In the month of Mary, a group of diverse young women from across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains gathered for a ‘girls night in.’
But instead of sharing beauty tips, they shared stories of faith during Catholic Youth Parramatta’s (CYP) At The Well – An evening with Young Women, which was held on Friday 24 May in Blacktown.
Building on from last year’s event, At The Well was a chance for young women to speak openly about issues relevant to them, including faith, careers, relationships, ministry and vocation.
The evening started with fellowship over canapes.
Local writer and artist Joy Adan began the formalities with a prayer and reflection on the Gospel reading which the night was based on – Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well (Jn 4).
Qwayne Guevara, Local Engagement Leader, CYP, then lead a panel with Sr Rosie Drum mgl, Assistant Director, CYP, and three guest speakers – Maria Pastoors, Monica Doumit and Alannah Hader.
Maria Pastoors is a mother of three young children living in Orange and served in youth ministry for a decade in the Diocese of Parramatta before marriage.
Monica Doumit is the Director, Public Affairs and Engagement, for the Archdiocese of Sydney and is a writer for the Catholic Weekly.
Alannah Hader is a high school student leader at Caroline Chisholm College and was a World Youth Day 2019 Panama pilgrim.
In response to questions posed by young women across the diocese, the panel spoke from their own experiences about femininity, the role of women in the church, relationships and vocation.
One attendee described At The Well as “intimate and joyful” and said “the panel selected was very good, bringing a diverse group of women and therefore different perspectives on different topics.”
Attendee Kathy Acido said “I think the chosen topics were very relevant to a lot of what young women are questioning or experiencing now. The perspectives of each panellist helped significantly with rounding out answers.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to attend. Being able to see like-minded women in our diocese who are all striving to be great women of the church is not only a blessing but also a privilege to be a part of.
“I thank Sister Rosie and also Qwayne for help facilitate and organise this event! It’s definitely something I would love to be a part of next time!”
Qwayne Guevara said that events like At The Well help young women as journeying in the faith is not always easy.
“At The Well was inspired by conversations with young people in the diocese. With the success of the first At The Well in the Year of Youth last year, we decided to do it all again knowing that these nights bring together young women in a welcoming space.
“The night was rich with conversations sparked by questions to the panel about the role of women in the Church and society, Mary’s example as inspiration for day to day living, contraception and natural family planning and relationships. The women left feeling inspired and energised by the honesty and truth expressed.
“It’s important to create opportunities like At The Well because journeying in the faith is not always easy. As Pope Francis mentioned at World Youth Day in Panama – we must cultivate the roots that enable young people to dream. These roots are family, education, work and community. We believe we are meeting the need to build a community here where hard questions can be asked and the women feel empowered to live out their purpose authentically and boldly when they leave,” she said.