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Updated: Mar 2, 2023

The Archdiocesan Women’s Taskforce hosted an evening to celebrate Catholic women last Thursday at the Southern Cross Club in Woden.

Over 120 people from throughout the Archdiocese joined the Taskforce for dinner - which also raised funds for MacKillop House in Lyneham.

The Taskforce is a small group of women who serve the women of the Archdiocese through advocacy, community, and formation.

It has taken more than two years, interrupted by Covid lockdowns, to finally stage this long-planned dinner to bring together the extraordinary range of Catholic women in our Archdiocese.

“It was almost a relief to welcome everyone in person” remarked Andrea Dean, chair of the Taskforce. “We realise how important it is for us to gather and share our experiences and ideas, but the last few years have made this impossible. It was a joy to see a full house with everyone so happy and engaged with each other”, she said.

Many women of distinction attended, including those who forged the way, including Marilyn Hatton

and Lorraine Baker, those now leading the way including Anne Kirwan CEO of CatholicCare, Maria Hicks, Manager of the Archdiocese’s Safeguarding Unit, Catherine Rey, Principal of John Paul II College and Anna Masters, Principal of Merici College.

Most welcome was the large attendance of the leaders of tomorrow – twenty young student leaders from Merici College, John Paul II College and MacKillop College who impressed everyone with their poise, engagement and understanding of the issues.

Ursula Stephens, another woman of distinction, gave the dinner address, focusing on growing women’s leadership – not just in the Church, but throughout society.

Ms Stephen’s leadership skills have been honed by twelve years as a senator from 2002 – 2014, as CEO of Catholic Social Services and now as CEO of Australian Catholic Safeguarding. She combines strong leadership and governance experience with an intrinsic understanding of social justice. Her speech was packed with sharp observation of what it is actually like in the workplace, the inherent biases a woman will encounter, and the clear steps we can take to learn, innovate and imagine new roles.

Archbishop Christopher welcomed the sense of energy and joy he could feel in the room and the obvious desire for all to walk together in synodality and with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Ms Dean thanked the generosity of all the women present and invited them to come to the special day of listening and consultation that the Taskforce is holding on Saturday 12 November at Merici College. “Our voice is your voice, our hands are your hands”, she said, “please come, and add to our strength and vision. All the details are on our website.”

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