Six religious women attending the General Conference of Bishops in Bangkok explained that their presence is important as they represent the poor, minorities, the vulnerable and the local population across the region.
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp – Bangkok
Several religious women are among the invitees at the General Conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops (FABC) in Bangkok.
In an interview with Vatican News, they explained why it is important for women religious to attend the conference.
We want them to hear our voice
Representing Talitha Kum, Sr Paula, a sister of St. Paul of Chartre, Thailand, said that it is important for women religious to be here so that the bishops know what women religious are doing in the area of human trafficking. “We help people and we want them to hear our voice and get involved in our activities and support us,” she said.
Sr Françoise, also a sister of St. Paul of Chartre associated with Talitha Kum in Thailand, agrees. She added: “I would like the bishops to be aware of this and accept our work in their dioceses” so that they can provide assistance to those “injured” by human trafficking.
We play a vital role in evangelism
Sister Deanna, an Assumptionist religious and a Filipino missionary in Thailand, says their presence is “really important here.” On a personal level, it is important because of her role as Executive Secretary of the Bureau of Consecrated Life.
“I feel my presence reminds our bishops that religious, especially women religious, play a vital role in evangelism,” she said.
Sr Deanna added that one of the most important aspects of her role is “creating mutual relationships between religious people, both men and women”. If she is not present at certain meetings, only men are present. “I am very often alone in meetings.” But when she is present, “they begin to listen, they begin to see the importance of the presence of a female religious.”
My presence makes the difference
Sister Joeyanna D’Souza, a daughter of St. Paul, India, said when she was invited as a Pauline because of her “total commitment to spreading the gospel through the media. Now that I’m here,” she continued, “I feel my presence here really makes a difference. I do my bit from the social media and the digitization of the FABC.”
We can contribute, we have ideas
Sr Whel, Sisters of the Divine Redeemer, Philippines said she feels it is important “for women religious to attend the FABC because I have a voice. I have to express what the reality of women is not only in situations but also for them to realize that FABC is not only of men. But that we can contribute, we have ideas.”
Sr Whel also works with Talitha Kum. “It is also a concern that they and we need to be heard on these issues. It is important that all religious, especially women, are heard.”
Channel for change
“I feel personally blessed to be here with the FABC representing Talitha Kum and the Good Shepherd who works with minorities,” began Sr Sutisa, a Sister of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd in Thailand.
It is time, she continued, that “our voice representing the poor…minorities…the vulnerable…people on the ground” will be heard at the FABC table. “It’s also a channel,” she continued, “that will bring change… in the future… a very near future.”