By Kris Gallagher
“Someone who, despite the odds, can do what it takes to get things done.”
Keynote speaker Georgianna Torres Reyes was talking about St. Louise de Marillac, but she could easily have been talking about any of the 160 women honored this year as Women of Spirit and Action by DWN. More than 200 people gathered at the breakfast event on Nov. 5 to celebrate the recipients, network and reflect on the life of St. Louise.
St. Louise was “a warrior, a worrier, a doer,” said Torres Reyes, who is an assistant vice president in the Office of Mission and Values. Despite having the bad head cold that students dubbed “DePlague,” she spoke movingly about St. Louise’s life: her father’s early death, her split education between a cerebral religious school and a pragmatic boarding school, her thwarted desire to join a convent, her arranged marriage, her sickly son, and her growing conviction that God had plans for her outside of family life.
After her husband’s death, Louise was assigned a new spiritual counselor: Vincent de Paul, a man she initially found repugnant. Vincent soon came to rely on her judgment and organizational skills, while Louise found her outlet to serve something greater than herself. In essence, they became “the dreamer and the wheels behind the dream,” said Torres Reyes.
Torres Reyes led the attendees in a series of short reflections on the complexities of their multiple roles, roadblocks they have faced, and their insecurities and how to counter them.
Then, to applause and occasional yells of support, DWN President Shea Wolfe introduced the recipients, who came forward to accept their awards while excerpts from their nominations scrolled on the screen behind them.
“The women of spirit and action we recognized today have many talents and commitments,” said Jennifer Roop, executive vice president of DWN, in her closing remarks. “They are masters of accomplishing what they set out to do, helping others and themselves in the process.”
Kris Gallagher is a member of the Marketing and Communications Team for DWN, and a Senior Editor for University Relations at DePaul.