In the month of Mary, a group of 30 women from all different walks of life came together in faith and fellowship at Catholic Youth Parramatta’s ‘At The Well’ gathering on Friday 12 May.
These gatherings, organised by Catholic Youth Parramatta, take place several times a year and invite young women into a deeper understanding of God through creating a safe space to explore their faith and issues that confront them.
Guest speaker Amy Vieira, a newly married woman who spent five-and-a-half years as a Missionary of God’s Love Sister, reflected on the upcoming theme of the 2023 World Youth Day – “Mary arose and went with haste” (Luke 1:39).
Focussing on ‘arose’ and ‘haste’, Amy told the women that through Baptism and Confirmation, they have all received the same fullness of Christ and the Holy Spirit that Mary received during the Annunciation. Now, said Amy, we are called to share the same Christ in our own ways with urgency.
“This urgency doesn’t imply ‘franticness’. We don’t have to do everything, we just have to do what Christ is calling you specifically to do,” she explained.
“We should ask God about our call every day of our life. We all have the same general call to holiness and to evangelise. He may be calling you to a specific vocation, but He will call you to something every single day.
“Be specific in vocally asking God ‘what is my call today?’” advised Amy. “Intentionally seek what that is and how you can bring Christ to others. You also need to listen to God, whether that be through reading the Bible, spending time in silence with God or seek wisdom from other people.”
A panel consisting of mother-of-four Philipa Caulfield, who mentors couples preparing for marriage and works with women experiencing trauma, Catholic Youth Parramatta Project Coordinator Genevieve Lee and Amy answered questions from the participants.
In reflecting on how to balance femininity with faith, Genevieve stressed the importance of the inherent dignity that all women have been given by God.
“There are so many different types of women that we encounter in the Bible. There’s almost a woman for every season and there’s a woman for every woman,” she said.
When asked about the ultimate goal of a woman of faith who also has career aspirations, Philipa said that the ultimate goal should be sanctification and holiness in life, no matter where that is lived.
“Where you are in your current stage of life – whether you’re a professional person, a mother with children at home, a student, single, married, in religious life – that is where you are called, that is your ultimate goal and that’s where it is acted out,” she said.
“You can find God and holiness in any place. Doing the very best job you can gives glory to God. Any work can be sanctified.
“By being a professional, by investing ourselves in our work and dedicating the correct time to work and doing the best we can, that gives glory to God and sanctifies us. And if you have further career aspirations, go do them – you’ve been given a gift, use that, because it gives glory to God.”
Philipa added that it is ok to reprioritise and reassess where you are called to be.
“What was right for our family five, 10, 15 years ago is different to what our family needs now. God has called me to marriage and to family life and that comes first and He will provide opportunities, either separate or together that we discern through the Holy Spirit. It’s important to ask but then to also listen.”
When asked about their biggest challenge on their journey with God, Amy spoke about the lukewarm times in her faith and the struggles coming down ‘from the mountain’.
“I think we have to be wholehearted in our faith. There’s a gift in having commitment in our prayer life and faith. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a bit of routine in your life with God. Be strict with that because when you’re feeling numb or not excited about your faith, you’re still committed.”
First-time attendee Mariah from Mary Immaculate Parish, Quakers Hill-Schofields, appreciated the opportunity to have honest conversations.
“Having this safe space with other women who are all different and all have different femininity, it’s nice to come together and it was very fruitful.”
Young women interested in further exploring and expressing their faith are invited to join the At the Well Facebook group and tune in to the At the Well Podcast via the Catholic Youth Parramatta channel on Spotify.
View images from the At the Well gathering here.