From 2006 through to 2017 the Office for the Participation of Women, part of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, coordinated a program for young women called the Young Catholic Women’s Interfaith Fellowship. Following a review in 2016the program reconnected with Australian Catholic University, partnered with Catholic Mission and morphed into Leadership for Mission.
Many features are the same, participants are women between the ages of 25-35 and come from across Australia. They complete a four unit Graduate Certificate in theology with both face to face and online components. Interfaith engagement continues to be a feature of the program but the dominant focus is on leadership.
Thanks to the passion and talent of women in the ACU School of Theology and Philosophy, the units and the residential experiences are better than ever. The new ‘bespoke’ units start with the perspective of women and investigate the impact of theology and scripture on women. The teaching style is informed by praxis and begins with experience, reflects on this in the light of faith and returns to experience with a view to fostering a commitment to mission.
Previously religious congregations were the key financial supporters of the Fellowship. Some still donate so that women from disadvantaged situations can be included but now costs are shared equally between participants, Catholic Mission, ACU and Catholic Church Insurance. The current cohort of women are almost hallway through the program having completed units in theology and scripture with units on leadership and mission ahead in 2019. All being well, it is our intention to recruit again in late 2019 for an intake in 2020.