‘Examples of Light’: The Women of The Catholic Association
What do a lawyer, an author, a senior policy advisor and a doctor have in common? They’re the women at the helm of The Catholic Association (TCA). It’s a non-profit group dedicated to being “a faithful Catholic voice in the public square.” These women aren’t just highly accomplished in the workplace. They’re moms too — a vocation they say is the most important one.
The Women of TCA
The women of TCA testify, write and speak on issues like abortion, the HHS mandate and religious freedom. They are Attorney Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, Senior Fellow Ashley McGuire, Senior Policy Advisor Maureen Ferguson and Policy Advisor Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie.
Picciotti-Bayer does what she calls traditional lawyering — like filing briefs. She also advises on legislation. Lately, she’s been looking at legislation on human trafficking and sex trafficking from legal, social and political perspectives. In addition, she writes book reviews on Catholic and social policy issues.
McGuire does a little bit of everything. She writes and speaks about religious freedom, Catholicism and women. She’s testified at hearings on D.C.’s assisted suicide bill and in Geneva at the U.N. Her book, Sex Scandal: The Drive to Abolish Male and Female, was released last year.
Ferguson tracks legislative issues, particularly right-to-life, family-related and sex trafficking issues. She is a prolific speaker and writer. She’s been invited to provide briefings to congressional staff and has participated in Capitol Hill news conferences. Ferguson covered the installation of the Pope in 2013 from Rome.
Pozo Christie writes and speaks about Catholicism, religious freedom, and issues at the intersection of faith and science. She covered the Synod on the Family from Rome in 2014 and 2015. She also won an award from the Catholic Press Association for “best regular column on family life.” As a practicing radiologist, Pozo Christie also speaks about government health care policies. She was a featured speaker at the National March for Life in Washington, D.C., in January 2015.
Each of the women brings something different to TCA, explained Ferguson. “Grazie brings her medical background, Ashley’s got her millennial perspective, Andrea’s an attorney who used to work at the Justice Department [and] I have a legislative background in public policy. And we’re all mothers so we bring that perspective as well. I think it’s a great model for women who want to sort of contribute in the public square to promote beauty, goodness and truth.”
‘A Special Voice’
As women, they bring a lot to the table. Women see things in a unique perspective, said Picciotti-Bayer. “We pay a lot more attention to detail and we’re a lot more tuned in to the emotional and the sensitive.” Not to say that their perspective isn’t academic or intellectual as well, she added.
“Women have a special voice when it comes to the family,” said Pozo Christie. “We’re able to communicate that in a way that’s very authentic.”
‘Family is Everything’
And that voice comes in handy when they work on family issues. “As you know, a lot of issues touching on life and family are being brought into the legislation and into the judicial system,” said Picciotti-Bayer. She most recently filed court documents on cases involving legislation targeting crisis pregnancy centers. “They’re trying to constrain what [crisis pregnancy centers are] doing and compel them to say pro-abortion messages,” she explained.
“Women don’t hear the truth about what makes us unique, how we should demand to be treated, how the abortion industry harms women,” said McGuire.
“The family is under terrible attack,” said Pozo Christie. “It’s being destroyed from all sorts of directions. It’s terrifying. As a basic unit of society, the family is where we are happiest, where we flourish, where we find peace and companionship and support for our old age. The family is everything.”
Putting Their Family First
And it’s clear that family comes first for these women. Altogether the women have 23 children. “I’m the underachiever in the group,” jokes McGuire, who has three children. But each of the women want other women to know they can be successful at motherhood and their career. “I try in my work to be a testament to the fact that marriage and motherhood is very much an empowering thing and is good for women and is compatible with an interesting career and still very much being a part of the things you care about,” said McGuire.
“As a professional woman, my family’s not something that comes at the end of things,” said Pozo Christie. “It’s not number 8 on the list of priorities. It’s number 1 through 8 and then others are after that. I think we can do that as professional women. …I can still be a professional woman and still be out in the world, but I want to put my focus on the family, because the family is not just important to us, it’s important to the entire society.”
“There’s something really wonderful about motherhood and family life and I think oftentimes, especially in the beltway, the DC area, it’s forgotten,” said Picciotti-Bayer. “Being able to be a mom and at the same time being able to work and contribute and try to balance all of that and speak to that is something that a lot of women need to hear and are yearning for.”
“We recognize we treasure our primary vocation as mothers,” said Ferguson. She hopes that TCA can be a model for other women who want to contribute professionally and be a mom.
And they seem to be doing a great job at that. “Part of our authentic feminism is to be able to power through and continue to be positive,” said Picciotti-Bayer. “Even when things look dark and difficult, there’s always light. These women are incredible examples of light.”
TCA Moving Forward
McGuire said that the group isn’t just defending the Church, but also “in a positive and proactive way trying to bring the Church’s beautiful messages to the culture that so desperately needs to hear them.” She hopes TCA will continue to do so.
The fact that four women are the face of the organization is especially unique, McGuire added, particularly because of how the media portrays the Church. “[The] media would have you think that it’s sort of women versus the Church,” McGuire said. “When in fact, here we are, four women who love the Church and [have] committed our lives to promoting her values in the public square.”
Pozo Christie said she hopes TCA will grow and influence others. “I hope that we can become more influential and really be there when the conversation needs a faithful Catholic voice and needs beauty and truth and goodness to be present. I hope that we keep growing. We have a wonderful team of people with a lovely vision. A truly lovely vision. That’s my dream — that we keep growing and keep making our influence felt.”