What is it that you like about Newman Hall-Holy Spirit parish? What keeps you coming? Is it attending a good liturgy with prayerful music, a thoughtful homily, and a chance to mix during donuts and coffee afterward? More than this, are you hoping to make friends, to grow spiritually and intellectually, to find a real community where you can share your joys as well as your sorrows, your beliefs as well as your doubts in a setting of mutual acceptance?
In our parish, we have a wonderful venue for women of all ages to share experiences of faith and to build a vibrant spiritual community. Women in Conversation (WiC), co-founded in 2011 by Kaya Oakes and Jean Molesky-Poz, offers opportunities to consider theology, scripture and spirituality from women’s perspectives, deepen prayer and discernment practices, and to support one another.
We meet bi-monthly on the second Saturday, September to June. Not only are we treated to lectures, small group discussions and prayer, but we value getting to know each other over coffee and snacks, making friends with women of diverse ages and backgrounds. At a meeting, participants can number from thirty to sixty women.
Over the course of nine years, Women in Conversationhas considered topics such as “Women Seeking the Sacred” and “Transitions: From Who We are to Who We Are Called to Become,” as well as inquiring into more public roles of Catholic women’s leadership, including women’s ordination. Feminist biblical scholars have examined overlooked stories of women in the Bible with us and provided skills to reconstruct biblical history in which women were central and active agents. Muslim women dialogued with us on their faith, and undocumented mothers shared their stories, as have women ministering to girls who have been sex trafficked. We inform one another of needed social actions that reflect Catholic social teaching.
In an earlier session, women students led the group through a meditation on the visit of the young pregnant Mary who “set out with haste to a Judean town in the hill country” to stay with her aunt for three months (Luke 1:39). In small groups of students and regular parishioners, we asked, “What can we, as women of faith, learn from one another across the generations here at Newman?” Students said they were glad to “get out of their bubble;” a parishioner said to the students, “I am amazed at the depth of your spirituality, your freshness,” reflecting thoughts of many. We also sponsored a treasured event, “Women Resting in the House of God” an all-night vigil, praying and resting together in the quiet of the candle-lit chapel until daybreak.
As in the early church, we are women “of the Way,” searching, desiring to build a beloved, inclusive community. In Spring 2019, Sandra Schneiders, I.H.M., S.T.D. Professor Emerita from Jesuit School of Theology opened our eyes to the early church in the Gospel of John: “A Response for Renewal Thinking of the Church Jesus Brought to Us.” And in June, Elizabeth Johnson C.S.J. in her lecture, Your One Wild and Precious Life: Women on the Road of Ministry,advocated for “courage and hope,” that women’s voices and wisdom be recognized in the Church
Our next event is September 14th,and one of our favorite biblical scholars, Gina Hens-Piazza of the Jesuit School of Theology, presents: Silence Breakers: Woman Zion and the #Me Too Movement: Lamentations 2:20-22 as Path to Resilience. All women are welcome -- students to boomers -- that we might dialogue across generations and enrich one another in faith and our experience of the Living God.
This was brought to you by the Women in Conversation planning team. For more information contact Peg Bogle at email@example.com.