Here's what the Vatican is doing for International Women's Day

Voices of Faith” might be the most extraordinary event you’ve never heard of.

Now in its fourth year, this annual gathering lives up to its name: It serves to amplify the voices of women from around the world who live out their faith through works of mercy and justice. Women from many countries, languages, cultures and sectors come forward in their shared mission—to protect the dignity and rights of women and children. They share their stories and speak to a shared vision, emphasizing that their work must not be in vain.

“Voices of Faith” takes place, today, March 8, International Women’s Day: a fitting holiday to celebrate the women doing this serious, sacred and joyful work all across the globe. Taking place in the very heart of the Vatican, behind the walls of stone and Swiss guards, the date and location are no symbol—they speak clearly to the need for the church to honor women more authentically and visibly.

“Voices of Faith” might be the most extraordinary event you’ve never heard of.

When I was invited to serve on the closing panel for the 2016 Voices of Faith event, I was, for once in my life, speechless. What on earth could I possibly contribute? I would stand in an auditorium full of the most outstanding, gifted, selfless women, many of whom put themselves in danger in the name of manifesting the Gospel in our time. What could I have to say? I was in my final year of the master of divinity program at Yale University. I was the face of white American privilege. Surely, there was a mistake.

If there was one, I thank God every day for that error, because the Voices of Faith journey was one of the peaks of my young life. To journey into the Vatican and stand in its great halls and profess that the church must not be the final frontier for the engagement and leadership of women was a moment of which I had only dreamed. One of my great passions is to advocate for young Catholics and women in positions of visible and meaningful leadership, and suddenly, there I was, with a microphone and the eyes of the press, church and world (O.K., at least the internet) on me. To do so among women I consider to be my “sheroes” only magnified the blessing.

A few nights before the panel, we had the opportunity to tour the papal offices and explore places only seen on television during the rare conclave. As we stepped out onto the roof of the Vatican, with the Sistine Chapel to our backs and the chant of Lenten Vespers echoing from the Basilica of Saint Peter, I found myself humbled and moved by the moment, an unexpected and treasured blessing. I felt a great pang of love for this church, its history and tradition displayed in the piazza below and its future huddled around me, snapping photos and wiping away tears.

I will be watching this year’s event with a full-to-bursting heart from my office in suburban Connecticut. This year’s lineup is another all-star cast of women from around the globe whose stories will move spirits and turn hearts. It is no coincidence that this event falls during Lent, a time when we as Christians should be reflecting on the ways we can be more faithful to the Gospel and Christ-like in our words and deeds. What better way to do so than by making room at the table for women? Only then will the Voices of Faith tagline, “all voices count,” be made manifest.

Learn more about Voices of Faith at www.voicesoffaith.org and be sure to tune in to the 2017 Voices of Faith event on Wednesday, March 8, 2017 starting at 9 AM EST.

J Cosgrove
1 month 3 weeks ago

My wife thinks this so called celebration of Woman's day is an affront to women. It implies that woman are inferior. She definitely does not hold that opinion and neither do I.

Derrick Weiller
1 month 3 weeks ago

What your wife thinks is but a single data point.
It does not make for a compelling argument.

J Cosgrove
1 month 3 weeks ago

No it is not a single data point. It is logic she is using which is not a data point.

Crystal Watson
1 month 3 weeks ago

This sounds more like what women are doing for women, not what the Vatican is doing for women. I won't take the Vatican seriously until it treats women and men equally.

Lisa Weber
1 month 3 weeks ago

Women need to be able to preach at Mass. That would impress me far more than acknowledging International Women's Day at the Vatican - but the acknowledgement is nice if that is the best they can do.

Crystal Watson
1 month 3 weeks ago

The best they could do would be to allow women to have job equality with men ... the priesthood ... but the pope has decided women will *never* be priests. I don't think he and the other guys running the show at the Vatican realize how the rest of the world views their institutionalizing of sexism.

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