Australian Women Preach

An Endorsement for Australian Women Preach

Thanks to Bishop of Parramatta, the Most Reverend Vincent Long Van Nguyen, for sharing this letter of support for Australian Women Preach

‘Go and tell my brothers and I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God’

At Easter Vigil, we hear these words of the risen Jesus who empowers Mary of Magdala to reclaim her agency and to proclaim the Good News to others. She is known in the Christian tradition as apostle to the apostles.

But it was not just Mary of Magdala who had a pivotal role in the early days of the followers of the Way. Throughout salvation history, women disciples have played a critical part in forging a new future out of the hopeless present. Puah and Shiprah acted as catalysts for the exodus by their civil disobedience.

Esther boldly intervened for her Jewish people at the foreign court. Ruth broke new ground of inclusion as a consummate outsider to Israel’s strictly safeguarded bloodline. Mary McKillop, of course, started a new and hitherto unheralded group of women who took the Good News to the edges of colonial Australia.

If the Church is to be faithful to the biblical narrative and responsive to the living presence of God, it must reclaim a discipleship of equals and empower men and women disciples to share their gifts for human flourishing and the growth of the Kingdom.

The Church cannot have a better future if it does not listen to women’s voice, wisdom and insight. So long as we continue to make women invisible and inferior in the Church’s language, liturgy, theology and law, we impoverish ourselves.

I am pleased that there are Christian women in Australia who like Mary of Magdala share the Good News from their own lived experience. Australian Women Preach is one such group of women. It is a shared venture and innovative project designed to offer theologically informed perspectives of women from across the wealth of Christian traditions.

Their preaching will highlight women traditionally omitted or misrepresented in our lectionary and open the Scripture texts to deepen our understanding of God’s saving presence in the world. Those who view these preaching videos will have the opportunity to see the deep spirituality of Christian women who break open God’s Word, with messages of hope that renew faith, strengthen us and encourage active engagement in the life of the Church for our work in the world.

I have made a habit of accessing Australian Women Preach each week as part of my own homiletic preparations. I highly recommend it to fellow clergy, RCIA catechists, discussion groups and others who desire to enrich themselves with the unique insight and wisdom of Australian Christian women.

As many move into a “strange land” of the Church beyond the pews, this may be the unexpected source of nourishment for the discerning pilgrims.

I also recommend Australian Women Preach for another important reason. It is the listening, discerning and deliberating process of the Plenary Council, the opportunity for deep reform for the Catholic Church in Australia not be missed. For I believe that until we have truly incorporated the gift of women and the feminine dimension of our Christian faith, we will not be able to fully energise the life of the Church.

+Vincent Long OFMConv.,
Bishop of Parramatta
28th March 2021