From a Lay Leader's Desk

A series of opinion articles from lay leaders in our synod.



Mar 18, 2021

By Karen Falco, MNYS Chief Operating Officer                                                         

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-17
Celebrating Women’s History Month 2021 makes me think back to when this time of honoring women began. Dating back to 1911, my maternal grandmother, “Oma,” who lived to be 98, was just four years old. What began as a one-day observance, turned into a week in the 1970s and a month-long celebration in the 1980s, to acknowledge the accomplishments and contributions of women in our history and, more personally, in our lives.
I have been blessed to have had, and continue to have, strong, independent, grace-filled women as role models in my life; women in my family, church family, school, and work life, all of who have had an impact on me. Some leading out front, and others, less conspicuously, paving the way for my generation of women and beyond, to feel more natural stepping into leadership roles. My “Oma,” who drove a Ford “tin-Lizzie” in the late 1920s, had a full-time job for as long as I can remember, working in the back office at B. Altmans, a NYC department store of some years ago. Oma might have been only five feet tall in her block heels, but she commanded the room. My mom, on the other hand, was a quiet intellectual with a soft smile and a strong work ethic, who worked for a publishing company, was never afraid of computers, led my Girl Scout troop and was active in the community and church. Their examples laid a foundation for me. I was also inspired by some of my women teachers and professors, who challenged the norms and shared their unique life stories.  
When I began my career, one of my co-workers, who became a respected friend, shared her faith with me. She always had a calm, peaceful demeanor, no matter what the circumstance. She helped me find strength when I didn’t know it was there. Reminding me to “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.” Another woman I celebrate challenged me to explore my faith in a deeper way and sign up for the diakonia program. Who would have expected that I would so look forward to Monday nights and make life-long friendships? What I learned in those two years was transformative. It helped me integrate my faith into my work life—not in an outspoken way of course; I am a Lutheran and yes, I do sit in the back on Sunday mornings.
There have been times of walking through the wilderness alone or beside a friend, which, thanks be to God, have been met with support, encouragement and faith stories from countless beautiful women who persevered, stood back up and continue to inspire me on a daily basis. I am beyond blessed that God has placed all these amazing people in my life.
Thank you Mom, Oma and all you beautiful, courageous women out there, making a difference every day. Who are the women you are celebrating this month?