Since its small beginnings in early 2014, Catholic Women Speak has grown into a worldwide network of advocacy for women’s full participation and representation in the Church. Early on, we decided that we would seek engagement with Synods of Bishops, in response to Pope Francis’s opening up of the Church to dialogue and lay participation. We published a collection of writings by women, Catholic Women Speak: Bringing Our Gifts to the Table (Paulist Press, 2015) which was distributed free to all participants in the Synod Hall at the October 2015 Synod of Bishops on The Family. The book was launched on the Feast of St Thérèse of Lisieux—1st October 2015—at an international one-day conference held at the Pontifical University Antonianum in Rome.
We repeated this exercise for the 2018 Synod of Bishops on Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment. Our second collection of writings was titled Visions and Vocations (Paulist Press, 2018). This too was distributed free of charge in the Synod Hall and launched at a conference at the Pontifical University Antonianum on the Feast of St Thérèse.
We are now gathering resources and ideas for all our members and friends to contribute to the consultative process ahead of the 2023 Synod. We begin by sharing some of the images from our gatherings over the last six years. In addition to our two events in Rome, we have had study days and workshops, and we have partnered with Ursuline High School for Girls in Wimbledon, London, to encourage young women to engage with their Catholic faith in creative and critical ways. We have studied and learned together, we have shared our frustrations, fears and hopes, we have feasted, prayed, marched, protested, danced, laughed and wept together. We have had run-ins with the Italian police and some of us have been banned by bishops and the CDF.
But we go forward in hope, and we invite you to share the journey with us.