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About the Writer

My name is Ellen, a cis woman living in Pittsburgh. My friends call me Ell, and my pronouns are she/her. I grew up in North Texas, but have lived in Pittsburgh for the past decade. 

Like most Christian kids, I had a very youthful understanding of Jesus, Christianity, and faith, crafted through a hodgepodge of Sunday Mass with my family, summer VBS, and attending Catholic school starting in kindergarten. Along with a Catholic education in a conservative area of Texas came a very... specific... approach to education. Sexuality was not discussed in school outside of the clinicality of biology class and female-shaming curriculum on post-sex "repercussions." I saw and held plastic renderings of fetuses before I saw and understood the female reproductive system. I learned that having premarital sex is akin to gifting my spouse a cup of chewed-up, spat-out Oreo cookie, before I learned that sex can be beautiful and affirming. I learned to fear sex and be ashamed of my body before I understood sex or loved my body.

In high school (all-girls Catholic), I began questioning my faith a lot. I saw more contradictions than concepts that made sense. Most questions I asked of my youth minister and theology teachers were answered with a simple, "Because" or "you have to have faith." I wanted to critically engage with theology and these conservative narratives, and it was uncomfortable to be expected to just blindly swallow ideas that seemed to exclude others. If God truly is Love, then why did so much of this rhetoric sound hateful and discriminatory?

Aside from the 48 hours I spent as a 17 year old thinking I wanted to be a nun, my young adulthood was spent in the zone of agnosticism. Around age 18, I coined the phrase "too relativistic to be anything" following diatribes from adults about the uncatholicness of relativism. From August 2011 through June 2020, I only went to Mass a handful of times.

During my application process to law school, I was enticed by the idea of attending a Catholic campus. I was being tugged toward spiritual reconnection. It wasn't until I met my current partner, though, that my journey back to the faith really began. A Catholic school teacher, he and some colleagues began praying the rosary when the pandemic began. I joined them, and the meditativeness grounded me. Over the past year, I have been reading about Catholic social justice teaching, progressive Catholic communities, the intersection of BLM and Catholicism, and the NCR and America online newsletters. I'm currently interested in examining and breaking down systems of white supremacy and patriarchy within the church (read: advocating for wholistic healthcare in lieu of just outlawing abortion; advocating for women's ordination; etc...).

With this backdrop, I'm diving back into Elefemme as a space to explore and unpack all of the above, as well as to provide information to both national and local resources to those of you who are feeling similarly called. I look forward to this journey with you all - and perhaps we'll affect some change along the way!

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