Christian Leadership: learning to lead as myself and not my gender

BaileyKollasch

Non ducor duco. In English, it means “I am not led, I lead,” and this Latin phrase just so happens to be the motto of the semester-long course — Christian Leadership: A Woman in a Man’s World. 

Last semester, seven  students and I were the first to experience the class despite its establishment in 2019. Classes usually try to create a space where students can trust each other, but Christian Leadership, with its small class and relaxed atmosphere, created a team. My peers weren’t just juniors, seniors, or classmates — they were my mini family. We were all different, our personalities ranging from guarded to open. By learning more about our own strengths, we quickly grew to notice each others’ strengths and sincerely voice encouragement.   

Christian Leadership was my favorite class after all of my years at Marian and taught me valuable lessons I will carry into the rest of my life. It helped me acknowledge everyone’s potential to be a leader, learn how to have healthy communication, and be flexible to include others. I was encouraged to be a leader but in a way that led me to develop my own style of leadership. 

“Sometimes, people go through their lives not realizing that they can be leaders or that they are leaders. They always kind of look to someone else for that, and I think a big part of the mission of Marian is to help each girl understand that they have a part to play,” Deacon Kevin Fuller, the Christian Leadership teacher, said. Inspired by a conference at Notre Dame with women of the church and working on his doctorate in interdisciplinary leadership, Deacon Fuller worked with Mrs. Jennifer Christen to better incorporate leadership in students’ education. Thus, the Christian Leadership course was born a few years later. 

And what’s not to love about this class? Test and quiz dates don’t loom over its students every other week — or at all. Grades are based on participation and displays of leadership. The students have to be open to experiencing a change in how they view their capability. Shyness and charisma do not determine who is a leader — Christian Leadership is an adventure to find pride in yourself and to lead with it. “It’s really more of a transformational class…We’re going to set these objectives in there, and you’re going to have a journey you have to go through through these activities. And through the different things that we do… that’s going to transform your perspective in a way that I think will really help students in the future be our tagline, to be those competent leaders that can go out into the world,” Fuller said. 

 Although the course’s title seems controversial since it is taught by a man, Fuller acknowledged his role to provide his students the means to discover and utilize their strengths.  “When I thought about the class, I really wanted students to have to step in and be leaders right away. So from the very beginning, it was, you know, how are you going to handle these activities? How can you lead these activities? And then I would sit back and kind of maybe give a pointer or reflection or a thought,” Fuller said.

The Church is a subcategory of a society in which women’s leadership isn’t as apparent. Women can’t become priests, they can’t lead mass — they can’t, they can’t, they can’t. Christian leadership taught me to acknowledge those limits and pave a path suitable for me. One of the several speakers we met, Parish Life Director Ms. Sara Schulte-Bukowinski of St. John’s Parish, advised the class to focus on what we want to pursue in life rather than brood over those limits. I may be upset that women can’t become priests, but this doesn’t mean I want to become one. Ms. Schulte-Bukowinski’s role in her community is to share ministerial responsibilities with her parish’s priest, and can perform any duty he can except for mass and the sacraments.

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