A synodal journey towards a renewed theology

A synodal journey towards a renewed theology


From May 26 to June 2, 2024, UISG held the Second Symposium of Women Religious Theologians in Nemi (Rome, Italy).

Designed as a platform for women religious theologians, the symposium aimed to nurture theological reflection on religious life by making it contextual and practical.

We asked some participants to share a personal reflection on the symposium through both video and written interviews. Below, we present the one by Sister Monica Benavides, from the Congregation of the Sisters of the Divine Will.


As a woman, theologian and religious of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Divine Will, I am deeply moved by the experience of the II UISG Symposium of Women Religious Theologians, held in Nemi, Italy, from May 26 to June 2, 2024. This meeting, framed in synodality, has been a space of grace and transformation that has rekindled in me the commitment to theological reflection situated, contextual and territorial, at the service of consecrated life and the realities of the peoples.


A year ago, the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) called women religious theologians of the world to participate in a process that we followed virtually. Then, we met in person to celebrate the "II Symposium of Women Religious Theologians".


Getting to the meeting point in Rome was an odyssey, since the "Giro d'Italia" was passing through the city, which caused the closure of the roads and the lack of available transportation. I decided to buck up and walk for an hour with my suitcase, looking to get through the crowded little streets. Well, I never get tired of contemplating Rome, so I started to enjoy the whole environment and its unique beauty. I ran to be on time, but the bus that would take us to Nemi and my colleagues were also delayed by the same event


Arriving in Nemi, we encountered a mosaic of cultures, languages, contexts, reflections and hearts that made for a vibrant panorama of women's religious life in the world. Synodality was palpable in the attentive listening, respectful dialogue and shared search for new theological perspectives. Truly, we were "beautiful together" in diversity and sisterhood. This image reminded me of other women in the world who unite their efforts and energies, their sonorous and binding words to repair, build collective knowledge and evidence political experiences of resistance and knowledge, seeking to live well together with others. 

"Synodality was palpable in the attentive listening, respectful dialogue and shared search for new theological perspectives."

The symposium invited us to sharpen our senses to listen deeply, not only to the words, but also to the silences, emotions and experiences that each sister brought with her. We noticed how the reality of the different contexts from which we came marked our reflections and our way of embracing that reality. This attentive listening, inspired by the Emmaus encounter, opened us to new understandings of reality and pushed us out of our comfort zones to walk together along paths of renewed theological reflection. 


We were surprised to discover that not all of us had brought theological reflection closer to religious life. The symposium challenged us to take up this fundamental task, asking ourselves about the essentials of consecrated life and its foundations in a changing and interconnected world, and the reflections needed to accompany socio-ecclesial transition and renewal. The symposium mobilized us in every way. It challenged us to renew leadership, structures and forms in order to walk more lightly and live an incarnated, evangelical and sustainable religious life in the world.


The II Symposium of Women Religious Theologians has been a turning point in our journey. It allowed us to dream together of a collective theological reflection, with other narratives, centered on the Word of God, which is manifested in history, in events and in Mother Earth. A theology that is born from the experience of consecrated women, that is evangelical, mystical, prophetic, synodal and transforming. A theology that reflects the multifaceted nature of religious life and that reciprocally shares its spiritual, charismatic, intercultural and pluriverse richness with the world. It urged us to make available the dynamics of a common life that renews its relationships to care for and harmonize life, and to celebrate the events of the Kingdom of God, embellishing it with the gifts, ministries and charisms granted to each person.


We women religious theologians will continue to support each other in reflection groups and theological commissions. Through all the spheres and structures in which we participate, both locally and internationally with the UISG, we will contribute to nurturing the synodal process. We dream of meeting again with the previous group and with those who will come, to carry out international symposiums of theology on religious life, convened by the UISG. We will continue weaving networks, alliances, efforts, participation, knowledge and wisdom, as well as fostering social friendship.


Finally, the adventures we went through to reach the symposium venue, negotiating the Roman streets congested by the Giro d'Italia, became a metaphor for our own journey as women religious theologians. Crossing obstacles, walking with hope and contemplating the beauty that surrounds us, even in the midst of chaos, are essential elements for discernment and transformative action.

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