Indigenous women ministry leaders are received by Pope Francis

Pope Francis receives three women ministry leaders from the Amazon – Yesica Patiachi, Sr. Laura Vicuña and Patricia Gualinga – on June 1 (photo by Vatican Media).

We’re delighted to share with you the extraordinary news that Pope Francis received three prophetic indigenous women ministry leaders from the Amazon in a historic meeting at the Apostolic Palace Library last Thursday, June 1. 

Franciscan Sr. Laura Vicuña Pereira Manso (Brazil), Patricia Gualinga (Ecuador), and Yesica Patiachi (Peru) journeyed to Rome for a private audience with the Holy Father to engage in a dialogue about the roles of women in ministry and to share their concerns about protecting the ecosystem of the Amazon territories and the human rights of indigenous peoples. Vatican News reported on this unprecedented meeting in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and my colleague Casey Stanton wrote a piece for America. (Translation tip: If you open these articles in Google Chrome and right click on the page, you will get a dialogue box offering to translate the article.) 

*Caption 1

Sr. Laura Vicuña gave Pope Francis the memory of our intercontinental synodal pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City which was organized by Discerning Deacons and the Women and Ministeriality Thematic Core Group of the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon-CEAMA. 

As they discussed the mission of women in the church and ministries for women in the church, Sr. Laura shared that Pope Francis told them in the conversation that there is no going back on the mission that women have been carrying out in the Church since long ago. The Holy Father encouraged them to continue this mission of being a Church that goes out, a Samaritan Church that serves, that is in the peripheries, and that is caring for life where it is threatened.

Pope Francis is seen scrolling through the memory of our pilgrimage in this Vatican News video in Spanish.

*Caption 2

The three indigenous women are leaders in the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon (CEAMA) and the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM). Sr. Laura Vicuña and Patricia serve as vice-presidents of CEAMA, and Yesica serves as vice-president of REPAM. With the support of Pope Francis, CEAMA is the first ecclesial conference in the world to include women in its governance structure. 

“Pope Francis represents the new breath of the Spirit, the springtime in the Church,” Sr. Laura told Vatican News. “Once again we are living this spring and I feel that Pope Francis is leading these changes. Real changes, and there is no turning back because they are changes inspired by the foundation that is Jesus Christ”.

*Caption 3

The women were there to speak on behalf of indigenous communities whose lives and land are increasingly threatened by governmental policies that prioritize business interests over the common good of the people and the care of our common home. 

Their witness points to the renewal of the Church through a prophetic diaconate for a synodal Church. We give our thanks for the Church in the Amazon and for the courageous and humble witness of Sr. Laura, Patricia and Yesica in making this journey to Rome. And we give our thanks to the Holy Father for receiving and listening to women ministry leaders who love the Church and who accompany their people – especially those on the margins. 

Their witness points to the renewal of the Church through a prophetic diaconate for a synodal Church. We give our thanks for the Church in the Amazon and for the courageous and humble witness of Sr. Laura, Patricia and Yesica in making this journey to Rome. And we give our thanks to the Holy Father for receiving and listening to women ministry leaders who love the Church and who accompany their people – especially those on the margins. 

Patricia Gualinga, Yesica Patiachi and Sr. Laura Vicuña give thanks to everyone who has been praying for them and their journey to meet with Pope Francis.

We also want to share with you that in mid-June, Casey and I will be journeying to the Amazon – Porto Velho, Brazil – to spend a week with Sr. Laura Vicuña, to meet with indigenous communities, and to deepen our understanding of how the Holy Spirit is in movement at the peripheries and speaking a Word back to the rest of the Church. 

*Photo Captions:

1.- Sr. Laura Vicuña presents to Pope Francis the memory of our pilgrimage to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City organized by Discerning Deacons and the Women and Ministeriality Thematic Core Group of the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon-CEAMA (photo by Vatican Media).

2.- Patricia Gualinga, Sr. Laura Vicuña and Yesica Patiachi (photo by Pilar Timpane).

3.- Indigenous women ministry leaders from the Amazon present Pope Francis with artwork that expresses their hopes that the Amazon territories can live in harmony with the beauty of Creation (photo by Vatican Media). 

For a more in-depth understanding of what is at stake in the Amazon, view this dialogue event in Rome (in Spanish).

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Organization
“This was such a great learning experience for all of us, and even more so, a chance to build momentum and connection.”
St. Basil's Catholic Parish
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Organization
“We are proud to stand on the shoulders of the many women who have ministered to the people of God throughout time!”
Holy Name of Jesus Parish
New Orleans, LA
Organization
“Learning about the history of women in the diaconate gave context to efforts to enable women’s participation in the diaconate today, and it was powerful to celebrate St. Phoebe and uplift the ministry of women in our own community.”
St. John Fisher Parish
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

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