Empowering the next generation of female Catholic leaders

9 March 2020
Young women are seen during a panel at the 2019 Australian Catholic Youth Festival in Perth. Image: Mary Brazell/Diocese of Parramatta.


Whether she is funding projects to build toilets in remote villages in Palu, or coordinating interfaith dialogue in Bandung, Indonesia, Natalia Teguhputri is at the frontier of building a better world for humanity.

A young Catholic woman originally from Indonesia, Natalia co-founded a movement called The Waterjars, an organisation that works with non-profit organisations and charities to help fund projects relating to health, education and youth.

“I have always been fascinated by the intersection of commerce, faith, and mission. I started a movement called The Waterjars with a colleague with the goal of helping to fund community developments projects,” Natalia said. “Although I understand the numbers and logistics of our projects, I have struggled with the theology side. This is why I chose to pursue further academic study in this area.”

Melbourne woman Natalia Teguhputri. Image: ACBC/Supplied.

Natalia enrolled in ‘Leadership for Mission’, a specialised program developed by Australian Catholic University’s (ACU)’s Faculty of Theology and Philosophy in partnership with the National Office for the Participation of Women, Catholic Mission and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

Leadership for Mission is designed by and for women who are inspired by the Gospel vision of justice, freedom and the dignity of the human person, and brings the leadership experiences of women within the Church together within the context of an academic and collaborative learning environment.

Framed by an engagement with scripture, theology, spirituality and leadership, the program encourages participants to reflect on their faith within the context of our contemporary world. The program invites participants to explore how and in what ways their personal mission and vocation can contribute to a vision of leadership for the church that promotes equity, equality, and reconciliation.

The 12 young women who are participating in the Leadership for Mission program. Image: ACBC.

“Through our projects, I sense there is a God aspect in the practical needs of the community; the need for water to wash is parallel with the need for cleansing the heart from stain due to broken relationships; the need for a proper toilet is related to the dignity of the human being; and the need for everyone to be respected and to belong,” Natalia said.

Natalia graduated from Leadership for Mission in January this year and will now head to Assisi for the international event, Economy of Francesco.

Executive Dean of the ACU Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, Professor Dermot Nestor, said, “Natalia is a fantastic ambassador for the Leadership in Mission program and for all of its participants: past, current and future. Her many achievements, founded upon a profound, reflective and Christ-centred disposition are illustrative of the overarching learning outcome that defines this course and for all who share in it: women do lead.”

Leadership for Mission has been acknowledged by the Vatican as promoting “best practice” in Lay Formation and was recognised as the “stand-out” offer in Australia to help develop a new generation of Catholic leaders. The two-year, part-time program is structured across four residential sessions and supported through ACU’s online learning management system.

The next Leadership for Mission program will commence in March 2020. For more information about future courses, visit: https://women.catholic.org.au/projects/leadership-for-mission

With thanks to ACU.


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