Fashioning her pilgrimage: Religious education and the young adult mother

Patricia T Lipperini, Fordham University


Motherhood is often described as a potentially life-altering and transformative journey, offering women opportunities for personal enrichment and spiritual development. However, research winding through multiple disciplines, such as psychology, nursing, education, sociology and theology, note that the journey of motherhood is a complex experience. It can include feelings of fear, ambivalence, and loss of self as well as the profound joys associated with falling in love and caring for one’s child. Because the largest incidence of births occurs to women in the Millennial or late Generation X generations, this complex, potentially transformative experience occurs at a critical time in young adult women’s identity development, making it both the content and context of their quest to live a meaningful and integrated life. This qualitative study explores the essential role of religious education in fashioning a context in which young adult women might perceive their experiences of motherhood as an invitation to spiritual growth. It argues that the common use of the journey metaphor for motherhood is not adequate for the goal of educating young adult women towards spiritual and religious maturity. Journey often suggests a sense of purposeless or unmindful movement, which is antithetical to the nature of religious education. Rather, by recasting the journey metaphor into one of pilgrimage, young adult mothers’ experiences acquire both the notice and support of the Christian community. The study explores the intersection between pilgrimage wisdom and the forms of church life, identified by Maria Harris as koinonia, leiturgia, kerygma, didache, and diakonia, and suggests that the careful fashioning of these forms can support and enliven young women as they travel on the challenging path of motherhood.

Subject Area

Womens studies|Religious education|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Lipperini, Patricia T, "Fashioning her pilgrimage: Religious education and the young adult mother" (2015). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10014280.