Unity in Diversity

Unity in Diversity


Interview with Sr. Mary Johnson , Superior General of the Sisters de Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN), at the joint UISG-USG meeting (November 22-24, 2023).


I think that the Synod brings hope not just to the Church, but to the world. The vision of diverse men and women from many different nations, serving in many different roles in the Church, seated around tables in the Synod Hall was an image I will always remember. For women religious in many nations, we have been seated around tables at our assemblies and chapters for the last few decades. But to see a gathering of the Church of this importance, using this powerful image: there was no head, there was no foot of the table, there was equality of voice and equality of listening.


I believe that that image will continue to be a driving image as we go forward now and live the Synod. Right now, I think that the Synod gave hope by showing the world that people can hold very different points of view, come from very different experiences with very different mindsets, and that they can come together to try to understand and collectively discern, and in our case, for the church to discern God's will, God's desire for the church itself and the work of the church. 


It gave me great hope, at a time of tremendous fracture in the world, that people who do hold very different positions could also collectively hold other people's points of view as well, and move, hopefully, to a place in October of 2024 where they will give an even deeper, greater gift to the Church and the world.


The most obvious way men and women could collaborate would be through our ministries. Women religious and men religious have, for the last several decades, continued to sustain historic ministries and what some call traditional ministries, while at the same time going to the margins of the society, creating new ministries in response to the needs of the people of our day, especially those who are suffering greatly.


I think it would be very exciting and it would be a powerful witness to see women and men religious trying new things in terms of ministry and sharing those ideas, especially with younger people, to demonstrate the energy and the creativity of ministry.

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