Voices that Challenge
In recent weeks, the global Mary Ward network has been inspired by the leadership of our Sisters calling for the dignity and rights of all people in our church and world.
CJ and IBVM Sisters gathered in Rome in September to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the foundation of Talitha Kum, the anti-trafficking network auspiced by the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) to bring together religious women and men from all over the world under an umbrella-like network. The 86 delegates of women religious (with some consecrated men) gathered from 48 countries to recognize the work already accomplished and celebrate survivors they have known and helped. Together, they met the Pope, who applauded their work; learned best practices from one another; provided emotional support, while bonding over a challenging ministry; and looked ahead with a deliberate plan, taking what they have learned over past years to set new goals. In describing Talitha Kum’s anti-trafficking work, Sr Pat Murray ibvm used the biblical image of a large tent, noting “its flexibility, enlargement, unbonded hospitality, rootedness, security and identity. I believe in stretching wide our curtains. We have to ask ourselves, ‘What more can we do’ or ‘What more can we do at a deeper level?’ “
Soon after the Talitha Kum meeting, Sr Christine Burke ibvm participated in a forum in Rome addressing the role of women in decision-making forums within the Catholic church. Hosted by Voices of Faith, this event coincided with the opening of the Pan Amazonian Synod which, among other topics, explored lay leadership in the Catholic church. Chris’s topic – It’s Our Responsibility Too – Catholics Cannot Wait Any Longer – drew deep inspiration from Mary Ward’s life and spirit and the experience of discernment and action of women of faith across the centuries. As Chris reflected:
Anyone who seeks to change an entrenched culture cannot expect an easy ride. But then, changing a religious culture was Jesus’ task also, and he did not have an easy ride!
The Province congratulates Stephanie Lorenzo (Loreto Normanhurst past pupil and current board member) on the successful organisation of this challenging and inspirational event.
Finally, with the global Mary Ward network we delight in the appointment of Kenyan Loreto Sister, Teresia Wamuyu Wachira ibvm, to the post of Co-President of Pax Christi International. Sr Wamuyu, a professor of peace and conflict studies at St. Paul’s University in Nairobi, has been working with Pax Christi’s Kenyan member groups for years and previously served a term on the international organization’s board. Pax Christi promotes a culture of nonviolence in the light of the Gospel and supports the implementation of alternative strategies at all levels that banish violence and make encounter and dialogue prevail. During 2019, Pax Christi urged the church “to bring nonviolence from the periphery of Catholic thought on war and peace to the centre — to mainstream nonviolence as a spirituality, lifestyle, a program of societal action, and a universal ethic.” During her co-presidency, Sr Wamuyu would like to focus on the continuing conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians, violence in Sudan, and the provocative threats between Iran and the U.S. over Iran’s nuclear program.
Our tradition has always held prayer and action in balance. Let us continue to be inspired by all followers of Jesus, Mary Ward and Ignatius as we exercise faith-focussed leadership in all areas of our life and work. With friends of Mary Ward everywhere may we ‘love and speak the truth at all times.’