Our name “Ecclesia of Women in Asia” expresses the desire of women to enter the mainstream Church as fully responsible ecclesial participants and partners in the life of the Church. EWA seeks to bring to consciousness that women are Church and always have been Church. The sub-theme, “Voices of the Silenced” is open-ended. It enables women theologians to re-name Asian women’s spiritual powers, to redefine our collective struggle of doing theology, and reconstruct the distinctive nature of our emancipatory theological reflection. This website is our cyber-journal for EWA news and original writings by EWA members.
In a historic attempt at making Asian Catholic women seen and heard, women theologians from all over Asia gathered at the WE-Train International House, Bangkok, Thailand, for a five-day conference (24th-29th November 2002) entitled “Ecclesia of Women in Asia: Gathering the Voices of the Silenced”.
The dream to hold the EWA conference was born twelve months earlier in India, at an Asian theological conference to reflect on the Asian post Synodal document “Ecclesia in Asia.” At this conference, the 4 women present began to ask some soul-searching questions: Are there women theologians in Asia? Why are they not at our Catholic universities? If they do enter they are often considered as western because they deal with feminist issues. They are also expected to talk only about women, and when they talk about women they are not considered real theologians. Are they influential in curricula development? Many Asian women theologians do contextual theology: What would they say about the Asian reality?
Dr. Evelyn Monteiro, S.C. from India gave the EWA Keynote Address, underlining that the aims of the conference were:
i) to bring together Catholic women doing theology in Asia in academia as well as in grassroots situations;
ii) to provide space for Catholic women theologians to have their voices heard and their thoughts and reflections articulated;
iii) to invite Catholic women theologians – in their power and potential – to evolve a theology from the perspective of Catholic Asian women;
iv) to encourage more Asian Catholic women to engage in theological research, reflection and writing;
v) create networks with different Asian feminist grassroots/theological movements and global feminist grassroots/theological movements in society, Church and academy, which are Catholic, ecumenical and inter-faith
The 30 papers presented were on various themes: Women and Violence, Women and Spirituality, Women and Church Structures, Eco-feminism and Theological Method, Women and the Bible, and Women and World Religions. (Link to list of Papers and Authors) Dr. Lieve Troch, professor of systematic theology in Nijmegen, the Netherlands then looked behind the individual themes and issues to the broader context: of what it means to be “ecclesia”: the democratic assembly of free citizens. (See Conference Reflections below for more on the talk)
Link to the 2002 Call for Papers for the first conference of Ecclesia of Women in Asia
Day 1, Nov. 25, 2002
Day 2, Nov. 26, 2002
Day 3, Nov. 27, 2002, with notes on Lieve Troch’s sharing of her observations and experiences during the 1st EWA conference.
Day 4, Nov. 28, 2002 Country Coordinators and Contacts, EWA 1 themes.
Networking and mutual support are high on the list of EWA’s priorities, which also includes: increasing the visibility of EWA, making contact with major theological associations in the area, developing the women’s perspective of Asian contextual theology, and perhaps even offering short theological courses for women and men in areas cut off from such possibilities.
· Gathering the Voices of the Silenced, by Gemma Cruz and Christine Burke (A news article featured in the December 27 issue of the National Catholic Reporter)
· Dancing the Dance of Liberation by Judette Gallares, on Professor Lieve Troch’s sharing “on the dance of liberation and transformation”, using the hermeneutical methodology of Elizabeth Schuessler-Fiorenza.
· Theology is for Transformation By Antoinette Gutzler. “ Says Prof. Lieve, “The aim of theology done by women in Asia must be to transform ourselves, society and the Church into an ‘ekklesia’ “
Closing Liturgy A memorable enactment of worship and celebration as envisioned for Ecclesia of Women. After the celebration, we wondered if it was proper for us as Catholics to celebrate this way, and we wondered why women’s liturgy cannot be like the liturgy we just had.
The conference was sponsored by the Catholic Committee Against Hunger and for Development CCFD, French acronym) in Paris, Institute of Missiology Missio in Aachen, Germany, and the Swiss Lenten Campaign Fund.