November 13, 2015

Young women receive Benedictine sisters’ first-ever Mary and Martha Awards for hearts of prayer and service

Erica Heinekamp, left, and LeeAnn Zatkulak pose with the handmade mugs they received as the first winners of the Mary and Martha Awards from the Sisters of St. Benedict at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove. Heienkamp, recipient of the Mary “Heart of Prayer” Award, and Zatkulak, recipient of the Martha “Heart of Service” Award, were honored at a reception at the monastery on Oct. 25. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

Erica Heinekamp, left, and LeeAnn Zatkulak pose with the handmade mugs they received as the first winners of the Mary and Martha Awards from the Sisters of St. Benedict at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove. Heienkamp, recipient of the Mary “Heart of Prayer” Award, and Zatkulak, recipient of the Martha “Heart of Service” Award, were honored at a reception at the monastery on Oct. 25. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

BEECH GROVE—Mention “Martha and Mary,” and two images likely come to mind: one of a woman busy with chores, and one of a woman quietly sitting at the feet of Christ.

One the do-er. One the pray-er.

But both roles are important to a life of faith. To highlight this point, the Sisters of St. Benedict of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove created a new tribute: the “Mary and Martha Awards” for young adult Catholic women in the archdiocese between the ages of 18-35.

“Sometimes we honor women who are older,” said Benedictine Sister Julie Sewell, the community’s vocations director. “But if you think of the young adult community, there are some beautiful things that happen there. There are some young adults trying to live faithful lives, living lives of prayer and service as models.

“[The story of Martha and Mary in] the Gospel of Luke calls us to ponder our prayer life and our life of service. A life of prayer can lead us to service, but as we engage in service and encounter people, we sometimes take that back to prayer.”

For the inaugural Mary and Martha Awards, which is co-sponsored by the vocations-promoting Serra Club of Indianapolis, the sisters and young adults on the steering committee selected Erica Heinekamp for the Mary “Heart of Prayer” Award, and LeeAnn Zatkulak for the Martha “Heart of Service” Award. The awards were presented at the monastery on Oct. 25.

“These two recipients are both wonderful women who serve in the Church in many, many ways,” said Benedictine Sister Jennifer Mechtild Horner, prioress of the monastery. “We separated them into Mary and Martha, but one is Martha-Mary and one is Mary-Martha. You can’t have one without the other, but the emphasis on each [trait] is maybe a little different.”

Heinekamp, 32, said she was surprised she was selected for the Mary Award.

“With this Mary and Martha connection, I’ve always associated myself way more with Martha in her terms of busyness and being stressed out with the busyness,” she said.

Indeed, the list of leadership roles the elementary teacher at St. Susanna School in Plainfield bears is extensive, including the Communion and Liberation lay movement group in Indianapolis; her home parish of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis; the hospitality team for World Youth Day; the Race for Vocations; and First Fridays, a young adult activity in Indianapolis involving adoration followed by dinner and fellowship.

“But we realized without a strong prayer life, she wouldn’t be so fruitful,” said Krissy Vargo, archdiocesan Young Adult and College Campus Ministry event and volunteer coordinator and a member of the Mary and Martha Awards committee. “We were able to recognize prayer as the source of her activity,”

Prayer is important to Heinekamp, who lives in one of two women’s formation houses in Indianapolis sponsored by the Office of Young Adult and College Campus Ministry.

“We’re all single, Catholic women,” Heinekamp explained. “We get up in the morning and pray together. I recognize that when I don’t have that [prayer] in the morning and the routine of prayer is missing, that something in my day is really lacking.”

Heinekamp credits her pastor, Father Rick Nagel, with teaching her much about prayer.

“I’m very active, and I don’t sit still well,” she admitted. “Father Rick taught me that you can go for a bike ride and that’s prayer, or wash dishes and that’s prayer.

“And through Communion and Liberation [an ecclesial movement started in 1954 by Father Luigi Giussani], through reading Father Guissani’s works, I’ve learned that prayer is not an act as much as it is your life embedded into this covenant with God.”

Heinekamp said she was “excited to receive the award”—but not because of the recognition.

“For our age group, it can be a temptation to put off faith until you have kids or get old. I think it’s a really good thing to have a moment where young adults are encouraged to live lives of holiness, and that holiness is achieved and possible through a relationship with God.”

Megan Fish, director of communications for St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis and a member of the awards committee, said she sees such a relationship with God through the service of the Martha “Heart of Service” Award winner, LeeAnn Zatkulak.

“LeeAnn showcases her goodness through service and how that draws her closer to our Lord,” said Fish. “She’s an inspiration from a young adult standpoint, letting God guide her life. She’s an inspiration to me and anyone in her life.”

Zatkulak, 23, is also a member of St. John, and is a senior at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. Her chosen major, social work, stems from her experience of serving at-risk youths in Brazil.

“It all started with my parents,” who moved the family to Brazil when she was just 1 year old to do two years of mission work, Zatkulak said. When the family returned to St. Louis de Montfort Parish in Fishers, Ind., in the Diocese of Lafayette, they helped establish a sister-parish relationship with a parish in Imbau in the Brazilian state of Parana.

“Now groups from their parish go every year to the sister parish,” she said.

And so it was that Zatkulak’s friend Katie Wilson went to Brazil. Her heart was so touched by the poverty of the youths she encountered, Wilson returned to Imbau in 2008 and founded a ministry called Project Discovery.

Through this ministry, before- and after-school activities are offered to at-risk youths, ranging from learning martial arts to English, dance to using digital cameras, and even field trips to the beach, professional soccer games and amusement parks.

“I went down [to volunteer] for six months at a time for three years after high school, then would work back at home for the other six months,” Zatkulak said. She returned to Imbau to volunteer during her summer vacation each year since starting college in 2012.

“I’m praying to discern about going down after I graduate [next May],” she said.

As the Martha Award suggests, Zatkulak truly has a heart for service.

“I don’t think there’s anything I don’t like about serving,” she said enthusiastically. “It’s ingrained in the way I grew up. When I was in high school, I liked the good feeling of giving back.”

As she has matured, service has evolved into more than a good feeling—it’s led her to prepare for a career in social work.

“It’s like the Scripture passage that says to whom much is given, much is expected” (Lk 12:48), she said. “I’ve been blessed so much in my life. I wouldn’t find anything gratifying if I wasn’t serving others in the Church or in my career.”

And one need not travel to Brazil to serve, Zatkulak noted.

“Service can be in day-to-day life,” she said. “I work at a coffee shop. I pray every day to be Christ to the people I’ll serve coffee to.”

Praying for those whom she serves is another example of the connectedness of prayer and service, of Martha and Mary and the new awards created by the Benedictine sisters at Our Lady of Grace Monastery.

“I love this award,” said Zatkulak. “Prayer was so important in my discernment of doing service. Prayer and service just go hand in hand.”

(To nominate a Catholic woman between the ages of 18-35 from anywhere in the archdiocese for the Mary and Martha Awards—which will be presented again next October—contact Benedictine Sister Julie Sewell, director of vocations for Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, at 317-787-3287, ext. 3032, or

Local site Links: