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New app builds community, faith formation for Catholic women

Leah Darrow
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Catholic speaker and writer Leah Darrow launches online apostolate.

If there’s one thing that’s become clear to Catholic speaker and writer Leah Darrow in her years working in evangelization, it’s that the Church and the world need to hear the voices and perspectives of Catholic women.

“Catholic women need to really know our faith, so we can share it with our kids, our friends, our spouses, even our priests if they’ve forgotten,” she says.

Finding time to dig deep into Church teaching is often difficult for women, however, particularly when their time is consumed with intense careers, raising little ones, looking after aged parents, and other demands. This is a struggle Darrow understands well: Besides hosting the popular Do Something Beautiful podcast and writing two books, her days are filled with raising her five young children.

“As a busy woman, as a mom, you may not be able to go to all the Bible studies, conferences, and retreats you want to go to, or read all the books you want to,” she says.

Darrow has pondered and prayed long and hard about bridging this disconnect. Her brilliantly 21st-century solution? An app that connects Catholic women not only with each other but with a wealth of resources for ongoing online faith formation.

“I felt in my heart that God was calling me to do something different to build solidarity between Catholic women, to build a network of faith and really be the women Christ is calling us to be,” she says. “I’m trying to use the technology available to us now to build that among women all over the world.”

The app, called Lux, offers three main components:

  • Prayer Members can join in live weekly prayer and Sunday gospel reflections led by chaplain Fr. Michael O’Loughlin, as well as regular recorded prayers and reflections based on the liturgical year
  • Community – This social section connects users with other Catholic women, including those in the same geographical areas, with the goal of building community and support
  • Lux University – An online Catholic formation program, described as an “on-demand, well-produced library of theology courses for the busy Catholic woman”

Women interested in the Lux app can choose between a less expensive “Basic” plan, accessing only the Prayer and Community sections, or the “Lux U” plan which includes the library of video courses.

The courses, Darrow says, are constantly available, “so you can go back to them as many times as you want—like a Catholic Netflix.”

This app may be best suited for women who lack strong spiritual support or access to religious formation in their local Catholic communities. A woman who enjoys a thriving women’s ministry at her parish, with Bible studies, retreats, and warm friendships with other Catholic women striving for holiness may not need to seek out these kinds of resources online. But in our fragmented and transitory modern world, so many women do lack access to these things—and for them, this app appears to be nothing short of a Godsend.

What’s it like to use the Lux app? Darrow describes how she uses Lux herself on a daily basis.

“I hop on the app in the morning to pray the Rosary with the ladies on there every morning, and get in some prayer time and spiritual reading before my kids wake up,” she says. “Then I work my way through the courses, watching a video or two during my kids’ naptime or after bedtime.”

“I’m on the app more than Instagram,” she laughs, “which is saying something!”

Besides the formation courses, the Lux community is another ongoing and ever-growing resource, Darrow says. Women often add new information to the app, such as Catholic news or tools that might benefit other members. And best of all, they share with each other their continued prayers.

“We’ve got women all over the world connecting with each other, sharing suffering, sharing loss, and praying for each other,” she says. “You often see women comment, ‘I’m going to adoration for you right now,’ or ‘I’m praying the Rosary or offering Mass for you right now.’”

These friendships embolden and strengthen women, who know that the prayers of their sisters in Christ surround and uplift them during turbulent times—making the community a powerful force for good. Yet as empowering as this community and its prayers can be, its greatest strength lies in its common mission.

“It’s not about connecting with other women just for the sake of knowing more Catholic women, but so we can all dive deeper in our relationship with Jesus Christ,” Darrow says. “We’re all in it together, growing closer to Him.”

In the few short months since Lux launched, Darrow has already seen it begin to change the lives of the women using it.

“So many women have said, ‘I had no idea this community would be this amazing, or how much it would help me in my prayer life,’” Darrow says. “Women who have never had a consistent prayer life are now praying the Rosary every day or the Divine Mercy Chaplet every Friday. Women have come back to the sacraments. Sister Miriam James has a course on surrender and trust in Jesus, and so many women have said it’s transformed their relationship with Christ. That’s the foundation of why we’ve done this.”

Darrow shared a particularly moving story of the Holy Spirit working through the app. A Catholic woman was in the hospital in a critical situation: She was pregnant and had gone into labor dangerously early, at only 20 weeks gestation. One of her nurses happened to be Catholic, and told her about the Lux app. From her hospital bed, the mother found Lux and shared her story with the community there.

“We all began praying for her and praying for her baby,” Darrow said.

Tragically, the little one did not survive. In the darkest moment a mother could face, losing her precious child, the Lux community rallied around her with continuing prayers.

“If my app was only available for that one nurse and that one mom, I can go to sleep at night knowing that every minute I’ve spent on this was worth it,” Darrow said. “I can’t imagine going through that, but I’m so grateful we could be there for her and journey with her, as we should.”

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