STORY: ZAINABU ISSAH
THERESIAN International, a contemporary organisation for women in the Catholic Church, has opened its annual conference in Accra.
The conference is designed to offer a holistic education for women who seek to balance complex challenges of contemporary living with their gospel values in order to achieve their set goals.
It is also to provide an opportunity for lay women in the Catholic church and other Christan women to come together as one community in order to experience total growth and enrichment of other women.
The four-day conference is on the theme: “Challenges of Women of Faith in the 21st Century”.
Speaking at the conference, the President of Theresian International, Mrs Ellen Moreaux, said with the advancement in modern technology, some women were tempted to fall for material and worldly things which makes it difficult for them to secure their faith in God.
She said there was the need for women to muster the strength to resist the distraction of the attraction.
“As we live in the midst of this modern culture, the sweet deceit of secular humanism attracts us with an ever-increasing intensity and you need to fight it,” she said.
Mrs Moreaux, however, called on the women to explore new avenues to communicate the gospel values in ways that would demonstrate the relevance of Catholicism to the modern lifestyle.
In a speech read on her behalf, the Minister of Women and Children Affairs, Madam Juliana Azumah-Mensah, lauded the organisation for reaching out with gospel values to women who are into prostitution, sexually abused and ravaged as instruments of sexual torture.
She said women continued to be marginalised and abused; their fundamental human rights were also frowned upon even though there were laws which frowned on the negative practices.
She, however, urged the delegates to always bring Christian values and principle to whatever they do in their homes, community and society.
The President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Most Reverend Joseph Osei Bonsu, who was the guest speaker for the occasion, advised the women to achieve spirituality at all times no matter the circumstances.
He said even though some women in Ghana were faced with so many problems which were found in their cultural and religious beliefs, there was the need for them to rise above them at all times in order to achieve victory.
He listed some of the problems which included Female Genetal Mutilation (FGM), widowhood rites, trokosi, sexual harassment, domestic violence among others.
“Some of these problems are ongoing and others will take a while to fade away but you need to be strong in the Lord and fight it away at all times”, he encouraged.
Adding his voice, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ghana, Most Reverend Leon Kalenga, urged the women to rise above their challenges so as to thrive despite them.
The opening ceremony was preceded with a mass which was officiated by the Metropolitan Archbishop of Accra, Most Rev Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle.
Other dignitaries present included the Executive Director of TI, Madam Victoria Schmidt, President of the National Council of Catholic Women, Rev Fr Andrew Campbell, Mrs Afua Amo-Adare and Professor Brigid Sackey, who was the Chairperson for the occasion.
The Theresian Ministry is a contemporary women’s organisation in the Catholic Church and was founded by Monsignor Elwood C. Voss in Pueblo, Colorado in 1961.
Msgr Voss founded Theresians because “there were few organisations, if any, that existed for women themselves. Women were very accustomed to giving themselves in church and society, but were not often provided with in-depth opportunities for self-enrichment leading to personal growth." He envisioned an organisation that would provide an opportunity for lay women in the church to come together in the community to experience intellectual and spiritual enrichment.
The group is under the patronage of St Therese of Lisieux.
The Theresian membership of Catholic and Christian lay women and Catholic sisters has now expanded to eight countries namely Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Philippines, Thailand and the United States of America with nearly 2,000 members.
This year’s conference comprised 34 members from Brazil, Philippines, Thailand and the United States participating. The host country, Ghana, has about 150 members participating.
The Theresians pledged their support by prayerfully nurturing, affirming and empowering one another to become the women God wanted them to be by living according to five dimension — Spirituality; Education; Community; Vocation and Ministry to grow in gospel values.