Parramatta Consultation Session: Opportunities and barriers to women’s participation in the Catholic Church
On June 21, 2018 Catholic women from the Diocese of Parramatta were given the chance to share their views on the opportunities and barriers to their participation in the Catholic Church at ‘Catholic Women Speak.’ Organised by the Council for Australian Catholic Women, this special consultation session saw Western Sydney Catholics gather at Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta for the session which kicked off with a special presentation by Dr Cristina Gomez about Women in Church History.
This consultation was open to all women of all ages who identify as Catholic including those who may feel disconnected from Parish life. Data from the National Church Life Survey shows that the typical Mass attender is likely to be female, older and born overseas. The Council’s objective for running the session was to hear from a range of women about their experience of belonging to the Catholic Church. Women who were unable to be present are invited to complete an online survey to ensure that their views are heard. (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ParraWomen).
The Council is an advisory group to the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and was established to ensure that the dignity of women is honoured and their gifts are given space to flourish for the sake of the Church’s life and mission. Major initiatives of the Council include Leadership for Mission which develops the leadership capacity of women aged 25- 35 years and a triannual Colloquium to bring women to together from across Australia for input and conversation. The Council also supports Catholic Women’s Mentoring which aims to foster the empowerment of all Australian Catholic women.
Andrea Dean, Director of the Office for the Participation of Women said “While we cannot make immediate changes to the Church or take away the pain of women who have been hurt by the Church, research and experience shows us the people appreciate being heard and being taken seriously. When people feel ignored and excluded it impacts on morale and wellbeing. Ultimately the evidence we gather is passed on the leaders of the Catholic Church in an effort improve the inclusiveness and diversity of the Church.”
Coordinator of Catholic Women’s Mentoring, Christine Pace, says the event was a great success: “We were delighted to co-host this incredibly important event, facilitating a vital conversation for Catholic women in Western Sydney. It’s critical that women’s views and experiences are heard.”
Supporters of Catholic Women Speak Parramatta included the Diocese of Parramatta, Catholic Women’s Mentoring and their annual partner Australian Catholic Superannuation and Retirement Fund and Catholic Women’s Mentoring’s event partner WN Bull Funerals.
With thanks to the ACBC.