Almost 200 Catholic women from around the country gathered online on March 27 for a national consultation organised by the Bishops Commission for Evangelisation, Laity and Ministry.
Twenty-six Australian dioceses were represented at the event, with Archbishop Christopher Prowse, the chair of the Bishops Commission, and Bishop Michael Morrissey, the Bishop Delegate for Women, also taking part.
Bishop Morrissey said the discussions during the event will inform the development of the agenda for the “Catholic Women Gather” initiative planned for September 11.
“Often we can look at the big picture of the Catholic Church in Australia and be disappointed about what does not seem to happen, yet so much is happening in the local communities of faith around the Church in Australia,” Bishop Morrissey said.
“This clear message came to me listening to women’s stories from the many and varied communities around Australia.
“I saw there was a respect shown for the divergent views expressed and shared deeply by many women during the two hours. That for me as a bishop was an enriching experience of simply listening without judgement to the many and varied voices.”
The national consultation featured several reflections and testimonies provided by women from different locations and with unique experiences in pastoral ministry.
Bunbury Diocese’s Angela Gorman, who presented the event’s first reflection, said the consultation provided her with a great sense of hope for the future.
“It was a privilege to listen to the thoughts and reflections of so many women across Australia,” she said.
“Many women spoke of positive ways they are ministering in their local contexts, which was inspiring. However, others spoke of challenges, even despair at their local situation which has hindered their participation; this was disheartening to hear.
“Both perspectives are the reality. I felt a sense of hope though – the voice of the Spirit – as we supported one another with our honest sharing.”
The Bishops Commission expressed its sincere gratitude to the women who joined the consultation and shared openly.
The National Centre for Evangelisation will coordinate the “Catholic Women Gather” initiative in September. More information will be published in coming weeks.
With thanks to the ACBC.