Dawn Eden Goldstein is the first woman to receive a canonical doctorate from the University of St. Mary of the Lake.

Dawn Eden Goldstein, the grand-niece of the famous American poet Alma Denny, graduated last Saturday with a doctorate in sacred theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake. The doctorate will enable her to teach aspiring priests and mentor women called to the service of the Church. Goldstein holds the distinction as being the first woman ever to earn a sacred theology doctorate from the University.

Goldstein receiving the doctorate comes at a time when Pope Francis is pushing to raise the role of women in Catholic Church. Amoris Laetitia, Pope's recent apostolic exhortation, has mentions of the Holy Father praising some aspects of woman's liberation.

One of the main challenges for women when it comes to accepting the Pope's invitation to lead is overcoming the suspicion of them altering the teachings of the Church from within. According to Goldstein, she is not rooting for the ordination of women, neither is she condemning celibacy. She pursued the degree with the intention of guiding and helping young men and women on their path to serve the Church.

Goldstein's path to spiritual fulfillment in the Catholic Church has been a shaky one. She was born to a Reform Jewish household. In 1981, while preparing for her bat mitzvah, the rabbi preparing her for the ceremony told her that some of the questions she asked him about Torah belonged to scholars, and not 13-year old girls. This put her in a defensive mode, and her connection with God started to strain. Goldstein's parents got divorced when she was five.

At that time, she accused a synagogue staff member of abusing her sexually. The rabbi refused to believe her and dismissed her allegation. Years later, according to Goldstein, she was abused a second time by a person close to her mother. This left her emotionally wounded. In 1989, Goldstein graduated from New York University with a degree in communication.

For the next 10 years, she worked as an author and a journalist. Frustrated with life, and suffering suicidal depression, Goldstein eventually found Jesus Christ. She was baptized at a Seventh-day Adventist church. In 2002, she launched her own blog titled, The Dawn Patrol.

Through the blog, she expressed her opinion regarding abortion rights and in-vitro fertilization. In 2007, Goldstein enrolled in a master's theology program at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC. Prompted by a priest there, she started her path towards the doctorate in sacred theology in 2010.

Pope Francis's statements on women have been, and are, an inspiration to Goldstein. According to Goldstein, the Pope's recent statement about how women could and should help prepare men for the priesthood shows his respect for women and his strong belief about what women could offer the Church.

According to Rabbi Jennifer Goldstein Lewis, sister of Dawn Eden Goldstein, her sister will be a powerful force in the Church.

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