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Community, challenge, compassion and a coolamon

The Annual Catholic Women’s Dinner on 27 October brought together nearly 200 women and men at the Canberra Southern Cross Club to celebrate women’s contribution to Church and society. Although held in Canberra, some women from rural parishes were able to attend and the organisers hope that the provision of billets and petrol subsidies will enable more country women to attend in the future. A key purpose of this year’s dinner was to build community with women of faith.

Experienced speaker Genevieve Jacobs who grew up near Quandialla, entertained and challenged participants as she reflected on her commitment to living the Gospel. Currently Group Editor for Region Media, and former ABC journalist, she focused on the Catholic Church’s battered public image and of the Church structures that limit women’s participation in decision-making and leadership within the Catholic Church. As attendance at Sunday masses declines, she urged Catholics to find new ways of being Church before it is too late.

Lisa Higginson, Deputy Director of Marymead CatholicCare, acknowledged the $5000 donation from the Catholic Women’s Taskforce for MacKillop House, a place of safety for women and children. Ms Higginson shared stories of the difference that secure accommodation is making in the lives of women and their children and expressed her appreciation for the compassionate ongoing partnership that exists between Marymead CatholicCare and the Catholic Women’s Taskforce.

In a creative approach to fundraising, the event team ran a silent auction. Thanks to generous donations from the members of the Taskforce and local businesses more than $2,500 was raised. Among the auction items was a coolamon, made by a local Ngunnawal artist.

A coolamon is a shallow wooden vessel, or dish with curved sides, with a canoe like shape. Coolamons are traditionally used by Aboriginal women to carry water, fruit, nuts, as well as to cradle babies. Perhaps this is fitting symbol for the Catholic Women’s Dinner, an event where women seek to carry other women to ‘life’ through community, challenge and compassion.

For more information about the Catholic Women’s Taskforce and their events, visit

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