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2023 Keynote Presentation by Cynthia Bailey Manns

FutureChurch is honored to welcome Dr. Cynthia Bailey Manns, one of 10 non- bishop voting delegates chosen by Pope Francis to represent the North American region at the first general assembly of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality in October.

In her keynote presentation, Dr. Bailey Manns offers reflections on her experience at the synod, details the process, and offers highlights and disappointments, and offers suggestions for moving forward as a synodal Church.

Cynthia Bailey Manns, DMin, is the director of adult learning at Saint Joan of Arc Catholic Community—a community whose vision is to be a visible, progressive Catholic Community, compassionate and welcoming to all. She holds a DMin in Spiritual Direction from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Florida, and has served as professional faculty in St. Catherine University’s Theology Department, as the coordinator of the Spiritual Director Certificate Program, and as co-director of the Thriving Congregations Coordination Program funded by the Lilly Endowment, Inc. She has also served as adjunct faculty at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and Drew Theological School, teaching courses in human development, spirituality, spiritual formation, soul care for lay and ordained leaders, and sacred activism. She is a contributor to the anthology, Embodied Spirits: Stories of Spiritual Directors of Color (2014), and she is an experienced soul companion, supervisor, and retreat leader. She lives with her family in Bloomington, Minnesota.

November 9 Presentation on Synod Synthesis

The Synodal process is a new way of being church and the final synthesis document offered both newfound hope and some painful disappointments.  Still, there is no doubt, this is an extraordinary moment in our Church and a major turning point as 54 women discerned and voted as full co-equal members at the Synod meeting alongside prelates.  FutureChurch co-director, Deborah Rose, offers commentary and analysis on the October 2023 Synod Assembly and the resulting final Synthesis.

View the PowerPoint slides:  CLICK HERE

View FutureChurch’s Tribute to The Women of the Synod: CLICK HERE

Synodal comments of participants from November 9th Gathering:  CLICK HERE

Feminist Prayers for My Daughter with Shannon K. Evans

Author Shannon K. Evans joins FutureChurch to discuss the origins of her new powerful book of prayers, to share a few prayers with us, and to take questions from the audience. Evans wrote Feminist Prayers for My Daughter as a gift to mothers and women everywhere. It offers short prayers that affirm the unique challenges and embrace the natural abilities embodied by our daughters, young and old alike. Categories of prayers include embodiment, relationships, wholeness, justice, equality, and milestones. This book encompasses all of life from birth to death while imagining God in ways that resonate with the feminine experience.


About Our Presenter:

Shannon K. Evans is the spirituality and culture editor at the National Catholic Reporter and the author of the books Feminist Prayers for My Daughter: Powerful Petitions for Every Stage of Her Lifeand Rewilding Motherhood: Your Path to an Empowered Feminine Spirituality. 

With interest in ecofeminism, social change and contemplative practice, Shannon leads workshops and retreats across the country that spark curiosity and compassion. She has partnered with the Jesuits of Canada and the U.S. and is a frequent contributor to Franciscan Media.

Having previously lived in Indonesia for two years, Shannon loves to travel, but is happiest at home on the Iowa prairie with her family and beloved chickens.

Images of God Offered During the Presentation:

Lover of all; Creator, Mother; O Weaver of Worlds; Great mystery; Sanctifying One; Wisdom Sophia; Mother pelican; Creator, Mother/Father; Source-Sojourner- Spirit; “She Who IS!”; Spirit of Love; Oh tender lover, who ever touches and caresses us to life; God of Love, Living Word and Bond of Love; God beyond our naming; Oceanic Oneness; Baker and Her Yeast; Mama Bear; Coastal Mangrove Forester of Shelter; God as pregnant mother; Breath; Breath of Life; Shepherdess; Womb of Life

More Links:

2023 Annual Mary Magdalene Celebration

Rethinking Women’s Participation: Stories of Synodality Then and Now

Prayer service written by Kelly Meraw for FutureChurch. Shared leadership from Kelly Meraw, Kathy Maher, Olivia Hastie, Monika Hyatt, Rose Lue, Lucy Reiger, Eleanor Mears, Svea Fraser, and Anne Mears. Music displayed and streamed under OneLicense #A-737115.

More Media from This Prayer Service


Portraying Mary Magdalene Today: The Movie Version(s) with Joan Taylor, Ph.D.

Mary Magdalene has been a figure of religious and artistic inspiration for Christians for some 2000 years.  In the Bible, she is a disciple of Jesus and a key witness at his crucifixion and resurrection. In the Western Church her role and character changed and she became known as a penitent prostitute.  In medieval art, she is often portrayed naked, covered only with her long hair.  In more modern versions, she has been portrayed as the romantic partner and wife of Jesus.  What is the truth? Professor Joan Taylor of King’s College is an expert in the field and shares her insights into some of the images of Mary Magdalene that we receive today.

About our presenter

Prof. Joan Taylor: After a BA degree at Auckland University, New Zealand, Joan completed post-graduate studies at the University of Otago and then went to the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem (Kenyon Institute) as Annual Scholar in 1986. She undertook a PhD at New College, Edinburgh University, and was appointed in 1992 to a position of lecturer (subsequently senior lecturer) at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, in the departments of both Religious Studies and History. In 1995 she won an Irene Levi-Sala Award in Israel’s archaeology, for the book version of her PhD thesis, Christians and the Holy Places (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993, rev. 2003). In 1996-7 she was Visiting Lecturer and Research Associate in Women’s Studies in Religion at Harvard Divinity School, a position she held in association with a Fulbright Award. She has also been Honorary Research Fellow in the Departments of History and Jewish Studies at University College London. She has taught at King’s College London since 2009. View the engaging and informative documentary on Jesus’ women disciples featuring Joan Taylor.

Opening Prayer

Litany to Saint Mary Magdalene adapted from “Thirteen Ways of Calling Out To Mary Magdalene” developed by The Women Who Stayed, the women’s ministry at the Church of St. Francis Xavier, NYC.

SynodWatch Series Session Three

FutureChurch hosts a 3-part online series exploring the Instrumentum Laboris (Working Document) for the October 2023 Assembly of the Synod on Synodality which was released on June 20, 2023.

Session 3: Participation, Governance, and Authority

This third session covered the third priority in the working document – “Participation, Governance, and Authority” FutureChurch co-directors, Russ Petrus and Deborah Rose, were joined by Sr. Lynn Jarrell, OSU; Ellie Hidalgo; and Rev. Joseph Healey, MM who offered their own insights and commentary from their experience and expertise.

  • Deborah Rose provides an overview of who will be attending and voting at the October Assembly.
  • Sr. Lynn Jarrell, OSU, a canon lawyer, addressed how canon law could be used to promote synodality.
  • Ellie Hidalgo, co-director of Discerning Deacons, will discussed her recent journey to the Amazon to learn how synodality is taking shape there.
  • Rev. Joseph Healey, MM spoke about synodality in the African context from his own decades-long experience as a Maryknoll missioner – mostly in Tanzania and Kenya – in a number of capacities.

View Deb’s Slides


Gender and the Role of Women in Our Liturgical Life

FutureChurch is joined by Yale Divinity School Professor Teresa Berger, Ph.D. who has spent a lifetime examining both past and present liturgical developments from the perspective of women’s lives. In her presentation, Dr. Berger offer insights into the roles women played in Early Christianity, the history of women’s liturgical ministries, and the development of the calendar of saints and the uneven ways we have come to formally venerate women within the tradition.

Teresa Berger, Ph.D. is Professor of Liturgical Studies and Thomas E. Golden Jr. Professor of Catholic Theology at Yale Divinity School and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music.

Further Reading: