On Wednesday night, the young women of Visitation, their parents, faculty and staff, and alumnae who gathered in the Nolan Center were witness to a sterling example of a woman of faith, vision, and purpose. Kim Daniels’ self-evident intellect, poise, elocution, diplomacy, and, above all, deep faith, make it clear why she was chosen by the Vatican in 2016 to serve as Secretariat for Communications.
Kim addressed head-on the challenges Catholics face today, with a fractured Church and a world that seems dominated by news of hatred and division. Against this background, Kim carried a message of hope - for all Catholics, but particularly for women in the Church.
Citing examples of the expanding leadership opportunities available to women - and the roles females already play in the Church, leading such vital ministries as Catholic Charities USA and the Catholic Health Association - Kim outlined specific strategies for navigating difficult conversations while remaining firmly rooted in our Catholic values.
First and foremost, she recommended placing prayer and sacraments at the center of community and conversation. With that firm foundation in place, she reminded all to assume the good - always act with the understanding that the other individual has the best intentions. The companion to that counsel is to embrace our Salesian virtue of humility, not always assuming that you are in the right. She emphasized the importance of active listening - being curious about another’s perspective, truly hearing what they are saying and not just formulating your response while they are speaking. Underpinning all this advice is the importance of personal, face-to-face discussion, rather than interaction through social media. She reminded the audience of the tremendous value of breaking bread together and the transcendent power of friendship, which is born of personal connection.
Kim emphasized the importance of focusing on shared beliefs and values - common ground - rather than differences. One way to do this is through service, to work together to help those in need. She reminded the audience of St. Francis de Sales’ call to “Be who you are and be that well,” highlighting that each of us has unique gifts and a distinct perspective that we are called to share with the world. She underscored the urgency of women heeding this call as the Church will continue to need women’s voices as it navigates current and future challenges.
She closed with a message of hope, reminding the audience of the empty tomb and all of the joy embodied in that moment, the promise our faith holds.