Help us fulfill our mission
Ever wondered how the Commission for Women was founded and what it has accomplished since its founding? And how you can help? Here is the latest “Concerning Women” column published in the March 14th issue of the Catholic Free Press. It was written by Susan Bailey.
In March of 1988, then Bishop Timothy Harrington made the decision to dissolve the Office for Women and Senate of Religious in favor of founding one group that would serve the needs of both lay and religious women. The two groups had been working on similar issues of exploring their faith and serving the needs of the community.
The result was the Commission for Women of the Diocese of Worcester.
Bishop Harrington spelled out the objectives of the Commission: to serve as a link between the Bishop and women of the diocese, to serve as a spiritual and social resource, to work in collaboration with other diocesan offices and groups, and to develop, sustain and support opportunities for women in the diocese.
Jesus taught us that the Kingdom of Heaven is here and we live it. We are one because of our baptism and because of the Eucharist of which we partake. The Commission is here to serve all women of the diocese no matter the age, race or station in life. We are one.
What has the Commission done thus far to fulfill its mission?
Behind the scenes, the Commission has devoted time to the study of women’s issues including the use of inclusive language in the liturgy, the problem of homelessness and lack of affordable housing for single women and children, the viability of the diaconate for women and the leadership qualities of women in the early Church.
Through their work with other offices and agencies, the Commission co-sponsored forums on housing with the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance and conducted interviews with Worcester pastors with regards to housing needs in conjunction with the Diocesan Commission for Peace, Justice and the Integrity of Creation. Along with Assumption College, the Commission co-sponsored talks by Catholic women writers.
Each year the Commission in conjunction with the Bishop has honored parish secretaries, office workers and bookkeepers with their annual Secretaries Day luncheon.
Perhaps the most visible sign of the work of the Commission has been its biennial “Gather Us In” women’s conference. A pioneering effort instituted in 2002 and held at the DCU Center, the conference has brought together thousands of women in fellowship and prayer over the years. Keynote speakers such as Immaculée Ilibagiza, Joyce Rupp and Paula D’Arcy have inspired many while workshops featuring dramatic reenactments of the Gospel, forums on service and talks on the spiritual life have nurtured the faith. Music, prayer and the celebration of liturgy have drawn the community together as one body.
Much has been accomplished yet more needs to be done. In order to continue fulfilling its mission, the Commission needs your voice.
What do you see as needs for women in the diocese? Do you feel connected with your Church, your parish community? Do you feel isolated as a busy young mother, college student, parental caregiver, elderly or someone who is new to this country and community? Do we know of each other, talk to one another, support one another?
Do you have gifts and talents you wish to offer to the diocese that perhaps are being overlooked? Perhaps there are gifts and talents that need to be drawn out.
Are there issues that you wish to discuss? Do you feel that women are being adequately served by our Church?
What can we as the Commission do for you? What can you do for the Commission? Do you feel a desire to serve your diocese as a member?
The Church teaches that we are one. What can we do to make this a greater reality in each of our lives?
Talk to us. Let us know what you desire from us and for the diocese. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if email is not your thing, write a letter to the editor.
Let’s talk. Let’s work together. Let’s live as one body.