22 May, 2008

Maternity Leave - Expansion

Sorry for the delay..."tonight" apparently meant something else to my brain.

Kevin and I have had several conversations about maternity leave since my last post. We've concluded 2 things.

#1: Men and women are both equally deserving of paid parental leave in order to best fulfill their callings as father and mother.

#2: I can only talk about my frustration for so long before I need to do something or become like every other whiny American.

In regards to the second point, I've made the first step beyond talking. I mentioned my concern to my boss, the pastor of our parish. I don't think he was really even aware of the situation or even the possible need. I simply expressed a concern that our maternity policy practice does not align congruently with our moral and doctrinal stand on family life. I acknowledged that I certainly have leave, and am grateful for it, but that I have additional concerns for and beyond my own personal situation.

I also mentioned that although the pattern of employment on our parish staff is that of older women beyond their maternity years, both myself and the newest addition to our staff are and very easily could be eligible for this type of benefit over the course of the next few years. This needs to be considered as more than a current employee issue, but also as an issue of attracting more young and fresh blood to this career that is Catholic ministry. It is hard for any young person to consider working for the church when they consider the hours, the minimal pay, and the expensive benefits. A benefit like this paired with the job-flexibility that many parish jobs provide might just be enough to sway some otherwise elusive candidates.

I don't anticipate any significant movement on my concern before our baby arrives. That being said, it sounds like the issue may come to light at our next human resources committee meeting. I can only hope that this is the first step in a powerful witness to putting our collective Catholic money where our large Catholic mouth is. I'll keep you updated.

On a more inspirational note, I came across this beautiful quote the other day that brought further meaning to my cause, but more importantly my vocation.

"A mother is the most important person on earth. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any Cathedral -- a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby's body."
-- Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty

As for the continued conversation on feminism, there is a great article about the phenomenon of feminism in the Catholic realm called "Is it Time to Dump Feminism?" here: http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3324&Itemid=121&ed=3

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