SPRINGVILLE, Utah — A love of drawing and an affinity for the art of doodling led Gabby Gauchay to an unexpected calling as well as recognition in The Catholic Woman, the quarterly magazine of the National Council of Catholic Women.
Gauchay, 28, began doodling pictures of the saints after she and her husband, Jon, began a daily study of the saints as part of their prayer life.
She hesitates to describe the “faceless caricatures of saints” as art. “I call them Saintly Doodles,” she said.
However, these doodles now appear in the 2022 calendar produced by the Wasatch Deanery Council of Catholic Women in the Diocese of Salt Lake City.
Proceeds from the calendar help fund membership dues for parish women’s groups in the deanery who are struggling to raise funds. The calendar came about after council president Nancy Reading asked Gauchay if they could use her images of the saints for fundraising.
This timeline led to Gauchay, a member of the parish of St. Francis of Assisi, and his work was featured as the cover story for the March issue of The Catholic Woman. This came after the calendars caught the eye of National Council of Catholic Women President Pat Voorhes at the Salt Lake Diocesan Catholic Women’s Council convention last September.
Voorhes decided she wanted Gauchay featured in the magazine.
“We’ve been trying to encourage young women to join NCCW for a while now,” Voorhes told Intermountain Catholic, Salt Lake City’s diocesan newspaper.
“When I saw Gabby’s calendar, spoke with her, and realized that she was the president of Saint Francis of Assisi (women’s group) and very involved in CCW, I immediately thought that she should definitely be one of our cover girls. She’s quite the artist,” Voorhes said.
One of Gauchay’s earliest designs was that of Our Lady of Fatima; she has since extended it to many others, including the patron saint of her parish.
For each image, she draws the doodle on paper, then scans it into the computer and colors it digitally. She posts the images on Instagram, where she was surprised by the number of her followers, and also makes them into prayer cards, which she distributes at church and in the confirmation classes she teaches.
“I love printing them. That’s my favorite thing, seeing them come to life,” she said.
A Catholic by birth, Gauchay moved with her family to Orem, Utah, from northern California when she was in fifth grade.
Used to being around other Catholics, she was surprised by some of the experiences she had in her new community, where the predominant religion is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
One of her earliest memories in Utah proudly wore a nice pair of dangling earrings to school, only to have a boy ask her in contempt why she wore crosses on her ears.
“It was a pivotal moment in my life when I asked myself, ‘Why do I wear crosses; why does my faith recognize that; what can i say, how can i teach someone who is not open to teaching? “, did she say.
Now Gauchay is president of her parish’s Catholic Women’s Council, Les Femmes de Saint-François. She is thrilled with this new role. In her early years at Orem, she wanted to attend a Catholic youth group so she would have a place to go on Wednesday nights, just like her Latter-day Saint friends, she said.
“Now I am grateful. I have this community,” she said. “I have a community that I have always dreamed of. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to serve the women and the community that have served me so well growing up.
She has been involved in catechism classes since her own confirmation. She also taught first communion and religion classes in first grade.
“Then somehow I landed on teenagers, and that’s really the passion of my life,” said Gauchay, who for the past five years has taught classes of confirmation from his parish.
The Holy Spirit let her know that the teenagers needed her, she said, adding, “I know what it’s like growing up here in the Utah Valley as a Catholic.” .
“It’s hard to be in the minority with something so important to you, your religion,” she said. “I feel like growing up here in Utah, it will strengthen your faith or it will break your faith. From a young age, I was really in tune with my faith because I wanted to answer the questions that people asked me.
“I want to give this gift, the knowledge of their faith, why they are here, to these children as well,” she said.