Upcoming events focus on Church teaching about women

| Sharon Wilson | July 31, 2013 | 0 Comments

8 male_female_webWhen my daughter started pre-school, I anxiously awaited her first day home. I asked her what she learned that day. She replied with wide eyes and great excitement, “Mom, they have two bathrooms, one for boys and one for girls!”

Yes, at an early age she knew that there was a difference between boys and girls. The differences, of course, go much deeper than that.

Two events on Aug. 15 will celebrate those differences as the Church marks the anniversary of “Mulieris Dignitatem,” Blessed Pope John Paul II’s letter “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.”

Deeper understanding 

As part of a worldwide effort to celebrate and further understand this document, the Siena Symposium for Women, Family and Culture at the St. Paul Seminary will be hosting a panel discussion on the topic.

The document has its roots in the Second Vatican Council, said Deborah Savage, a professor at the seminary who will be one of the panelists.

Because of Pope John Paul’s influence at the council, the topic of women came up more than once, including in its closing messages:

“The hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of women is being acknowledged in its fullness, the hour in which women acquire in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved,” the council said.

“That is why, at this moment when the human race is undergoing so deep a transformation, women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling.”

Like many church documents, the significance and implications of this statement and the letter “Mulieris Dignitatem” are still be being unpacked, but they are having an influence on many people’s thinking.

The council’s words, for example, have had a great impact on Eileen Douglass, executive director of faith formation at St. Croix Catholic Faith Formation, which serves the parishes of St. Michael and St. Mary in Stillwater and St. Charles in Bayport.

Having heard a presentation by Savage, Douglass was so taken with the quote from Vatican II that she describes it as “something that you have felt in your heart but weren’t able to find the words for. Then, there it is — someone else has said it so well.”

This has prompted her to keep a focus on adult education with an eye toward women. “Women are so key in our culture,”?she said. “We have to reach out to those people who have an influence and educate them.”

Resisting pressures

Angela Neumann, a parishioner at St. Joseph in West St. Paul who has a master’s degree in theological studies, also has been affected by John Paul II’s letter on women.

At 26 years old, she has grown up in the post-feminism movement and is grateful for the Church’s teachings on women.

“The world’s feministic ideologies pressure me into choosing one of two extremes: hate men or try to transform myself into a man,” she said.

“I don’t want to do either. I refuse to drink the Kool-Aid,” she said, noting her refusal to cave in to the pressures that the secular culture places on women her age.

“‘Mulieris Dignitatem’ is about what it means to be a woman and what it means to be a man,” Neumann said.

“The two are absolutely complementary, and each absolutely necessary.” she said.

She will be part of a question-and-answer session about “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women” after a presentation by Father Spencer Howe at Divine Mercy Catholic Church in Faribault, also on Aug. 15.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about what the church teaches regarding women, and both events will shed more light on the Church’s true teachings about women and the complementarity between the genders.

Wilson is respect life coordinator in the archdiocesan Office of Marriage, Family and Life.

Want to attend?

  • Siena Symposium: “An Evening of Reflection on the Mission of Women” Aug. 15.
    6 p.m. Mass with Bishop Lee Piche’ at St. Mary’s Chapel, St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, University of St. Thomas.
    7 p.m. registration and refreshments, Brady Education Center, UST.
    7:30 p.m. panel discussion, BEC 120 with Deborah Savage, R. Mary Lemmons and Gina Bauer.
    For more information, contact Lemmons at rmlemmons@stthomas.edu or (651) 962-5357. Or visit http://www.archspm.org, and click on “view all events.”
  • ” ‘Mulleris Dignitatem’: A discussion on ‘The Dignity and Vocation of Women,’ ” Aug. 15.
    7 p.m. Mass at Divine Mercy Catholic Church, 139 Mercy Drive, Faribault
    8 p.m. presentation and refreshments.
    For more information, visit http://www.divinemercy.cc.

Tags: , ,

Category: Commentary