Consecrated women empowering other women
Consecrated women empowering other women
Reflection of Sister Carmen Ferrer - Superior General of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Cardinal Sancha
In the history of our societies, the role of women has been changing. Nowadays, both social and technological developments have enabled women to take on several roles, all of which are considered important, enabling them to provide the world with their own contribution that originated them from the heart of God, empowered with the beauty and richness of their femininity. Consecrated women have also played multiple roles in society, carrying out a variety of missions, becoming a social reference point wherever they were and are. So, how can we help other women to develop all their gifts for the good of society? The best way in which consecrated women can contribute to the empowerment of other women is if we, consecrated women, become empowered women ourselves. If we fulfil our responsibility and manage to change the traditional image of a woman, a submissive creature, whose work is limited to sacred spaces and the related environments, transforming ourselves into women who are at the service of others and committed to the development of the values of the Kingdom; if we are liberated and liberating women, with clear, evangelical, and just convictions that help other women to take courageous stances to contribute, clarify, denounce and/or defend the weakest people in our system.
The empowerment of women is currently associated with a synodal and cooperative stance, in collaboration with pastoral agents, with the hierarchy, and with the men with whom we share our mission. It is about generating the social valuation that women deserve for the roles they have been taking on; thus, its aim is not generating confrontation. It is about making truly visible who we are and where we women are, without false praise, or condescending behaviours. It is about breaking the traditional paradigms of obedience to ecclesiastical authorities and, sometimes, to the authorities of our Congregations. It is about being always assertive and involve other women, so that they know about their rights, how to exercise and defend them, both in the Church and in other areas of human coexistence. Moreover, it means being self-confident of our vital ideas, and to express them with respect and positivity. To this end, we need to create a positive leadership that identifies us as consecrated women going out into the new circumstances in which we live.
We need to create a positive leadership that identifies us as consecrated women going out into the new circumstances in which we live.
We live leadership in our Congregation and in the Church, by valuing the great mission that we can develop as consecrated women and by committing ourselves, each one doing her best, even in the midst of our weaknesses. With the sisters of our Congregation, we support their personal courage and their initiatives, sharing their discernment and strengthening their role in the Church, defending them in the face of some possible behaviours that may make them feel considered as inferior. In the Church and in society, we contribute, participate, give our opinions, take on responsibilities and above all accompany and defend the most fragile and weakest, among whom are many women who are walking with us, highlighting their courage and their great dedication. With priests, we try to build a fraternal-sororal Church where, in a horizontal and egalitarian relationship, we help each other in the great mission of evangelisation.
Another way of living female leadership is to join with other women, to reflect on the importance of our participation in all areas, especially in decision-making spaces, both in the public and private sectors. We need to help them becoming aware that, if we women are half of the world's population, we have a voice and a responsibility in everything that happens in our society.
We embrace the mission we were entrusted with enthusiasm, firmness, with an attitude of openness to novelty, expressing new ideas that can make us progress as women of faith, without fear of being wrong or of not being listened to when we express our point of view, in fraternity with our sisters and brothers, looking for the common points that allow us to build together a synodal Church and a Congregation that makes its structures more flexible, to allow the Spirit of God to speak to our hearts. And, most importantly: we do it with a welcoming attitude, listening to what is new, each one doing her best, in the midst of our weaknesses.
Some sentences of three Popes of our time are now worth being remembered:
Pius XII: "(Women) must concur with men for the good of society, having equal dignity with him... Both have the right and the duty to collaborate for the overall good of society, of our homeland..." (April 24th, 1957).
St. John XXIII: " Women are gaining an increasing awareness of their natural dignity. Far from being content with a purely passive role or allowing themselves to be regarded as a kind of instrument, they are demanding both in domestic and in public life the rights and duties which belong to them as human persons." (Encyclical Letter Pacem in terris (1963), n. 41).
St. John Paul II: " You have not only a glorious history to remember and to recount, but also a great history still to be accomplished! Look to the future, where the Spirit is sending you in order to do even greater things." (VC 110).
Sr. Carmen Ferrer, hccs
She has worked in the educational mission as a Spanish language teacher and director in Colombia, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. She holds a Master's degree in Hispanic Studies from UPR-RUM and received Biblical preparation from the School of Biblical Sciences of the Dominican Republic and from UBL in Costa Rica.
For 19 years she worked in youth ministry, biblical pastoral, formation of Basic Ecclesial Communities, and in the field of popular education, serving as director of a Professional Technical High School of the educational association Fe y Alegria.
She served as Secretary General of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Cardinal Sancha for 12 years and has been working as Superior General for two terms: from 2000 to 2006; from 2018 onward.
She was president of the Conference of Religious of the Dominican Republic (CONDOR) and is currently a member of CONDOR and the 4th Vice President of CLAR.