Ecclesia of Women in Asia

Forum of Asian Catholic Women Theologians

Letters on women communion ministers and on the 2006 earthquake in Jogjakarta.

Women Communion Ministers in Singapore
April, 2006

At last, the day has arrived ...
The Archbishop and his Senate approve the inclusion of women communion ministers taking into consideration that there should be a dress code and adequate preparation and formation be given. It was also noted that the number of women enrolled should be of appropriate proportion to the male! Julia (Singapore)

Hooray. I am glad to hear that women can now be communion ministers. God will work in HIS time.
Congratulations to you all. God bless. Felicity (Malaysia)

This is wonderful news for Singapore women. I was extremely surprised when someone told me just a few days ago that there are no women Eucharist ministers in Singapore, a modern progressive city!!! We in Malaysia, at least in my church in Petaling Jaya had women Eucharistic ministers at least 14 - 15 years ago. Best wishes to all the women in the church
Angeline (Malaysia)

That is very good news. Women in the Philippines have been unofficial communion ministers once in a while but officially, all the communion ministers are men. When my diocese had its synod with women comprising at least 50% of the participants, facilitators, and staff, the role of women in the Church was absolutely not discussed. Women were in the majority among those who prepared the working papers but it was felt that introducing the issue of women's role in the Church would derail discussion on other equally pressing matters. I guess the women thought we could get what we want in the same way we've managed to do so for many many generations. The way things are going, there is really no way the men can justify our exclusion as communion ministers, the women being active in many other ministries, already. But thank you Singapore for leading the way. Shall we see your hand behind this, Julia? Cheers to you, Andrea (Philippines)

It is good news. I cannot say I have a direct hand in it as such decisions and discussions are done at the level of the senate and no women are involved. I have not discussed it , although among women, we are not happy with it and i was just talking about over tea the other day with someone... My last effort was to send out articles on how women are excluded in the readings and the liturgical calander to the schools to celebrate women's day, in it stating that the Church deprives herself of women role models.

I am surprised that it is not official in the Philippine to have women communion ministers.... I saw them everywhere. Women, though unofficial has a lot more say in the Philippines then in Singapore still... we do have a lot of work and a long way to go but we are going hand in hand!!! Hurray! Julia (Singapore)

Like Angeline, I am surprised as I thought Singapore was ahead of us in Malaysia. We have had communion ministers in the parish where I worship, for 15 years, (Jesuit parish,) but there are quite a number of other parishes in Malaysia where this has not happened. In the southern diocese of Melaka-Johore, the Jesuit bishop has also opened alter service to girls. It just needs someone more open -minded to start the ball rolling. Congratulations and we shall remember you all at this historic event. Grace (Malaysia)

First of all, it is good to hear that some inner traditional church structures are moving! On the other hand I am a bit surprised that many of you seem to be so happy with this so called 'progress.' What happens when these girls will be above 12 years old? ( because that was always the issue: women are not allowed to be on the altar, to touch the
divine/communion, because they are not 'pure'. ) My question would be : in what way are we working in the mean time to built 'alternative spiritual leadership and a spirituality of struggle' beyond the traditional framework ( in the traditional framework the women are only added in the ranks of the traditional structures) to make a more inclusive 'ekklesia' ( the full democratic assembly of freeborn citizens) where women and men together challenge and comfort each other in the search for 'the divine', in the search for the transformation of the profane in a more just society, a truly ekklesia...
with love and sisterhood, Lieve. (Netherlands)

Quite a question Lieve... though, our Eucharistic Ministers [EM] are definitely above 12years... we're not talking about altar girls here... While I do think it was just a matter of time that women would officially become EMs here, fact is there already are in most parish, though perhaps not up at the altar. A number bring Holy Communion to the sick and those in the hospital. I was just, yesterday talking to a priest who is part of the Senate here and he said they have been talking about this [Women EM] for sometime and many were asking for women to be officially accepted as EMs. So it seems that for him it was no big deal. Moreover there are a number of other issues still pending. There are priests who are open to dialogue with women at different levels and we must rejoice at small steps, in order to facilitate the bigger ones. While the road is long and really winding... there is a road and only a handful of the brave [women] dare to take it.

The way i see's the women who seek to keep the [Fr only knows] traditions and reject the road to inclusive ekklesia that are the biggest 'problem'. Thank you Lieve for your excellent thought provoking and question... God Bless. Sr. Chris Santhou (Singapore)

Let us congratulate the first step the Church has taken but not sit on this decision. Let us proceed forward. Thanks to the Holy Spirit who inspired the hierarchy to open the door for women in the 21st century. It took 2000 years to recognise the women in the ministry and it may take further and longer time to implement this acceptance if we don't move fast.
Rosaline Costa (Bangladesh)

Earthquake in Indonesia

May 2006

With horror and pain I read of yet another natural disaster hitting Indonesia with an enormous loss of life. That this has happened close to Yogjakarta where we met for EWA II, makes it even personal! I hope and pray that God is with all the people who suffer giving them hope and consolation, giving courage and strength to those who reach out to help the victims. I also hope that all the aid from the rest of the world really reaches those who need it. With prayers and deep concern. Virginia (India)

Together with EWA I-II friends I express my profound sympathy to people in Indonesia, especially the victims. I pray that they may be sustained by God's love and kindness. In Christ, Sr. Kanlaya Trisopa,SHB (Thailand)

It is with pain that I pray for all the sufferings in Indonesia remembering the beautiful people we have met and the places we have visited. I am not sure if this could be received by you in Yogya but we are with you whether you know it or not.
Julia (Singapore)

it is with pain we listen to the news and watch the pictures of the earthquake in your country. We in Srilanka know what it is to be hit by natural disasters.We share your pain and pray for those who suffer that they may find support and consolation from concerned people. with prayers and concern. Canice Fernando (Sri-lanka)

As you and your nation face another calamity in the recent earthquake, and are struggling to come to terms with the loss of life and destruction, I assure you of my sincere prayers. Being with you in your pain and sense of loss with sisterly solidarity. May the Creator-Mother God take each of you into her motherly embrace and fill you with strength and consolation. May you reach out in the Power of the Spirit-God to be of service to your suffering brothers and sisters.
In solidarity with all those who grieve, shalini pbvm, India

Thank you for all of your attention. Thank God, She has saved all my family's life, even though my house has broken and my neighbour's house broke down and almost felt on us. But all the people of my kampong near Syantikara are safe even though many houses were damaged, including my house. For the moment we have to sleep outside. With love, Nunuk (Indonesia)

It is worrying what is happening in Indonesia. The tsunami left thousands of people homeless, orphans and now the earthquake. It is unbelievable how nature does not forgive but takes revenge in its own way. All our friends in Indonesia are in our prayers and memory. We only have to say, fiat, for whatever is happening to us. Only our God the Mother knows what is best for us and why all these calamities are taking place. Let us be united in solidarity, prayers and strengthen each other in spirit. Rosaline Costa (Bangladesh)

Pain and agony filled me as I was watching the havoc done by the earthquake at Yogyakarta- the place that brought the church women of Asia to search together in 2004. It's unimaginable. Still it has hit us. The message from nature is very clear but the pity is that it is always the innocents who become the victims. The sisters of the Cross of Chavanod send their sympathy and concern and we hope and pray that you be strengthened at this moment of pain and anxiety.
May our mother God accompany you during these days and enable you to find generous persons to help you out promptly. With deep concern and prayers, Metti, A. Chennai, South India.

We thank God that you are well and your family too. Nunuk, sorry that your house is damaged. I pray that help will come soon to restore things. It is good to hear from both of you. I am uncomfortable with some who think that the earth is vengeful... it is only natural that the earth moves, she is self regulating. An earthquake is not a revenge on humanity. Neither is the pending volcano eruption nor the Tsunami. But a landslide caused by excessive logging is a consequence that human beings bear for abusing the earth, even then, it is the innocent who suffer. Other issues like global warming is a grave concern. We hold our pain and anger so there is no need to project it onto the earth and turn it into HER vengence. When the earth moves, so do human hearts. We thank God who is present in our human suffering in different ways for different people and for the Holy Spirit who binds us all.

Come Holy Spirit heal the pains and the wounds among us. Reconstruct what has be deconstructed and give us new life... Julia (Singapore)

Nunuk & Intan, It's great to hear that both of you and your families are OK - and indeed so many other friends in Jogja. Virtually every town in Indonesia has somebody living in Jogja, so here in Flores there is much concern. Jogja is the unofficial capital of Indonesia, especially for students . We are doing our little bit with prayer and practical help. Despite a bad harvest and a short fall later this year, people are being very, very generous with the appeal for help from our small Candraditya centre. Sisters and seminarians are out on the streets each day for a collection. Tomorrow is Pentecost - a new beginning with new hope and new strength. Your brother John (Indonesia)

We are very sorry to hear that both of your houses are affected by the earthquake. It is indeed a continuous devastation that is perhaps beyond our imagination. But do know that we hold you and your people in our thoughts and prayers. We also would like to know is there anyway we can show our solidarity with both of you? Please do not hesitate to let us know. May God our Sophia-Wisdom be with you all during this trying times. Love, Angeline, Clare, Chin Chin, Grace, Judith, Ting Jin (Malaysia)

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