Her piano is surrounded by folders of musical works in progress. All are important to her, but one in particular stirs her soul. Acclaimed composer Elizabeth Swados, like many people around the world, was touched deeply by the rape and murder of four American churchwomen in El Salvador on Dec. 2, 1980. Their stories of faith and commitment forever altered her consciousness and now, for the 30th anniversary of their deaths, she is composing an oratorio that will remember the tragedy while celebrating the positive changes it brought about.
Isabel Legarda was only 8 years old when the abduction, rape and shooting death of four American churchwomen 30 years ago in El Salvador drew the world’s attention to the tiny Central American country, raised questions about U.S. support for rightist forces there, and inspired a movement of religious activism.
At least three groups have organized delegations of pilgrims to El Salvador to mark the 30th anniversary of the martyrdom of U.S. churchwomen Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan on Dec. 2, 1980, and to honor their lives and legacy.
Writer/director Margarethe Von Trotta’s new film, “Vision: From the Life of Hildegard of Bingen,” is a filmed version of the life of a thoroughly “renaissance” woman who was born and lived during the Middle Ages. Hildegard of Bingen was born near Worms, Germany, around the year 1098 and died in Bingen on the Rhine in 1179.
MILWAUKEE -- Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister sat quietly at a small table Saturday morning sipping coffee in the lobby of the Frontier Airlines Center in Milwaukee where some 2,100 Catholics had gathered for the annual Call to Action weekend national pilgrimage. Call to Action Catholics are progressive misfits and come together because they believe with unyielding determination that at the center of their faith rests the twin pillars of compassion and justice. Yet they don’t find this taught or modeled by the leadership in their church today. What they say they find instead is too much condemnation, feminist exclusion, gay bashing and privilege.
Disappointed that their once youthful Vatican II dreams of renewal of structure have not taken hold as they had hoped they would, they come together to offer each other encouragement and to remind each other that each of them is church, and that they are living and forging church. So this is Call to Action, an organization, a movement, a dream: real Catholics who won't give up and are passing their dreams to the next generations.
ST. PAUL, MINN. -- The word “college” was nonexistent to Mysee Chang until her sophomore year of high school.
“I thought it was elementary, middle, high school and then I was done,” said Mysee Chang, who is from Corcoran, Minn. Listening to teachers and mentors as well as partaking in an all-female literature class encouraged her to research her college options.
Warning: The following ideas and images may be uncomfortable to imagine. (But they may still be good for us to read!)
References to women’s experience -- womb, pregnancy, labor, childbirth, nursing -- bring with them distinct images and memories from my own life, and my women friends and family feel the same. When, at two distinct gatherings of people wrestling with religious and spiritual issues, I heard others talking about these experiences in reference to religious experiences of God, it made the experience all the more amazing and extraordinary.
I grew up during a time when feminine experiences such as young girls’ menstrual cycles were hidden, even considered shameful. Menstruation was never talked about in public and was barely spoken about in many homes. Pregnancy was regarded as very special, but was somehow still an awkward subject. And nursing a baby, discouraged by many in the medical profession, was almost considered abnormal.
BABES WITH A BEATITUDE: DEVOTIONS FOR SMART, SAVVY WOMEN OF FAITH
By Linda P. Kozar and Danielle Woody
Published by Howard Books, $14.99
To speak of the ineffable God is to speak in figures. God is like ... God is like a mothering bird. God is like a good shepherd.
We do not mean that God is a robin or a nomad. We mean that these images are as close as halting human language will allow us to the One who is beyond words, beyond images, beyond our ability to know or to say.
But the analogies themselves must be sturdy enough to bear even the shadow of the divine, the merest whisper of the Spirit. The analogies should not be disposable nor should they be clumsy. The analogies may be strange. They may be shot through with pain, for the losses God allows, or ordains, that bring us, trembling, to our knees.
The Pope told the Scottish people in his homily at Bellahouston Park on Sept. 16, that "Just as the Eucharist makes the Church, so the priesthood is central to the life of the Church."
That same week, the Women's Ordination Conference (WOC) celebrated its 35th anniversary --- 35 years of witnessing to the Church that there is no need for ordinations to be declining worldwide because there is no shortage of vocations to the priesthood among women.
As part of its anniversary celebration in Chicago on Sept. 18, 2010, WOC had the first public showing of "Pink Smoke Over the Vatican," a one-hour documentary on the women priest movement made by Jules Hart for her company, Eyegoddess Films.
Hart, who is not Catholic, said she was moved to make this film after she met some of the women priests and their supporters because "it is not every day that you meet people who give up everything for what they believe in."
WASHINGTON -- Most prenatal tests that show serious abnormalities in the child end up in an abortion, panelists on a national webinar said Oct. 5.
The panel, convened at the Catholic University of America in Washington, argued passionately for prenatal and perinatal support systems that would enable women to bring such children to term rather than aborting them.
“We are aware of statistics indicating that 90 percent of unborn babies diagnosed with Down syndrome will be aborted,” said Marie Hilliard, director of bioethics and public policy at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia and moderator of the panel.
“In England,” she added, “a study indicated 86 percent of those with neural tube defects such as spinal bifida will be aborted.”
Dr. John Bruchalski, an obstetrician-gynecologist and founder of the Tepeyac Family Center in Fairfax, Va., confirmed Hilliard’s observation that most unborn children receiving a prenatal diagnosis of a lethal or even nonlethal disability are aborted.