WUCWO General Assembly – Day 1

October 18, 2018

WUCWO General Assembly
Date: Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Theme: WUCWO Women, Carriers of “living water” to a world which thirsts for Peace
Day 1: Study Days

Representing the League at the quaternary general assembly are WUCWO North American board representative and League Honourary Life Member Velma Harasen, National President Anne-Marie Gorman, and National President-Elect Fran Lucas. Also in attendance were National Secretary-Treasurer Janet McLean, National Past President and Chairperson of Laws Margaret Ann Jacobs, Honourary Life Member Betty Anne Brown Davidson and Executive Director Kim Scammell.

The day began with travel to the opening Eucharistic celebration at Our Lady of Victories Cathedral in Dakar, followed by opening ceremonies at the Dakar Grand Theatre. Delegates from around the world were warmly welcomed by the president of the Republic of Senegal Macky Sall, the apostolic nuncio Archbishop Michael Wallace Banach (Memphis), Cardinal Théodore-Adrien Sarr (S. Lucia a Piazza d”Armi), the WUCWO Vice President for Africa Rosaline Nganku Menga, the WUCWO board member from Senegal Monique Faye, and the WUCWO President General Maria Giovanna Ruggieri.
The study days began in earnest during the afternoon session. Over two days, delegates would listen to six panelists and then meet in groups according to their language to share experiences, get to know each other, and impart on the similarities and differences that exist between contributions from the panelists in relation to the reality in their own countries. Each group was tasked with determining:

1. What are the main challenges that the church proposes today for action as carriers of “living water”?
2. Based on what was discussed, what priorities would you recommend for the work of WUCWO?
3. From the list of recommendations, each group was to choose one priority by consensus.

With this goal in mind, the delegates listened attentively to the panelists:

1. Our World Thirst for Peace, Dr. Isabel Recaverran, Founder and Coordinator of the Women’s Forum of the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly of the European Parliament (Peru). Margaret Ann shares the speaker’s message: “Women have always been able to address themselves through dancing, singing, etc. but today there exists a challenge – tolerance. There is a need to allow more women to be integrated into society. Living in violence in everyday life challenges independent women and society. Women subjugate themselves, leading to corruption and violence. Men are taught be their fathers and considered superior but women don’t have this training and thus living is difficult and challenging. Women face issues including: degrading arrogance, corruption, land owner corruption; these hinder the role of women. We must stop these challenges. They need to become free women, fight against anger, demand safety, equal opportunities and inclusiveness. Many conflicts of the past (Israel and Palestine, Venezuela, Nigeria, Sudan…) confirm that we have to fight against them. Extremists create a critical radicalization. There is a need to identify things that can be done to reverse the thinking. We need women to develop a new national; recuperate from the bad times. We need to have HOPE – have a panel to choose a path forward, put together statistics. We need to act against corruption and violence; change our attitude and behaviour; work together and put together a plan of action. We are a group of women ready to lead into action and change.”

2. Family and Migration, Dr. Anne Therese Gallagher, President of the International Catholic Migration Commission (Australia). Fran conveyed some thoughts from the speaker’s presentation as follows: Migration in the family can bring much heartache and problems to families for those who leave and those left behind. Migration is part of our humanity and as true today as ever. More migrants [are] on the move today than ever before in history. Many travel well and arrive safely. Many are being forced to leave their home not because they want to. Poverty is one reason why. The crisis is more complex and deeper than we are aware. Countries would be culturally and economically poorer without migration. Mary are deprived of the most basic rights. They do not get the attention and consideration they deserve. Most times the male is the one chosen in the family to be immigrated to be able to send funds to help them survive at home. Approximately 9 million children in the Philippines are growing up without parents. Labour migration can bring security to families as it can supply funds for the elderly. Women can get employment where it may not be doable for them at home. However, when the migrant is the main caregiver, the remaining family suffers. Unaccompanied/unsupervised children suffer the most. War caused them to be pulled away from the family. Family is a good that society cannot do without and is a natural function of society needing protection. Family reunification needs to be front and centre. Separating mothers and fathers from children cannot be good. Laws are needed to prevent that. WUCWO’s mission is even more urgent today. When WUCWO was first started it was said “Let us not dream. We have no time to do so, let us prepare for the future with serious and well organized action”. We need peace, justice, love and compassion in our future to unite all into one human family.

The video presentation by Dr. Gallagher will be available on the WUCWO website wucwo.org/index.php/en/ following the general assembly.

3. What is happening to our common home, Sr. Dr. Therese Samake, Vice-President of the Catholic University of West Africa (Mali). Anne related the speaker’s message as follows: “What happened to our common home – past, present and future depends on women.” Dr. Samake focused her address on the continent of Africa. She used Pope Francis’s writings to emphasize the imperative of change with regard to health of the environment, a present crisis. She said women were responsible for determining how waste would be handled, and have to reduce the amount of waste. Waste production soils the beauty of God’s creation. Dr. Samadka emphasized call for change in mentality and behaviours. She connected the theme of “women, carriers of living water” to consider this in term of the spiritual dimension. Jesus as Jacob’s well reminds us that not just material waste is ruining the world and that Jesus, the living water, will satisfy our thirst.

Following the third panelist, the assembly recessed for the evening. Day 2 would begin with mass, followed by the final three panelists and the working group sessions.

 

Logo image courtesy of WUCWO website