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Ignatian seminar: The inspiration of Mary and of the Ignatian Spirituality on the role of women in the Church

“Come and see: with Mary, see” was the inspiration for the 12th Study Seminar on Ignatian Spirituality (SEEI) that took place from November 17 to 19, in Fátima, Portugal, and was organized by the Portuguese Province of the Society of Jesus. About 400 people from different communities and Ignatian groups, scattered throughout the country, gathered for two days of debate and sharing. In the light of Mary, whose apparition is celebrated in this centennial year, SEEI was an opportunity to meet and reflect on the paths that the Church and each Christian are called to follow. The role of women in the Church was one of the main topics of the event.

“Women must have in the Church the role they had for Jesus in the Gospel”, said Father Vasco Pinto de Magalhães sj, speaker at the event. “Women should have an increasingly active and considered voice, and should have the intervening role that is due to them, at all levels.” About the priesthood of women, Fr. Pinto de Magalhães encouraged the reflection on the best way “to mature, in the Church, the feminine side of the sacerdotal charisma received in the baptism”.

The Italian theologian Stella Morra, professor at the Gregorian Pontifical University, stated that “women in the Church already animate the lives of Christian communities, contribute to pastoral action at the local and national level, teach theology, and in many cases, guide liturgical acts in the absence of the priest." Stella Morra encouraged a collective and fearless discernment by the Church as a diverse and collective people, the "us ecclesial", looking at the present times as promising for the conversation about diversity in the Church.

Other topics of Marian inspiration were part of SEEI: "the openness to the Spirit", addressed by Fr. Carlos Carneiro sj, or "the vocation for justice" by Joana Morais e Castro. Inspiring personal stories were also told by women and men who, like Mary, let God incarnate in their lives. Margarida Alvim, Teresa Olazabal, Isabel Figueiredo and Filipe Costa Lima shared some of the testimonies.Organized since 1991, SEEI takes place every two years. The book with the speeches of the Study Seminar on Ignatian Spirituality 2017 will be available soon.

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