Women learn to help lead others to Jesus

Heidi Jirak, left, takes a selfie with four other women taking part in last month’s GIVEN Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum in Philadelphia. (Courtesy photo)

Heidi Jirak was elated when she received an email a few months ago that her application to participate in the GIVEN Catholic Young Women’s Leadership Forum was approved.

It made up for last year’s disappointment when they sent her a polite note to try again next year.

Jirak, who works in the Chancery as an administrative assistant to the vicar general and the director of Finance and Administrative Services, took part in the forum Tuesday through Saturday, June 21-25, in Philadelphia.

The leadership forum is designed to help young adult Catholic women with a heart for mission and an aptitude for leadership identify their particular gifts and find practical pathways to put them in the service of the Gospel.

For young Catholic women

“It is intended to equip young Catholic female leaders to spread the gospel message and influence the church in a positive way,” she said.

Jirak said the forum helped her gain a lot of self knowledge. “There are three tenants of the conferences: receive the gift you are, realize the gifts you’ve been given, and respond with the gift only you can give.”

Her formation didn’t end with the closing prayer, though. “Once a month for the next 10 months they’ll assign me a mentor who will review my action plan and ensure that I’m doing it,” she said.

“My action plan is to develop my own music business: Assist our diocese in worshipping Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament through music and performing at secular spots with truthful, good, and beautiful music, as an avenue for evangelization; and to educate young persons in vocal and piano skills to assist the future church in providing sacred music for the liturgy.”

Female leaders serve the church

The female mentors are leaders already doing great services to the church, Jirak said, and may be religious sisters, consecrated single, or lay persons.
The leadership forum in Philadelphia included talks by lay and religious female Catholic leaders, leadership training sessions, the identification of gifts and strengths, prayer – and meeting other young Catholic women leaders from the Unites States and the world.

Jirak’s roommate was from Singapore. They were two of over 200 women, including over 100 religious sisters from 25 different communities who took part.

Jirak said she recommends that any woman under 30 – as the forum only accepts women under 30 – who is serious about her faith to consider attending next year’s event.

Those interested may contact her at jirakh@CatholicDioceseOfWichita.org.