A Female 2024 Graduate Responds to Harrison Butker


This year’s commencement speaker for Benedictine College, a small Catholic school in Atchison, Kansas, stirred up a heap of controversy from the media. Harrison Butker, a devout Catholic husband, father, and 3x Super Bowl champion kicker for the Kansas City Chiefs addressed the 2024 graduates with great humility and palpable depth. In his speech, Butker capitalized on the Catholic platform expressing his thoughts on a variety of pertinent matters, including seemingly the most controversial topic in the world today, the roles of men and women. Midway through the speech, Butker chose to address the female graduates directly, bringing to light the reality that while the women are about to cross the stage, be handed their diplomas, and start pursuing careers, they will not find true vocational fulfillment outside of the role of motherhood. This article is a response to Butker’s comments as a female college graduate of 2024 and a young Catholic woman discerning God’s will for my own life.

After congratulating the female graduates, Butker made it known that he wished to address the woman specifically because in his own words, he thinks, “It is you, the women, who have had the most diabolical lies told to you.” Butker cuts right to the heart of the matter in stating this. The reality he is bringing to light is not that women ought not to get a degree or pursue a career, but that this is not all there is. The diabolical lie that Butker is referring to is that motherhood is a lesser good that women can seek on their own terms only after they have felt satisfied in the world of careers. This satisfaction, however, is not lifegiving nor is it able to ever replace a vocation. Butker goes on to say, “I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world.” Using direct language, he actively defends the weight of motherhood and says what the world is afraid to.

As a recent 2024 college graduate, I find myself able to agree with Butker without denying the reality of the hard work I put into obtaining my degree. I find myself stirred to admiration. Butker is in no way dismissing the efforts of women. Rather, he is highlighting a title that no job could ever amount to: mother. From a Catholic point of view, it is understood that motherhood may mean natural motherhood or spiritual motherhood, but the root of his message lies in the fulfillment one receives from doing the will of God in their life. His statement does not subtract from the work the women have put into their studies but rather places everything into order and offers a greater perspective. Though it is meritorious to pour oneself into a good like a craft or career, there are higher goods such as raising children and making a home, that could never compare to the former, for life does not occur outside of the family, but only in and through the family. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Children are not a distraction from a more important work. They are the most important work.” In a post-modern, post-family society, Butker’s speech is nonsensical. It holds no value for a woman who has fallen victim to the lie that she can be more fulfilled in a work setting than in her home. While not all women are called to be natural mothers who nurture a physical home, the vocation to motherhood extends to all women in all its forms. Every woman is called to pour into a home of some sort, whether that be with four walls or not. It is women who have the unique gift of attending to the smallest things, beautifying a space, and nourishing the souls around them.

As a young Catholic woman pursuing my future path, whatever it may be, I can confidently say that it is my greatest desire to make a home, to love who is in front of me, and to bear life. Found in the Gospel of John 10:10, “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” Christ offers men and women the opportunity to live a life of purpose and fulfillment in and through the “vocation to love,” as St. Therese puts it. While men and women are called to embrace smaller vocations like careers, the only true fulfillment is found in the vocation to love and serve another. In the words of the Second Vatican Council in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church, Gaudium Et Spes, “Man cannot fully find himself, except through a sincere gift of himself.” I believe this message to be at the center of Butker’s address, that women will not find their greatest fulfillment outside of their greatest calling. Now is the time for the dignity and the weight of motherhood to be restored and made known throughout the world.