Raising Women’s Voices

March 30, 2021

The launch of the weekly podcast series, Australian Women Preach, on International Women’s Day, captures the zeitgeist of the moment.  Women are tired of being kept silent.

The impetus of this collaborative project between the Grail in Australia and WATAC (Women and the Australian Church) is the Plenary Council.  The Listening and Dialogue phase enabled thousands of Catholics across the country to imagine a different church, and it was clear from the final report that many of us wanted Sunday sermons that broke open the Word in ways that were diverse, challenging and relevant to our daily lives.   The discernment paper, Prayerful and Eucharistic, went so far as to recommend that lay preaching be supported and encouraged.  And the final document so far, the working paper, Instrumentum laboris, acknowledges “the need for a renewal of preaching (128).”

Australian Women Preach, then, is the fruit of Plenary Council discernment.  Wondering what we could do ourselves to support and encourage lay preaching, we took the bold step of just doing it.  Our focus on women’s voices arises from our consciousness not only of “the woman question” being one of the big challenges for the Plenary Council but also the fact that women’s voices have too often been silenced within the church.  We are modeling the change we would like to see.

We intend writing to the bishops of Australia to ask them to promote this initiative in their dioceses.  We are hopeful they will see fit to do so.