Hope and Courage
By: Louise Akers SC
“Hope has two daughters: anger at the way things are and the courage to change them.” Quoting St. Augustine, these words of womanist theologian Diana Hayes reflected for me the mission and spirit of the 25th anniversary of Women-Church Convergence (W-CC), a coalition of more than 30 Catholic-rooted feminist groups gathered together in Chicago, August 17-19. We met to celebrate accomplishments, assess current realities, and strategize for a future that must include a more expanded and equitable role for women in the church.
Along with Diana Hayes, keynote speakers included pioneer feminist scripture scholar Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Mary E. Hunt, feminist theologian and co-founder/director of the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER), and United Church of Christ minister Marie Castellanos.
Panel discussions, topical working groups, feminist liturgies and a Eucharistic banquet highlighted the weekend. Themes of the working groups featured political and community building ministries, gender and racial justice ministries, and spiritualities for justice ministries.
Celebrative rituals and liturgies - at times lively, at times reflective — were coordinated by Diann Neu, co-founder of WATER. The importance of diversity was evident through collaboration with other women of faith: woman of Islam Soona Samsami partnered with Louise Akers to critique both Christian and Islamic Fundamentalisms.
Susan Farrell, co-coordinator of W-CC and professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn, NY, shared both her concern and hope: “In the face of a continued growing conservatism in the institutional church, I was gratified to see so much spirit expressed in individual women and in the working groups throughout the weekend. It was clear that women are committed to working for transformation and creating what Elisabeth Shussler Fioreza describes as the discipleship of equals. I hope that we do go forward with Wisdom and joy and look forward to a renewal of Women-Church.” Amen!