October 6, 2017

Benedictine sisters honor women with Mary and Martha awards

By Natalie Hoefer

Mary—the quiet woman of prayer who sat and listened at the feet of Jesus.

Martha—the sister who busied herself in the kitchen preparing the meal for Jesus and his followers.

Both women, whose story is told in the Gospel of Luke, reveal traits important to the heart of being a Christian.

Each year, the Sisters of St. Benedict of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove honor two young women between the ages of 18-35 who exemplify each of these traits—Mary, the heart of prayer, and Martha, the heart of service.

This year’s celebration, to be held from 3-5 p.m. on Oct. 22 at the monastery, will honor Maggie Hagenauer, 31, with the “Mary, Heart of Prayer” award, and Julie Bowman, 29, with the “Martha, Heart of Service Award.”

‘A promoter and leader of prayer’

Maggie HagenauerOn the surface, it would seem Hagenauer, a member of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis, should receive the Martha, Heart of Service Award.

Even Hagenauer, a second-grade teacher at St. Luke the Evangelist School in Indianapolis, says she “almost laughed” when she heard she was receiving the Mary Award.

“My life has been chaos with serving the last two years,” she says, referring to a year she spent volunteering for Maggie’s Place in Arizona helping homeless pregnant women, and the seven months after that she spent as interim director of the Cathedral Soup Kitchen and food pantry in Indianapolis.

So why was she selected for the Mary, Heart of Prayer Award?

“For Maggie, the one reason that came to the top for us along with her service work is that she is a promoter and leader of prayer,” says Benedictine Sister Julie Sewell, director of vocations for Our Lady of Grace Monastery. “She has done this in official roles and in less formal environments.”

Such prayer-related service and promotion over the years includes being a member of the Young Adult Charismatic Prayer Group and of the St. Michael Association, which prays weekly for the safety of the residents of Indianapolis; serving as leader of the St. Catherine of Alexandria formation house for women in Indianapolis; preparing children for the sacraments of Communion and reconciliation for seven years as second-grade teacher at St. Philip Neri School in Indianapolis; organizing retreats for participants in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults; and inviting young adults to pray a weekly rosary during Advent and Lent.

“The sacramental preparation is my favorite,” says Hagenauer, who now has that pleasure again in her new job at St. Luke the Evangelist School.

“It’s all about going to heaven for me. That’s why I get up in the morning, why I teach in Catholic school. It all points to heaven and getting others to heaven.”

She credits her spiritual growth to her time at the women’s formation house, the intercession of St. Teresa of Avila, and a pre-World Youth Day experience in 2011.

“I didn’t really know what World Youth Day was, but I wanted to go to Avila [Spain],” says Hagenauer of a side trip the Indianapolis group she was traveling with took before the global event started in Madrid.

“We went to Mass there, and after the consecration I just heard the words, ‘Pursue a religious life.’ ”

She has since been discerning a religious vocation, considering different orders and even the possibility of living as a consecrated single.

As for the award she is receiving, Hagenauer says she is honored and humbled.

“This is Jesus calling me back to be more Mary-like,” says Hagenauer. “This is a call [saying], ‘You’ve done your Martha, now be Mary.’ ”

Facilitating ‘growth in others’

Julie BowmanMartha, Heart of Service Award winner Bowman says that from a young age, “volunteering and service to others has been a core calling, a part of my life.”

Sister Julie notes the recipient’s desire to serve.

“One thing that led to [Julie] rising to the top was that she is in roles where she mentors and encourages others in service,” she says.

Bowman, a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Indianapolis, works in the city as director of programming for the non-profit organization College Mentors for Kids.

“In college, I was involved with non‑profits and volunteering,” says Bowman, who graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington in 2011 with a degree in finance and international business. “I thought, ‘Sometime in my future, this will be my career.’ Just a year later, it was! I wanted to use my God‑given gifts and skills in a way that serves others directly.”

She also volunteered for seven years and now works part time for Camp Kesem at Indiana University, a respite for children of a parent with cancer. For the past 13 years, she has volunteered for Youth Resources of Southwestern Indiana’s TEENPOWER program in Evansville—close to her native Newburgh—leading workshops and serving as an adult advisor to small groups of teens.

She also offers her time and talent to her parish and to the IndyCatholic young adult group, leading and facilitating several small groups, book studies and retreat groups, and helping with youth ministry.

“I like to facilitate growth in other people,” says Bowman. “That’s an area of service where I’m able to serve God and give back to others.”

She says her lifelong Catholic faith “influenced my desire to serve other people and God. It’s a core part of who I am. By grace, I’ve been practicing [the faith] my whole life, but that’s increased over time. When I moved to Indianapolis after college, I got more involved in my faith.

“We have a great young adult Catholic community [in Indianapolis]. I have many friends who encourage me to grow in my faith. It’s Martha-like to have a community.”

Despite all of her service and activity, Bowman says she is “humbled and surprised” to receive the Martha, Heart of Service Award.

“There are many, many young adult women who are doing the same thing,” she says. “It’s great that the sisters created this award to recognize young women. I’m honored to be one of them this year.”

(The Mary and Martha Award ceremony will take place at the Sisters of St. Benedict Our Lady of Grace Monastery, 1402 Southern Ave., in Beech Grove, from 3-5 p.m. on Oct. 22. Coffee and light refreshments will be served. All are invited.)

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