October 14, 2016

Two young adult women to receive 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.

Last year, the Sisters of St. Benedict of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, in union with the Serra Club of Indianapolis, instituted a new annual award for 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. 23 at the monastery, will honor two such women. The “Mary, Heart of Service” award is being presented to Katie Sahm, and the “Martha, Heart of Service Award” will go to Lauren LaCoy.

‘God created me to serve’

Lauren LaCoyLaCoy, 31, admits she is pretty busy.

“I don’t know how it’s possible to do all this stuff [I do],” she says with a laugh. “It’s the Holy Spirit, not me.”

For LaCoy, “all this stuff” includes her job as a theology teacher and campus minister at St. Theodore Guérin High School in Noblesville, Ind., in the Lafayette Diocese (“I’m not messing—around I want to make my students saints,” she says); spending summers serving at Bethlehem Farm, a Catholic community in the Appalachians in West Virginia that serves the local community and teaches sustainable practices; helping with events and service projects with the Knights of Columbus Council #437 in Indianapolis; working to start a Daughters of Isabella chapter—the female counterpart organization to the Knights of Columbus—in Indianapolis; instructing teens for Rite of Christian Initiation for Teens; serving as a member of the IndyCatholic welcome team; helping at the Cathedral Kitchen; and helping with Operation Leftover, a Catholic organization in Indianapolis that serves food to the homeless.

“I’ve always had a heart for service,” says LaCoy. “It’s how God created me, to be one to serve. ... It’s rooted in a love of Christ, and it brings people to a love of Christ as well.”

“Lauren embodies the spirit of Martha in that she has the gift of extreme hospitality,” reads a comment from one who nominated her for the award. “I will see Lauren flitting around the kitchen or the living room, attending to the needs of others and making sure that everyone is fed. … Lauren sees service as an opportunity—not as an obligation.”

LaCoy, a lifelong Catholic, says her faith “is the air that I breathe. My love and devotion to our Lord informs all of my actions. … He said the least among you is the greatest. I’m looking to serve our Lord in great ways, to throw myself at him and serve him and his people in whatever way he leads [me].”

She says receiving the Martha award is an honor, but comes as a shock.

“Part of what surprised me is I only moved here last year [from Illinois],” says LaCoy.

“And this is a special honor because I’ve always felt close to Martha, since I work in the kitchen at [Bethlehem Farm]. She was called to serve people, but also to take time and be there with [Jesus].

“I love that she has that close of a personal relationship with Christ, that she can say to him, ‘Hey, I think there’s an injustice, and we need to do something about it.” … I see her as a role model in faith. I’m honored that others see a sprinkling of her in me in some way.”

With her family in Illinois, LaCoy feels called to serve within the local Catholic community.

“The Indianapolis community is so strong, faithful and vibrant,” she says. “To serve them is like serving my family. That’s what I need to do.”

‘I just long to sit and be with him’

Katie SahmTo look at Katie Sahm’s list of activities, the Martha Award would seem like a natural fit for her. But those who know her know that all of her work stems from a life deeply rooted in prayer.

“Katie has dedicated a majority of her life to teaching and doing ministry work for the Catholic Church,” states a comment on one of her nomination forms. “But this is just a part of her ever-striving to heed the will of God throughout all parts of her life. … She has the gift to bring Christ to all in all situations.”

Sahm, a 33-year-old member of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis, has been working in ministry for the Church in some capacity from her college years at DePaul University in Chicago as a retreat leader, to teaching theology and art and doing campus ministry at the high school level, through her current job as associate director of young adult and college campus ministry for the archdiocese.

Six years ago, she started St. Catherine of Alexandria Formation House for young women in Indianapolis. The effort naturally started with prayer.

She was living with her parents after moving back to Indianapolis.

“I kept saying, “I’ll get an apartment,’ but every time I looked, this heavy weight was on my shoulders, and I thought, ‘I don’t think I want to move into an apartment by myself. I want to come home to family, and I want a support system of prayer.’

“St. Catherine of Alexandria came into my life that year. She’s the patroness of young single women. I had this call to have a spiritual motherhood. I asked for St. Catherine’s intercession and told the Lord, ‘If you want me to create this community, you’ve got to provide everything, because I don’t know how to do it.’ ”

Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis had a house become available and let Sahm use it. She found her first roommates through Theology on Tap.

“It’s a house for young adult women who are discerning any vocation. We live in an intentional community, so there’s daily prayer, weekly community prayer nights, and most ladies are in small groups or prayer groups for young adults.”

The archdiocese now operates the home and five additional formation houses that have been created for young adults. Sahm now lives down the street from St. Catherine Formation House, “but I still mentor the women in the house—that was a direct call that, through prayer, the Lord revealed to me.”

Another direct call Sahm has discerned through prayer is to leave her job at the archdiocese to develop a business creating faith-based art.

“Even though I’ve worked in ministry, I’ve always done art as well,” says Sahm, who majored in art and currently paints and draws, creates unique rosaries, and does photography, digital art and graphic design.

“That call of being an artist is the call of evangelization,” she says. “The first step of evangelization is in letting people encounter true beauty, and helping them discern the journey in their heart and how that’s calling them to God.”

Through her new business, “Become a New Creation,” Sahm will sell items online and at local Catholic bookstores, do photo shoots and see where the demand for faith-based creations takes her.

She says she is “humbled” to receive the Mary Award.

“I just love the image of Mary sitting at Christ’s feet in this awe. When my life is getting out of order or chaotic or I don’t feel ‘right,’ I just long to sit with him and be with him. I love the idea that he doesn’t expect anything of us in those moments.

“Yes, we are called to serve, and I do plenty, just like Martha, but the Lord is just wanting to be with us. Those moments of just being and sitting with the Lord is what gives me the strength to then serve others. …

“But your whole life is a prayer when you offer it up and say, ‘Your will be done.’

“When you make a personal commitment and tell the Lord you are my all, there is nothing I want other than you, that’s a beautiful thing. But to see other people see it and recognize it in me is very humbling.”

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

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