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Helena hopes for meaningful mentors for Catholic women

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Project officer for the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Catholic Women’s Network Helena Roumanus with her Siti (grandmother) Hesnay who was unconditional and completely selfless. Photo: Supplied
Project officer for the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Catholic Women’s Network Helena Roumanus with her Siti (grandmother) Hesnay who was unconditional and completely selfless. Photo: Supplied

Ask Helena Roumanus which woman has had the most influence for good in her life and she will tell you all about her Siti, Hesnay Moses.

Siti means grandmother in Lebanese, and Helena says hers taught her what it means to be a Catholic, more by example than by words.

The 38-year-old project officer for the Sydney archdiocese’s Catholic Women’s Network worships at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta and Christ the Redeemer Maronite Catholic parish in Castle Hill with her husband Gerard and four young children aged six to 11.

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Helena joined the archdiocese this year after working in human resources for the Sydney Christian radio station Hope 103.2, a role she loved. But she jumped at the chance to work for the Catholic church when the opportunity came up.

“I like people, working with them and serving them,” she said.

“I see my real job as being a wife and a mum, but I’ve always had the desire to work for the church and I always asked God, ‘Is there a way that I can do something for you and for the church?’”

Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP launched the Catholic Women’s Network last September.
The next milestone for outreach to women in the archdiocese will be the launch of its mentoring program next year, with a small pilot beginning this October.

“I admit I had to get my own head around what a mentor actually is and how that relationship of accompaniment is different to that of a spiritual director, counsellor or a life coach,” Helena said.

“There also beauty in small groups and events and things like that for women but a one-on-one connection is different and there is a need for women to connect in that way and journey towards Christ together.

“Our role as the Catholic Women’s Network will be to match the mentors and mentees together and support those relationships.

“We have lots of hopes and dreams for the network but primarily we want to connect women in the church and existing women’s ministries together who are already doing great things.”

Helena was close to her grandmother when growing up but reflected more deeply on what her Siti meant to her after she died in 2020.

Project officer for the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Catholic Women’s Network Helena Roumanus, top right, with her grandmother Hesnay who was a great example for her Catholic faith. Photo: Supplied
Project officer for the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Catholic Women’s Network Helena Roumanus, top right, with her grandmother Hesnay who was a great example for her Catholic faith. Photo: Supplied

“She was among the first generation of Lebanese who migrated to Australia and she married here,” she explained.

“I didn’t grow up in a very traditional Christian home and while I knew I was a Catholic and went to a Catholic school it was my grandmother’s witness that had a profound impact on me.

“We never had big theological conversations, we never talked about doctrine or dogma, it was just that the simple way she lived her life had a profound impact on me and I think formed me as a woman.

“She always had an apron on and always had a rosary in her apron pocket and I remember watching her walking around her home and whether she’d be washing dishes or cooking or hanging out clothes or just sitting down having a cup of tea and I’d see her mumbling the rosary.

“She’s probably the person who most closely reflected Christ’s life to me, unconditional and completely selfless.

“I’ve been beautifully loved by my husband, parents, siblings and friends, but her love felt as close to perfect as it can get, felt like Christ’s love.

“Now I kind of take her with me, I like to wear an apron around the house and I keep my rosary beads in my pocket at home or at work.”

Helena is also a student of the Arete Centre for Missionary Leadership, undertaking a graduate certificate in missionary leadership which is offered in partnership with the University of Notre Dame Australia.

“It’s beautiful, it’s an encounter with God that I never experienced before,” she said.

“The Arete Centre has done a lot for my formation, it’s deepened my love for and trust in God as well as equipping me for ministry.

“My hope is really just to serve, to encounter women, connect them and help meet their needs however I can.”

Stay in touch and sign up to the Catholic Women’s Network at catholicwomensnetwork.org

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