is in parish ministries, diocesan offices, family life, religious communities, etc. Women have a particular capacity to focus on the human person, and this gift can be intentionally developed and applied to the many roles and responsibilities that women hold, especially during this critical time in our Church. As Edith Stein said, “The world doesn’t need what women have, it needs what women are.”
How can one get involved with The GIVEN Institute?
Young adult women can apply to attend a GIVEN Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum, and established lay and religious female Catholic leaders can consider becoming part of GIVEN’s mentorship program. Visit GIVENInstitute.com or follow us on social media to learn more about these opportunities!