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This resource contains the elements you will need to begin creating a safe space in your parish or community for women's voices.

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GUIDELINES FOR CONVENING A LISTENING SESSION ON WOMEN’S EXPERIENCE IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

This outline provides guidance for a two-hour Listening Session designed for almost any size group. 

Groups may be broken into smaller cohorts of 4-5 participants for the discussion sessions in order to ensure that all voices are heard within the allotted time, so the overall group can be large or small and can take place in any setting (living room, church hall, library meeting room etc.).  

NEEDS

Templates provided in this packet

  • Sign in sheet
  • Opening prayer resource for each participant
  • Introduction/background summary for the Listening Session Convener
  • Follow-up website links for each participant
  • Background information

Not provided in this packet

  • Pencils/pens
  • Refreshments, if desired

Each Listening Session convener should familiarize themselves with all of the material that is enclosed.  In particular, the convener is responsible for the Introduction and can use the attached “Background summary” to launch the Listening Session. Convener should also have a plan for dividing the assembly into small groups if necessary.

PROCESS

Welcome 

As participants arrive at the Listening Session site, provide each with a prayer sheet and pen or pencil.  Begin the gathering with all participants in one place and lead them in the prayer.  Then break into smaller discussion groups as needed.

Introduction and Background  (10 minutes)

The convener will welcome all and present the rationale and inspiration for the Listening Session, following the background notes provided in this packet. Be sure to also include the practical directives, explaining the process of small group discussion, the need for note-takers, and the etiquette of small group process.

All participants will be directed to the Listening to Women website Survey Monkey tool after the session to record their impressions and reflections.  With permission, the appropriate anonymous data will be delivered to the Synod authorities, U.S. bishops, and posted on the Listening to Women website.

Prayer (5 minutes)

See separate sheet.

Discussions in small groups (90 minutes)

Discussion #1 (20 minutes)

  • What brought you to this gathering? 

Discussion #2 (20 minutes)

  • When have you felt heard in your parish (or faith community)? When have you felt neglected or silenced? 

Discussion #3 (30 minutes)

  • 3 (1) How effectively is our Church offering leadership roles, pastoral care, and support for women? Such as:
    • in family life
    • in ministry within the church
    • in sexuality
    • in considering reproductive health
    • through stages of their life cycle
    • faith formation and education
  • 3 (2) What can be done to improve engagement and/or pastoral care for women? In an ideal parish, what groups or support would you welcome and participate in?  What would engage you?

Discussion #4 (20 minutes) 

  • How can we (this group, this parish) lead on this issue? In your view, what change would be most important to better support and welcome women in your parish? In the Church? 

Concluding Gathering (15 minutes)

The Listening Session convener will bring the group together and pose one final question for general discussion (be sure to designate a recorder for this session!):

  • What would you envision and want the Church to be or do for your daughter or the next generation? What do you hope to see in your lifetime? Do you have any other comments? 

After the allotted time, thank all for their participation and remind them to visit the Listening to Women website to complete the survey, sharing their reflections of the session and future participation.  With permission, the appropriate anonymous data will be delivered to the Synod authorities, U.S. bishops, and posted on the Listening to Women website.

Please submit your survey responses within 10 days after the Listening Session.

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