Plenary voices: Sr Mary Julian Ekman RSM

Sr Mary Julian Ekman hopes the Plenary looks at practical ways members of the Church can encourage all the baptised to know what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God, and to understand the complementarity of men and women in their paths to holiness

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Members of the Religious Sisters of Mercy of Alma, Michigan, gather in prayer. Photo: supplied

Australia needs signs of hope! One sign is the dynamic witness given by priests, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful working together for the renewal and edification of the Church.

As a woman Religious, I find that narratives which push for ordination of women bypass, ignore, or diminish the many valuable ways in which women already serve the Church. In the course of this Assembly, there have been different tones in the voices calling for women’s ordination: some express genuine concern for women’s role in the Church and are open: we need to hear these; others are angry, hostile and closed. Yet in the voices of the young women I accompany, I hear confidence, hope, joy, and a deep desire to give all to Jesus Christ and to His Church. Rather than seeing this path as a “waste” of their lives or talents, they see it as an opening in freedom to love and serve Christ and put their gifts at the service of the Church.

My hope is that this Council will look at practical ways in which we can encourage and educate families, parishes, schools and universities about what it fundamentally means to be a human person made in the image and likeness of God, and about the complementarity between men and women and their various paths to holiness. We cannot take for granted that our schools are doing this or that they have an understanding of complementarity. I attended Catholic schools all my life but never once heard about the Religious life until I travelled overseas.

The different paths to holiness are not ours to change:  they belong to Christ. We need to promote and encourage all vocations through a lens of complementarity and witness rather than competitiveness and power.