The unique and enduring leadership and contributions by women of faith in Australia over the past 75 years was the topic of discussion at the annual John Wallis Memorial Lecture in Melbourne this week. Source: Melbourne Catholic.
More than 100 people attended the lecture, hosted by Highways and Byways – A Community of Service, to mark the 75th year of the Missionary Sisters of Service.
The night featured journalist and broadcaster Geraldine Doogue in conversation with Sr Stancea Vichie, congregational leader of the Missionary Sisters of Service, and Zuleyha Keskin, from the Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation.
Ms Doogue discussed leadership as a desirable trait in today’s world. She began by citing a poem which is commonly attributed to Nelson Mandela but which was composed by author Marianne Williamson.
“You playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone, and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Ms Doogue said many females educated in the Catholic educational system have been given mixed messages regarding the idea of both “rising above” and “playing small”.
“We were told to be bold,” she said, contrasting that with the notion of staying humble.
“Now that is really tough and quite a mixed message. Ironically, we have to be prepared to take the risk of no longer being fabulously good nurturers, I think that’s where we thought the leadership lay and I feel so strongly about the value of nurturing, mentoring, that absolute base level of bringing people along with you which is exactly what the Sisters of Service have done,” she said.
Sr Stancea said leadership was about “reading the signs of the times”, saying that it “goes hand in hand with John Wallis [founder of the MSS] and reading ‘big maps’,” she said. “Not to be in a cocoon.”
Ms Keskin reiterated the point of balancing pride and humility. “We are living in a world that sees humility as being meek or that you’ve got self-esteem issues, so you’ve got to navigate through those things which aren’t easy as well.”
Highways and Byways presents Women of Faith Leading the Way! (Melbourne Catholic)