Women Commission becomes Office for Participation of Women

As part of a major restructure of Australian Catholic Bishops conference bodies, Kimberley Davies has been named as director of the renamed Office for Participation of Women, formerly the Commission for Australian Catholic Women.

Bishop Michael Malone, a member of the Bishops' Commission for Church Ministry, announced Ms Davies' appointment on Monday. He also announced the appointment of Sue Doepel as Project Officer for the Commission. Ms Doepel will be working with Kimberley in the Office for the Participation of Women.

The Office was formerly known as the Commission for Australian Catholic Women (CACW) and was renamed to conform with the recent restructure of the Bishops Conference, the Bishops' media release said.

The Conference had earlier in May announced that the Commission for Australian Catholic Women would become the Council for Australian Catholic Women. It is not known what is behind the latest change.

Ms Davis has spent her career in Catholic education in Queensland and was most recently Assistant Principal - Religious Education at St Mary's Primary School Ipswich. She has a Masters in Educational Leadership and recently completed the CACW's initiative, the Graduate Certificate in Interfaith Relations.

She said she was excited by the opportunities which lay ahead of her in the renamed Office.

"I believe the future is about women and men - clergy, religious and lay members of the Church working together in partnership; recognising the unique gifts of each other that will enhance the life and mission of the Church," she said.

Ms Doepel is a mother of four, and currently living in Canberra. Her background is in teaching, both primary and secondary and she has a Graduate Diploma in Religious Education.

"I am a woman, passionate about living and sharing the Gospel, and reaching out to others with the love of Christ," she said. "My interests lie in social justice, inter-faith dialogue, building community relationships and seeing lives transformed through meaningful participation in the Catholic Church."

The Chairperson of the Office, Geraldine Hawkes said she was pleased that the new working arrangements for Ms Davis and Doepel allowed for "work/home/community balance" and said this flexibility would model the very values that encourage the greater participation of women in the life of the Church.

Meanwhile, OnlineCatholics reports that a young member of the former Commission, Zara Tai, will be speaking about the role of women in leadership positions in the Church at an event to mark the feast day of St Mary Magdalene.

According to the organiser's website (www.acmica.org), Ms Tai will be speaking this Saturday alongside Bernice Moore, Convener of Women and the Australian Church, in Sydney's suburban Newtown.

Office for the Participation of Women (Media Release 18/7/06)
Mary of Magdala has staying power (OnlineCatholics 19/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Council for Australian Catholic Women
A Pastoral Letter on the Restructure of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 11/5/06 - subscription required)
The Mary Tradition - Mary, Mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene - 22 July (event)

Restructure for Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (CathNews 12/5/06)
Bishops to establish a Commission for Australian Catholic Women (CathNews 19/5/00)

19 Jul 2006