Ecclesial Women in Broken Bay
Ecclesial Women are women ‘among’ and ‘for’ the disciples of Jesus in the local Church. They are ‘lay’ in their identification with Christ’s faithful and in their distinction from ordained ministry. Yet, in their presence and service, and through their public commitment to the people of the Diocese, they share in, and extend, the mission of pastoral charity of the Bishop. This constitutes the heart of the charism of Ecclesial Women. Fostering the feminine perspective in the life of the Diocese, their charism also contributes to the leadership of women in the Diocese.
Discerning a call from God to serve the people of the local Church, Ecclesial Women live in a radical, public, committed single way of life under the direction of the Bishop. Their call is accepted and celebrated liturgically by the Bishop who mandates them to share in his ministry of pastoral care. As both a sign and means of their primary relationship to the local Church, Ecclesial Women promise both celibacy and obedience to the Bishop. By such promises, the charism of Ecclesial Women finds concrete expression. Their celibacy is a witness to the centrality of their relationship to the local Church to whom they are publicly committed. Thus, celibacy is a sign of love and commitment to the local Church. By their obedience to the Bishop, Ecclesial Women witness both their freedom and their availability to serve the local Church without reserve. By making these two promises of celibacy and obedience, Ecclesial Women demonstrate a heart of hospitality, offering witness to the truth that the people of the Diocese are loved by God with an absolute and undivided passion.
Their celibate consecration and Diocesan-oriented mission entrust Ecclesial Women with a particular task of empowering the members of the local Church in the adventure of Christian discipleship and evangelisation. They do so through a commitment to:
- exercise a ministry that assists those who have already embraced discipleship of Jesus to enter more fully into the mystery of his life by sharing the depth of their own discipleship with others;
- empower the baptismal calling of others and to nurture the faith of the local Church;
- discern the charisms and gifts of others and to identify the means by which these might be realised for the life of the local Church;
- facilitate growth and development of the local Church, and
- promote the unity in faith of the Diocese.
Such a charism is enabled by Ecclesial Women, therefore, appropriately working in collaboration with the leadership within the Diocese, and, themselves, being in positions of pastoral animation and leadership.
Ecclesial Women assume such appointments of leadership in the Diocese at the discretion of the Bishop. Such ministries might include animation of significant Diocesan pastoral programs, staffing of key Diocesan agencies and promoting important Diocesan initiatives. Special prominence is given to ministries of spiritual leadership drawing the people of the Diocese into a deeper involvement in the mystery of the Risen Lord.
Given that the commitment of Ecclesial Women is realised in sharing in the pastoral care of the Diocese through positions of leadership, facilitation, animation and empowerment, women who consider a calling to this public commitment need to demonstrate those attributes and skills which accord with the positions with which they will be entrusted by the Bishop. Since these positions will be varied according to the changing needs of the local Church, Ecclesial Women may be drawn from many different backgrounds. Ordinarily, they will be between the ages of twenty and sixty. They need to demonstrate a freedom and maturity capable of a life-long commitment, and a readiness to be formed into an ecclesial way of life humanly, spiritually, intellectually and pastorally. Most importantly, the induction of Ecclesial Women is to assist them grow into consecrated persons throughout their life. It attends to their growth as human beings in relationship with others and it attends to their spiritual life.
Formation is a continuing process unfolding through their ministry. The lifestyle of Ecclesial Women provides them with a discipline, i.e. with both structure for their identity and with flexibility for their ministry. Ecclesial Women commit themselves to daily lectio divina and Eucharist, weekly spiritual reading, study, and examination of life, and a balanced life between ministry and leisure. Their prayer together, along with their common devotion to Mary, the model of discipleship, mother of the Church and Star of the Sea, will also act to strengthen their commitment.
The discernment of the vocation as an Ecclesial Woman is ultimately the responsibility of the Bishop, assisted by those he has appointed as advisors in such matters.
For more information about Ecclesial Women in Broken Bay, contact:
Ph: 0417 693 887