Tena koutou katoa. Nga mihi nui atawhai.
‘Speaking the Silence’ – this was the theme of the biannual Mercy conference that I attended, along with our DRS, Rosanna Fouhy and the HOD RE, Denise Camilleri.
One of the key note speakers, Mary McAleese, the former President of Ireland, spoke of how ‘people are demanding, I think, the authentic voices of women, powerful voices of women, right the way through the whole panoply of life’.
She urged us to read Luke’s gospel story of the Annunciation, where the angel Gabriel came to Mary, more closely and sees Mary as a source of empowerment for all women to question and challenge, to speak out. When the angel Gabriel says ‘the Lord is with you’, the gospel tells us that Mary ‘was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.’ Gabriel responds by reassuring her not to be afraid and that she is to bear ‘the Son of the Most High’. But she continues to question: ‘How can this be?’ McAleese emphasises that it is only after questioning and challenging the information that Mary says ‘let it be with me according to your word.’
Here at Carmel, our vision is that our Carmel graduates learn to be Mercy women who, like Mary, are ‘prepared to challenge and shape the future’ by using our voices, the voices of women, to speak to the silence of others.
A practical way that this can happen is to join the movement to have women’s voices being heard within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church. This link takes you to a site where you can upload an image of yourself and a message to Pope Francis. An example is from Mary Lou Falcone whose message is: All voices must be heard. All voices must count. Silence is not an option. These messages will be delivered as a visual petition on International Women’s Day 2020 to Pope Francis and Curia leaders. https://overcomingsilence.com/