About the Womanly Novena
At our most recent congregational chapter, our congregation made a commitment to support women. “Striving to be beacons of hope, we commit to…walk with women as we claim our voice and work toward an inclusive church and society…”
The worldwide Catholic Church is in the midst of a Synod on Synodality, which has sought input from Catholics around the globe “to provide an opportunity for the entire People of God to discern together how to move forward on the path towards being a more synodal Church in the long-term.”
As the church prepares for the next stage of the synod, we invite you to pray with us a womanly novena, each month for nine months, for a more inclusive church. Each month, we will share:
- A quote from the synod document, entitled, “‘Enlarge the space of your tent’ (Is 54:2) Working Document for the Continental Stage of the Synod,” specifically paragraphs 60-65 on “Rethinking women’s participation.”
- A brief biography of a woman in the church who inspires us
- A prayer for our church and society
“In different forms, the problem is present across cultural contexts and concerns the participation and recognition of laywomen as well as women religious. The report from Superiors of Institutes of Consecrated Life notes: ‘Sexism in decision-making and Church language is prevalent in the Church… As a result, women are excluded from meaningful roles in the life of the Church, discriminated against by not receiving a fair wage for their ministries and services. Women religious are often regarded as cheap labor. There is a tendency—in some Churches—to exclude women and to entrust ecclesial functions to permanent deacons; and even to undervalue religious life without the habit, without regard for the fundamental equality and dignity of all baptized Christian faithful, women and men.'”
“In Japan, pressures to conform are extreme. So extreme, in fact, that when coupled with the absolute terror of being an embarrassment to society, people sometimes do the unthinkable: they voluntarily vanish, as in, erase themselves from existence. Not governmental records, of course, but their lives. These vanished people, johatsu, amount to roughly 100,000 per year since the mid-1990s, per the New York Post. In a society where pressure is so vast—opting out is sometimes a simpler, even happier choice.”
The place to which they disappear is a very poor section of Tokyo called Sanya. Families are left to wonder what happened to their loved one. Often, when people who are homeless or day laborers die in Sanya, no one knows their true names, leaving no way to contact their families.
Sister Noriko Nakamura, a member of the Mercedarian Missionaries of Berriz, established Star House in Sanya and has worked for over 30 years to create a list of the deceased to honor that they existed. In her love, they did not disappear. Her kindness to those living on the streets in Sanya has earned her the name Mother Teresa of Japan.
Kind God, you give us the witness of generosity and perseverance which Sister Noriko shows the world to be a model for our own lives. Give us the perseverance to seek out those who are invisible and forgotten and bring the grace of their lives to light. Amen.
Missed a month of the novena?
Find additional monthly posts here.