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Catholic Womens’ Council – Newsletter Easter 2021

Dear friends,

Warm Easter Greetings of Joy and Hope!

Hope! as our Church cries out for change and growth. Joy! because this is testified to by the multitude of organizations and groups that have sprung up globally over the last fifty years to work for the full dignity and equality of women in the Catholic church. The time is ripe for a network to help bring together diverse groups from around the world on a common platform to facilitate communication and build community amongst our growing numbers. Catholic Women’s Council (CWC) was created to fulfil that role.

The recent rapid and exciting growth of membership in CWC during the time of pandemic has meant that we must adapt in order to better serve our membership and respond to the shifting landscape of the Church and the world. This newsletter serves both to let our members know where we are, and to reach out for input in determining where we go from here, particularly in terms of governance.

We wish to emphasize that CWC has been conceived as a network where all member organizations will have a voice. One of our most pressing concerns as we continue to grow is that we determine collectively how leadership will be provided in a way that is just and inclusive. In this newsletter we wish to provide you with a look back to how we arrived here as a preamble to looking ahead to our next steps.

In this newsletter we will address the following points:

  • The Synodal Event for 2022
  • A brief herstory of the formation of CWC
  • An explanation of the current structure of the organization
  • Some discussion points around future structure of the executive
  • Administration (how to reach the executive, etc)
  • Communication Policy

Update on the Synodal Event for 2022

While we are retaining the overall theme of Pilgrimage (our initial vision was that CWC would promote a pilgrimage of reflection, study and activities leading towards a Women’s Synod in Rome in 2021), we are exploring how best to build on our hopeful beginnings to develop a global forum for engagement, dialogue and shared activities and resources among Catholic groups around the world campaigning for women’s full equality and dignity in Church and society. This change has been necessitated by the uncertainties thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic.

We are excited already by the many activities and events our members are engaging in despite the restrictions and changes to our lives! We welcome your stories and invite groups affiliated with the CWC to promote their activities and resources through our website. Please email our CWC Admin Assistant, <info@catholicwomenscouncil.org> with any announcements, information or events that you would like us to promote, as well as any resources that might be useful for other member groups. The CWC logo may be used only for events promoted by CWC. If you wish to use it for your own events please get a clearance from the Executive. We encourage you to contact any of the executive members with ideas, questions, suggestions and concerns.

On the website you will also find the logos of all our members. We are here to support each other and network so we invite you to contact each other as well.

Thank you for all the work you are doing, and for sharing it with all of us!

Herstory of the CWC Executive Group

In November 2019 Voices of Faith (VOF) initially took steps towards creating the concept of CWC alongside German speaking groups. With a cohort of representatives of global groups in January 2020 CWC was formed as an umbrella organisation for different Catholic groups and networks around the world. The overall theme of women’s dignity and equality was the motivation and inspiration for our diverse projects and campaigns. Dignity and Equality form the logo of CWC.

Voices of Faith (VoF) generously provided support and funding during the initial stages of establishing and promoting CWC, for which we are very grateful. VoF appointed a temporary Executive Group in November 2020 to oversee this process, with the agreement that after six months the Executive Group would be reviewed and processes for election to the Executive would be agreed. The first members were selected on the basis of their representation of existing Catholic groups and networks, their international profile and diversity of representation, as well as their early involvement in promoting CWC through various activities and projects.

In January 2021 Voices of Faith decided, in order to function as an umbrella organisation, CWC should not be too closely identified with any one of its members. Voices of Faith therefore relinquished their leadership role in order to make space for others. An independent Executive with overall responsibility for CWC was created for this transition. With the generous funding provided by a donor we appointed an Admin Assistant. This has meant some juggling and rearranging of our timetables, plans and structures, which had of course already been affected by the pandemic.

As more groups have joined and interest in CWC is building, a structure must now be implemented in order to make sure our work continues in a way that is timely, and creative. Three new members from Chile, Mexico and Canada have been added to facilitate the growth of CWC in these parts of the Americas, and to help with the work of implementing a process for electing future executive members.

In the coming weeks, we will be reaching out to you for input on how best to move forward with the selection of future executive members. We will be interested in any thoughts you may have on this and invite you to take time now to reflect on the issue. Concerns such as regional representation, and the practicalities of election will need to be addressed. We look forward to hearing from you, and are eager to move to the next step.

The current executive group itself have at least two monthly Zoom meetings to discuss and decide the way ahead for CWC.

CWC Regional Representatives / Coordinators 

We welcome nominations for regional representatives and coordinators from any of our CWC affiliated groups. We continue to organise Zoom meetings around the theme of pilgrimage, with a provisional plan for a Synod in March 2022. Regional coordinators are encouraged to organise pilgrimage activities in their regions under the CWC umbrella, to promote CWC in their regions and to be contact persons for groups and initiatives already active there.

Please email any events/activities you organise to info@catholicwomenscouncil.org so that we can add them to the CWC website.

Executive Group Members:

CWC Executive

Country

Tina Beattie

United Kingdom

Tracy McEwan

Australia

Catherine Cavanagh

Canada

Nontando Hadebe

South Africa

Paola Lazzarini 

Italy

Maria Mesrian

Germany

Virginia Saldanha

India

Franziska Zen Ruffinen 

Switzerland

Karen Castillo

Mexico

Carolina del Rio

Chile

Communication with affiliated groups of CWC

To promote communication with members of CWC, we propose to meet each other at zoom meetings from time to time. All members of affiliated groups are welcome to attend these zoom meetings, to discuss plans, initiatives and the way ahead.

We will send the schedule of these meetings to you shortly.

Contact List for CWC Groups

To facilitate the circulation of ideas, programs and inspirations we would like to create a google group with email addresses of all members of CWC. This will help every email sent to cwc@googlegroups.com to be forwarded to your members. You can always unsubscribe from these emails whenever you want.

Communications Policy

Since CWC is a Network, we will not issue any statements. However we welcome our member organizations to send us your statements on various issues which will be promoted as long as they meet the criteria of our mission and vision.

The Executive will communicate with our member groups periodically through a newsletter.

Member groups are welcome to communicate with us using the CWC email info@catholicwomenscouncil.org sharing information about their programmes and initiatives, especially if you wish to open them up to other members of our network.

Please remember that the CWC is a coalition with Catholic groups from across the world – meaning each country has their own unique sets of challenges, societal norms and cultural understandings, hence as a network we would like all to grow in sensitivity, acceptance and understanding of these differences. We are thrilled by the potential of this network to bring us together and offer opportunities for growth and understanding. Together, we can strive to be the Church we envision for our world.

THANK YOU

The Executive Team of Catholic Women’s Council

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