Reflection: A Litany of Women Who Stood Up

John Maganzini, OFM Features

A friar at Boston’s St. Anthony Shrine wrote the following reflection after being inspired by the Honorable Regina Quinlan-Doherty, who was honored at the Shrine’s 2018 gala. The litany honors the women who have been chosen by God to hear the message of St. Francis of Assisi heard long ago, “Rebuild my Church…”

God needed a woman to begin a journey that demonstrated faith and belief in God’s promise, a witness that God’s promises comes true. God chose Sarah and Sarah stood up.

God needed a woman to demonstrate the power of conversion and service to God’s people. God chose Ruth and Ruth stood up.

God needed a woman to exemplify persistent prayer with faithfulness to God. God chose Hannah and Hannah stood up.

God needed a woman to risk her life as a model of bravery, who sought God’s guidance in times of difficulty, and who had unbounded confidence in God’s providence. God chose Esther and Esther stood up.

God needed a woman to be a prophet and to demonstrate wisdom, courage, and a compassionate zeal for justice. God chose Deborah and Deborah stood up.

God needed a woman who had lived a long life and who had dedicated her entire life to God, a true witness of dedication and hope. God chose Anna and Anna stood up.

God needed a woman to be the mother of his son, a woman of “yes” to God and God’s will, a woman who would sing aloud her “Magnificat” to the God who had chosen her. God chose Mary of Nazareth and Mary stood up.

God needed a woman to be a model of welcome, to acknowledge Mary as the chosen one, to be the mother of John, the voice who cried out in the wilderness. God chose Elizabeth and Elizabeth stood up.

God needed a woman – a stranger – to enter into a moment of relationship with Jesus that changed her life, to be a model of holy conversation. God chose the Samaritan woman and the Samaritan woman stood up.

God needed a woman to follow Jesus, to listen to His Word, to truly become a disciple, to be first to announce the Good News that Jesus had risen. God chose Mary Magdalene and Mary stood up.

All through time, God needed women of courage and strong faith.

God needed women to serve the poor and to show us God’s great love and mercy. God chose Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Dorothy Day, and they stood up.

God needed dedicated woman to begin new movements within the Church. God chose women of vision – Mary of the Passion, Mother St. John Fontbonne, Julie Billiart, Elizabeth Hayes, Sr. Mary Joseph, Jane Frances de Chantal, Catherine McAuley, Jeanne Jugan, Elizabeth Ann Seton, Katharine Drexel, Louise de Marillac, Catherine DeRicci, Madeline Sophie Barat, Rose Philippine Duchesne, Therese of Lisieux, Teresa of Avila, Clare of Assisi, and many more who were pioneers and who began new movements within the Church, who taught God’s children and nursed the sick, who spread the Good News through lives of prayer and service. God chose special women for religious service, and these chosen women stood up.

For years and years, women of every age, race, background, and nation heard and continue to hear God’s invitation to “stand up.”


Br. John is stationed at St. Anthony Shrine, where he has lived and worked since 1996.

Editor’s note: Friars interested in writing a reflection for HNP Today on a timely topic – a holiday, current event, holy day or other seasonal themes – are invited to contact the HNP Communications Office at Additional reflections by friars can be found on the Spiritual Resources page of


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