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Womanly Novena: May

 Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet

About the Womanly Novena

A black and white drawing of three women gazing at the viewer, they are obscured by hazy lines
“First Witnesses of the Resurrection” by Marion Honors, CSJ | Learn more about our sister artists

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:

May Novena

For a Synodal Church logo

“Women participating in the synodal processes desire both Church and society to be a place of flourishing, active participation and healthy belonging. Some reports note that the cultures of their countries have made progress in the inclusion and participation of women, progress that could serve as a model for the Church. This lack of equality for women within the Church is seen as a stumbling block for the Church in the modern world.”

Synod Working Document for the Continental Stage, 62

Mary as prophet

A photo of a fresco depicting the Virgin Mary wearing a veil and staring directly at the viewer. An angel appears over her shoulder
A photo of a fresco of the Virgin Mary at the Church of Debra Berhan Selassie in Gondar, Ethiopia. Photo by Flickr user A.Davey.

“Luke’s artistry welds the announcement of Jesus’ birth to the call of Mary as a woman commissioned by God. Biblical scholars point out that in this scene she is engaged for a prophetic task, one in a long line of God-sent deliverers positioned at significant junctures in Israel’s history.… Replete with angelic voice, fear and reassurance, message, objection, and sign, this is a story of Mary being commissioned to carry forward God’s design for redemption. The announcement of her impending motherhood is at the same time her prophetic calling to act for the deliverance of the people. She now takes her place “among those prophets called to give word and witness to the hidden plan of God’s salvific activity not yet seen by other members of the community of faith.”

Mary, Woman of Nazareth: Biblical and Theological Perspectives. United States, Paulist Press, 1989.

Mary says “yes” to this call from God and she begins an “adventure” into the unknown.

“Miriam of Nazareth [is placed] in the company of all ancestors in the faith who heard the word of God and responded with courageous love. Now like Abraham, she sets out in faith, not knowing where she is going. Now like Sarah, she receives power to conceive by this faith, considering the One who promised to be worthy of her trust. Listening to the Spirit, rising to the immense possibilities of her call, she walks by faith in the integrity of her own person. Inspired by Spirit-Sophia, women who make their own decisions before God claim her into their circle.”

Johnson, Elizabeth A.. Truly Our Sister: A Theology of Mary in the Communion of Saints. United Kingdom, Bloomsbury Academic, 2006.


Mary, your son broke so many barriers in his call to women to follow him. Before he was born, you accepted the call to the motherhood of the divine without knowing the consequences. Give us the strength we need to respond to the calls we receive to birth forth something new. Amen.

Missed a month of the novena?

Find additional monthly posts here.

Category: Reflections

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About us

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet are a congregation of Catholic sisters. We, and those who share our charism and mission, are motivated in all things by our profound love of God and our dear neighbors. We seek to build communities and bridge divides between people. Since our first sisters gathered in 1650, our members have been called to “do all things of which women are capable.” The first sisters of our congregation arrived in St. Louis, Missouri in 1836, and we now have additional locations in St. Paul, Albany, Los Angeles, Hawaii, Japan and Peru. Today, we commit to respond boldly to injustice and dare to be prophetic.


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