By Linda Petersen
SPRINGVILLE, Utah — A love of drawing and an affinity for the art of doodling has led Gabby Gauchay to an unexpected vocation as well as recognition in The Catholic Woman, the quarterly magazine of the National Council of Catholic Women.
Gauchay, 28, began doodling images of the saints after she and her husband, Jon, began a daily study of the saints as part of their prayer life.
She is hesitant to describe the “faceless, cartoons of saints” as art. “I call them Saintly Doodles,” she said.
However, those doodles are now featured 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 affiliate dues for parish women’s groups in the deanery that struggle to come up with the funds. The calendar came about after the council’s president, Nancy Reading, asked Gauchay if they could use her images of the saints for the fundraiser.
That calendar led to Gauchay, a member of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, and her work being featured as the cover story for the March issue of The Catholic Woman. This came about after the calendars caught the eye of the president of the National Council of Catholic Women, Pat Voorhes, while at the Salt Lake Diocesan Council of Catholic Women convention last September.
Voorhes decided she wanted Gauchay to be featured in the magazine.
“For the last little while, we have been trying to encourage younger women to join NCCW,” Voorhes told the Intermountain Catholic, Salt Lake City’s diocesan newspaper.
“When I saw Gabby’s calendar, and I spoke with her and realized that she was the president of the St. Francis of Assisi (women’s group) and very involved in CCW, I immediately thought she should definitely be one of our cover girls. She is quite the artist,” Voorhes said.
One of the first drawings Gauchay did was of Our Lady of Fatima; she since has expanded that to numerous others, including the patron saint of her parish.
For each image, she sketches the doodle on paper, then scans it into the computer and colors it digitally. She posts the images on Instagram, where she has been surprised by the size of her following, and also makes them into prayer cards, which she hands out at church and in the confirmation classes she teaches.
“I love to print them out. That’s my favorite thing, to see them come alive,” she said.
A cradle Catholic, Gauchay moved with her family to Orem, Utah, from Northern California when she was in the fifth grade.
Used to being surrounded by 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 was proudly wearing a beautiful pair of dangling cross earrings to school, only to have a boy scornfully ask why she was wearing crosses on her ears.
“That was a pivotal point in my life where I asked myself, ‘Why do I wear the crosses; why does my faith recognize that; what can I say, how can I teach someone who is not open to being taught?'” she said.
Now Gauchay is president of her parish’s Council of Catholic Women, the Women of St. Francis. She is thrilled with this new role. In her early years in Orem, she wanted to attend a Catholic youth group to have somewhere to go on Wednesday nights, just like her Latter-day Saints friends, she said.
“Now I’m grateful. I have this community,” she said. “I have a community I have always longed for. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to serve the ladies and the community that so well served me growing up.”
She has been involved with the catechism classes since her own confirmation. She also has taught first Communion and first-grade religion classes.
“Then somehow I landed on the teenagers, and that truly is the passion of my life,” said Gauchay, who for the last five years has taught her parish’s confirmation classes.
The Holy Spirit let her know that she was needed by the teenagers, she said, adding, “I know what it’s like to grow up here in Utah Valley as a Catholic.”
“It is hard being in the minority with something so important to you, your religion,” she said. “I feel like growing up here in Utah, it will make your faith or it will break your faith. At an early age I was really in tune with my faith because I wanted to answer the questions that were being asked of me.”
“I want to give that gift, the knowledge of their faith, why they are here, to these kids too,” she said.