EWA XI: Ecclesia of Women as Synodal Third Space

  • Hybrid Conference
  • Online Platform: Zoom
  • Targeted On-site Venue: Vila São José, Macau
  • Date: June 26-30, 2024

In case we are unable to proceed with the onsite aspects of the conference, the event will still push through online.

WHO ARE WE?

Ecclesia of Women in Asia (EWA) is an academic forum of Catholic women theologians in Asia. EWA encourages and assists Catholic women in Asia to engage in research, reflection, and writing from a feminist perspective. It invites women towards doing theology that: a) is inculturated and contextualized in Asian realities; b) builds on the spiritual experience and praxis of the socially excluded and marginalized; c) promotes mutuality and the integrity of creation; d) engages in dialogue with other disciplines, Christian denominations, and religions/faiths.

EWA was born in 2002, when 55 women theologians from 17 Asian countries gathered in Bangkok, Thailand, for a conference entitled “Gathering the Voices of the Silenced: Ecclesia of Women in Asia. In 2022, EWA celebrated its 20th anniversary. (See https://ecclesiaofwomenblog.wordpress.com/ for the history of EWA).

This Call for Presentations (Papers/Creative Works) and Participants for the XIth conference of EWA is extended to all Catholic women doing theology in Asia at the grassroots, pastoral, and/or professional level. There is also space for 10% of the participants to come from other faith traditions or outside Asia.

THEME AND CONTEXT

Pope Francis has convened a Synod of Bishops to reflect on Synodality from 2021 to 2023. This entails a process of consultation at various levels in the Church. Since synodality implies a people that journeys together as Church, one of the objectives of  the synodal process is identified as “living a participative and inclusive ecclesial process that offers everyone—especially those who for various reasons find themselves on the margins—the opportunity to express themselves and to be heard”. It also calls for “examining how responsibility and power are lived in the Church as well as the structures by which they are managed” and “exploring participatory ways of exercising responsibility in the proclamation of the Gospel and in the effort to build a more beautiful and habitable world.”(Preparatory Document,No.2). This process is rightly described then as “a journey of growing authentically towards the communion and mission that God calls the Church to live out in the third millennium” (vademecum 1.3).

With the discussions on the synodal process already initiated, it is now an opportune time for women to voice out their concerns about the Church and redefine what synodality means for them and for all the excluded with whom they are in solidarity. Concerns about the present way of being Church have been raised at the EWA 10 Conference. Some participants have observed that synodality has been lacking in the Church because of its clericalized hierarchical structuring and  patriarchal leadership.  Consequently, the laity, particularly women, do not participate in the decision making bodies of the Church.

In this situation, it is imperative to rethink Church and its mission in today’s world. Women are clamoring for a listening, dialogical, and service-oriented Church that is a non-hierarchical communion of a “discipleship of equals,” marked by mutuality, relationality, and inclusivity. There is need for reimagining Ecclesia as a third space’ wherein liminal and marginal voices can be heard. Leadership in the Church needs to be redefined in ways that are empowering to all the marginalized sections. Small communities and liminal spaces emerging from local contexts from below demand recognition and mainstreaming. A feminist/womanist transformation of the Church can lead to a more discerning and imaginative way of being Church, that is more vibrant, authentic, just, and totally at the service of the Reign of God.

It is against this backdrop we envisage the Ecclesia of Women as a synodal third space  that redefines synodality from below and from the perspective of the excluded. A third space is an in-between space for those who seem to fall into the cracks of mainstream or officially recognized spaces. Agnes Brazal, one of the members of EWA, has written:

“These ‘in-between ’ spaces provide the terrain for elaborating strategies of selfhood—singular or communal —that initiate new signs of identity, and innovative sites of collaboration, and contestation in the act of defining the idea of society itself.”[1] The “in-between space” is a site for negotiating nationhood, community interest, and cultural values, and is thus also a site of hybridity.[2]

We are looking for bold papers and presentations that explore experiences of liminality and contribute to theologies that transgress traditions that exclude women, other marginalized genders, sexual orientations, and gender identities, and other vulnerable sectors in society and the earth.

Ecclesia of Women as a synodal third space implies reimagining Church structures and ecclesiastical leadership. These considerations may be examined from systematic, Scriptural, moral, spiritual, liturgical, pastoral, and/or missiological perspectives.

KEY THEMES

The following key themes are derived from the different facets of “lived synodality” found in the preparatory document of the Synod on Synodality, with a special incorporation of a feminist perspective and emphasis on women (Synod of Bishops 2021a, 34–37).

  • Women as Journeying Companions
  • Listening to Women’s Voices
  • Women Speaking Out
  • Celebrating as Women
  • Women’s Co-responsibility in the Church
  • Women’s Participation in the Dialogue Between Church and Society
  • Women’s Participation in Ecumenical Dialogue
  • Feminist Perspectives on Authority and Participation in the Church
  • Women’s Agency in Discerning and Deciding
  • Forming Ourselves as Women in Synodality

These or any other daring application of  the notion of synodality, in relation to the mission of the Church in the 21st century, could be explored.

FOR PAPER PRESENTERS

The deadline for submission of a one-page description of the paper is on March 30, 2023. The one-page description should include: the title of the paper, rationale for choosing the topic, statement of the problem, methodology, significance of the study (contribution in terms of new knowledge and potential impact), and main resources. In terms of methodology, dialogue of theology with feminist theories and other disciplines (e.g. sociology, gender studies, peace studies, race and ethnicity, postcolonial and development studies, human rights, international relations) is highly encouraged. Co-authorship is also allowed.

The paper should have never been published.

A vetting committee will conduct a blind-review of the submissions to identify those who could be paper-presenters, taking into account the following criteria: relevance to the theme, consideration of the Asian contextual perspective, originality of insight, methodology, and organization of the paper, as well as representation by country. Presenters may indicate whether they prefer to attend the conference online or onsite through the pre-registration form below, but the vetting committee will select which papers may be presented onsite. Two papers will also be chosen for the video-conferencing with partner universities in the United States of America and other countries.

By June 30, 2023 , those who have submitted their one-page description of their proposed paper will be informed as to whether they have been accepted as paper-presenters at the conference. Paper presenters are expected to submit a paper of around 3000-5000 words (including references), on or before December 31, 2023 . Selected papers will be considered for a publishable outcome.

FOR CREATIVE WORK PRESENTERS

Submit a short description/abstract (250 words) of the theme, the content, and the mode or medium of presentation (art, play, prayer, poem, song, hypertext explorations, multimedia texts, etc.). The deadline for submission of the description is on March 30, 2023.  The creative work must be connected to the theme of the conference. These works can be posted on our website: https://ecclesiaofwomen.com/.

PROCESS OF THE CONFERENCE

The papers will be circulated to all participants for reading before the conference. There will be online and onsite presentations. The conference will consist of plenary and parallel group sessions, with onsite and online components. The plenary and parallel group sessions will be a time for further discussion and critique of the papers. The conference will provide opportunities for deep reflection and expanding awareness of issues from other Asian countries, input, discussion, prayer, and networking.

SUBMISSIONS

Those who are interested in writing a paper for this conference must submit a one-page description of the topic/abstract on or before March 30, 2023, and a full paper by December 31, 2023.

Those interested in a creative work presentation should submit their descriptions by March 30, 2023, at the latest. 

Please submit your abstract and full paper to the EWA XI Secretary, Marinda Chan, via email: kchan@ses.gtu.edu.

PRE-REGISTRATION

You may indicate your initial interest to join the conference by filling out the following Online Application form for presenters https://bit.ly/EWA11ApplicationForm

FUTURE CORRESPONDENCE

It is preferable that all correspondence – including sending of the final paper – be done through e-mail to the EWA Secretary, Marinda Chan, at: kchan@ses.gtu.edu.

Coordinating and Support Team (2022-2024)

Coordinating Team

  • Coordinator: Rae Sanchez (Philippines)
  • Assistant Coordinator: Shalini Mulackal (India)
  • Secretary: Marinda Chan (Macau)
  • Treasurer: Stephanie Puen (Philippines)
  • Consultants: Mary Yuen (Hong Kong), Kochurani Abraham (India), Sharon Bong (Malaysia)

Support Team

  • Web Coordinator: Diana Veloso (Philippines)
  • Joint Treasurer: Agnes Brazal (Philippines)
  • Journal Editors (EWA 10 – to be published): Agnes Brazal (Philippines) and Rasika Pieris (Sri Lanka)
  • Journal Editors (EWA 11 – to be published): Kochurani Abraham (India) and Stephanie Puen (Philippines)

[1]Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (New York: Routledge, 1994), 2.

[2]Agnes M. Brazal, A Theology of Southeast Asia: Liberation-Postcolonial Ethics in the Philippines (Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2019), “Streams of Postcolonialism”.

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