October 19, 2018

Benedictine sisters honor young women with Mary, Martha awards

Katie Duffy, left, and Amanda DeRoche are the winners, respectively, of the "Mary, Heart of Prayer" and "Martha, Heart of Service" awards, given on Oct. 28 at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove.

Katie Duffy, left, and Amanda DeRoche are the winners, respectively, of the "Mary, Heart of Prayer" and "Martha, Heart of Service" awards, given on Oct. 28 at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove.

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. 28 at the monastery, will honor Katie Duffy, 29, with the “Mary, Heart of Prayer” award, and Amanda DeRoche, 29, with the “Martha, Heart of Service” award.

‘Keep a mindfulness of God’s presence’

When Katie Duffy learned that she was chosen to receive the “Mary, Heart of Prayer” award, she felt “humbled, and not necessarily worthy of it. I can’t just go off and pray like I used to,” she says.

Duffy can name two reasons her dedicated prayer time is now more limited: 21-month‑old Therese, and 7-month-old Dominic.

In June of 2017, Duffy made the switch from working as a teacher at St. Joan of Arc School in Indianapolis to becoming a stay-at-home mom.

So how does she work prayer into her busy life?

“Sometimes I think not very well,” she admits. “Going from all the freedom and time in the world and having quiet prayer when you want, and now having to work for it is challenging.

“But it’s also beautiful. I’ve learned to keep a mindfulness of God’s presence throughout the day. That’s been very important.”

Duffy finds herself now “invoking God’s grace and asking for his presence” throughout her day.

“Going from a career to staying at home is definitely against the grain of society, so I remind myself that this is a very purposeful vocation,” she says. “Needing God’s grace has helped me realize I need to be prayerful about what I’m doing.”

As one might surmise from her daughter’s name, Duffy has a devotion to St. Thérèse of Lisieux, also known as the “Little Flower.” She turns to that saint for an example of praying throughout the day.

“Her little way of trying to see God in little things has been very influential in my life,” she says. “That carries into trying to be prayerful as a mother of two.”

And for the times Duffy does manage to find quiet time for prayer at home or elsewhere, she keeps a small journal at the ready.

“I can write things out, and that helps me from getting distracted,” she says. Plus it allows her to write down prayer intentions of those in her small faith sharing group “so I don’t forget them.”

Kathryn Wetzel, a member of the same group, appreciates Duffy’s effort.

“She listens fully to what other people are saying, and asks questions to get to the heart of what we each need,” says Wetzel. “I am inspired by her to commit more to my own faith life, and I learn from the wisdom she shares. … She is a model for all young adults about how anyone can commit to prayer and be present to others through prayer and action, regardless of career or vocation.”

While Duffy feels humbled to receive the award, she also says she is grateful “because it has helped me reflect on what it means to have a heart of prayer and how I can improve my prayer life.

“It’s helped me realize that being prayerful is not necessarily going to adoration every single day. Even just 10 minutes in the morning before the babies wake up centers your heart and mind on Christ and what the purpose of your daily life is.

“It’s given me a resurgence, so I’m very grateful.”

‘Service can be lots of things’

When she received the call that she was to receive the “Martha, Heart of Service” Award, Amanda DeRoche says she “felt so honored. I’ve seen lovely women get it. When I was called I was absolutely touched.”

Most of her service in the last five years has been spent volunteering for the Life Teen program at St. Jude Parish in Indianapolis.

“That [program] is how my faith life got fired up as a teen,” DeRoche says. “I took ownership of my faith in high school.”

She continued to be active in her faith during college at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. As an intern for a leadership program through the school’s Newman Center during her junior year, she started a high school ministry program for a local parish. She volunteered with the program during her senior year, then worked in Muncie for a year while continuing to volunteer with the parish program she developed.

The next year, DeRoche took a job with Salesforce and moved to Indianapolis. It wasn’t long before she was involved with the Life Teen group at St. Jude, serving as a small group leader, chaperoning the students at three National Catholic Youth Conferences, “and just helping in any way they need,” she says.

“Amanda lives beyond her capacity as a leader,” says Sean Hussey, coordinator of young adult and youth ministry for St. Jude. “She spends time getting to know the female students [of the Life Teen program] not just during the Sunday meetings, but also on her own time.

“She has a servant’s heart. She is always willing to give of her time in any way she can, and she does it with joy and excitement. [Her desire to serve] clearly comes from a solid foundation of a relationship with Jesus Christ and a love for God.”

DeRoche also spends time serving her own parish, St. John the Evangelist in Indianapolis. She is a member of the parish’s faith formation commission, and helps with marketing for the parish’s annual three-day Christkindl Village festival and with faith formation aspects of the event.

“I’m blessed at the time to be single, so my time and resources and relationships make all this service possible—I don’t have to seek out serving as much as it seeks me,” she says with a laugh.

“And service can be lots of things—how you treat others and how you use free time. Meeting with friends can be service,” DeRoche adds.

Rebecca Kovert, event and volunteer coordinator for the archdiocesan Office of Young Adult and College Campus Ministry, has benefited from DeRoche’s servant attitude toward her friends.

“From the first time we met [in college], Amanda was a great support to me as I was wrestling with some questions about my own faith,” says Kovert. “She has dedicated a lot of her time and energy to helping others in whatever way they may need support and encouragement. Amanda embodies the phrase of ‘faith in action.’ ”

“I live by the mantra of ‘we’re called to serve,’ ” DeRoche says. “I don’t see any other way to live your life.”

(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. 28. Coffee and light refreshments will be served. All are invited.)

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