Representatives of WUCWO with Pope Francis on June 11, 2022 Representatives of WUCWO with Pope Francis on June 11, 2022  (ANSA)

World Women's Observatory: Making the Invisibles visible

The World Women's Observatory of the World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations presents the results of its Listening and Networking projects, calling for more formation opportunities for women and study of the question of the diaconate for women.

By Sr. Francine-Marie Cooper, ISSM

“We decided to create an observatory because we wanted to make the most vulnerable women visible,” according to Mónica Santamarina, General President of World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations (WUCWO). The union set up the World Women's Observatory (WWO) in 2021 to address precisely that goal.

It is the only global observatory of the Catholic Church currently in operation, focused on the voice of women.

Online conversations in the Spirit

In an interview with Vatican News, Mónica Santamarina offered several insights into the experience and the results of the first online “Conversations in the Spirit” that are linked to the Synod on synodality.

The conversations were a “great experience,” Ms. Santamarina said. “We started last year inviting women at the diocesan, national, or continental level that were participating [in the Synod on synodality].”

“We had some webinars, and they shared their experience and what they thought was needed in the second phase [of the Synod],” she added.

Ms. Santamarina explained how the WWO set up a “School of Synodality” in order to “start training our people in the conversations in the spirit, in discerning.”

The president of the WUCWO expressed her belief that synodality shows the way the Church should be, and that it is the way “in which women will participate more fully with all [their] charism and capacities.”

The online conversations in the spirit took place with almost 800 women from around the world. Ms. Santamarina recalled that it was a “complicated issue and in different languages.”

The results of these conversations were presented on Wednesday in Rome.

Diaconate, participation and formation for women

Ms. Santamarina shared some of the preliminary results that were discussed during the conversations in the spirit, and that have been sent to the Secretary of the Synod.

“Some women are convinced of diaconate, the diaconate for women, and they would like it to be a new ministry,” she explained. “That's some women, not all of them,” she added. “Most of the women are convinced that this has to be studied and considered.”

Women are also in need of more formation, according to the results of the first meetings. The School of Synodality is one way of offering this training.

Participation is another important point. Ms. Santamarina said, “we believe it's something to work with bishops, men, and seminaries because it is a change that has to come from the heart, from everybody.”

Ms. Santamarina spoke of the great work that women do within the Church around the world, especially on the African continent.

“I know what [women] do in Africa; I've been in so many places where women give their lives, they give their money, they give everything to help people to evangelize,” she said.

Listen to the interview with Monica Santamarina

Networking in Africa

Together at the interview with the president of WUCWO was also Sr. Maureen Adhiambo Ogunde, an educator and formator in Nairobi who is involved as a community manager in the Africa project.

“As a community manager of World Women Observatory, my responsibility is to try to do a lot of networking,” Sr. Maureen explained. She described how she and her team try to bring together Catholic women who are active in their local Churches, as well as women religious.

The impact of the women and their service increases when they work together, Sr. Maureen said.

She coordinates the work of the WWO in English-speaking parts of Africa.

She explained how the “best way to collaborate is to try to network with different organizations and different congregations.” The WWO unites women who are experts in different fields and who then can help other women, Sr. Maureen added.

Listening to the stories of women has had an impact on the Kenyan sister. “Sometimes I am moved, and I want to do more and more, and this motivates me every day,” she said. 

Listen to the interview with Sr. Maureen Adhiambo Ogunde

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29 May 2024, 15:12