Mentors have been an instrumental part of my life. While I was in high school, the college advisor did little to motivate me to pursue the first college of my choice. It was Helen who guided me through the process that ultimately helped me get accepted. After college, between job transitions, it was Rudy who helped me discover an interest in ministry – after working in the Fashion Industry. What both of these mentors had in common was that they believed in me and were able to point out my gifts, even when they were not immediately obvious to me. They were both guides during pivotal moments in my life.
Mentors are an invaluable resource, especially to aid in our growth and leadership development. We seek mentors for our careers and for guidance in advancing in the workplace. But, how about a mentor that journeys with you through your faith and life transitions? At the GIVEN Institute, we believe that pairing a young woman with an established Catholic female leader is integral to her growth as a disciple of Jesus Christ. For this reason, we developed the Art of Accompaniment Mentoring Program that “accompanies young Catholic women in activating their gifts for the Gospel.” Particular attention is paid to “the ways that women integrate faith, interpersonal relationships, professional aspirations, and vocational responsibilities.” (The GIVEN Institute)
5 Things Catholics Should Look For In A Mentor
When discerning who to invite to be a mentor, there are some core elements. We seek mentors that:
- Are actively growing in their faith.
According to Christian Smith in the book “Young Catholic America,” the sociological factor which makes the biggest difference in the religious and spiritual lives of Catholic young people (after the example of parents) are relationships with role models, mentors, teachers, and friends who are serious about the Catholic faith. A mentor should first and foremost help you grow closer as a disciple of Jesus Christ, as they actively grow in their own faith.
- Are not afraid to be vulnerable.
Relationship is at the heart of GIVEN’s Art of Accompaniment Mentoring Program. A mentor will not lead you where they have not walked through themselves. We believe that Catholic women are strongest when they integrate their walk with Christ into their own leadership development, and we encourage conversations around healing and mercy. A mentor will help you explore the harmony between your personal faith and professional growth.
- Responds with the gift of her personal vocation.
Another important element for a mentor is the understanding of personal vocation. Often vocation is viewed from the perspective of state in life. What we refer to as personal vocation is each person’s unrepeatable call from God to respond with the gift given to her by God. A mentor helps each woman hear this unique and unrepeatable call of the Holy Spirit in her life enabling her, as Luke Burgis writes in the book “Unrepeatable” to “find meaning in every circumstance of life.” A mentor helps to equip the mentee with embracing her response to give and receive love in the world.
- Helps make meaningful connections.
The idiom “it takes a village” is also true of a mentor. A mentor is not afraid to seek the assistance of others in exploring the best ways to accompany her mentee. We value the ability to foster a network of Catholic female leaders with diverse skills, backgrounds, and areas of expertise coming from various states in life to help a young woman advance in her goals.
- Shares from her own lived experiences.
St. Paul shares in 2 Corinthians 3:32: “You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by all, shown to be a letter of Christ administered by us, written not in ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets that are hearts of flesh.” A mentor exercises, in as much as they are called through their unique
gifts and experiences, their own journey. Each story creates a living tapestry that provides unique insights that enable and foster growth. These insights can help the mentee walk away with a better understanding of her own story and how it plays a role in the Body of Christ.
Pope Pius VI during his address at the close of the Secondmen Vatican Council: “But the hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of woman is being achieved in its fullness, the hour in which woman acquires in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is under-going so deep a transformation, women impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid mankind in not falling.”
This sentiment was echoed by St. John Paul II in Letter to Women where he praised women for enriching the world’s understanding and making human relations more honest and authentic. One of the most beautiful fruits of mentoring relationships is how women affirm and complement other women by the unleashing of their feminine genius. When we discover our personal vocation, we witness how uniquely we were made, and we are compelled to respond with our own unrepeatable gift.
In a society that tends to pit women against each other, the flourishing of the feminine genius in the mentoring relationships allows for each of our lives to bear fruit for the kingdom of God. Mentors keep the mentees’ best interest in mind by providing trust and accountability, sisterhood and spiritual motherhood. Not only does the mentee benefit from this relationship, but more often, the experience is reciprocated by the mentor. It helps mentors hone in on their own skills and giftedness, as well as identifying their own personal vocations. Our hope at the GIVEN Institute is that through receiving the love and gifts of other sisters in the Lord, each woman will be strengthened and equipped to respond with the unique gift that only she can give!