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Dakar: some discoveries by Femina Europa - France

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Four members of Femina Europa participated in the General Assembly. Alix Lejard, delegate of Femina Europa to the European Parliament, Virginie Rotheÿ, WUCWO representative to UNESCO, Marion Senellart, treasurer, and Myriam Fourchaud, lay missionary and writer.

“King’s daughters”
First of all, the members of Femina Europa appreciated the informal meetings with the other participants, especially during meals and breaks, which were an opportunity to discover the different talents and experiences
of women in action in this field. In the diversity of geopolitical contexts, they noted the great unity of Christian identity that makes us all feel like "king’s daughters," according to Myriam's favourite expression, from Psalm 45. Our delegates underlined the quality of the speakers, which allowed a rich debate in the groups. It is not possible to tell everything here, of course, and we apologise for that. In her speech, Dr. Linda Ghisoni, Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, urged Catholic women not to succumb to activism or laziness and to move forward with confidence. Our delegates greatly appreciated the speech by Maribeth, Vice President General, which painted a realistic and clear picture of the state of the world by encouraging us to joyfully participate in progress for the common good, and the one by María Lía about the Cross; WUCWO has to have a vertical and a horizontal reach and both must be kept together! That is true! We will remember it!

The importance of integral education
An African teacher, a nun committed to young people, confided to us an impression of her that had a big impact on us. When she arrived at the General Assembly she was distressed, but she left full of hope. In fact, experience has shown her that educating girls is no guarantee of their success in life. Because an education that does not take into account the spiritual dimension does not meet expectations. It is not enough to fill one's head, it is also necessary to know how to transmit the meaning of life. But now she had the hope that they would find their vocation as women thanks to the theology of the body. Policies against motherhood and marriage as the stable and faithful union of a man and a woman constitute a threat to women's spiritual life and integral development. Self-confidence comes from admiration for the beauty of life and creation, received as a gift from God the Father, which we receive with gratitude, and which we can then transmit with joy. The work of the group made it possible to draw up a Plan of Action for the next mandate. We were especially pleased with the adoption of Resolutions 2 and 3 on the family, which incorporate the proposal of Femina Europa:

"promotion of the Church's teaching on the spiritual meaning of human sexuality (theology of the body)" and "integral formation of men and women in the recognition and respect of their equal and complementary dignity."

Mission at UNESCO
We are pleased that the mandate of Virginie Rotheÿ, member of the Board of Femina Europa at UNESCO, will be maintained for four years. Catholic women have something to say at UNESCO. This institution, founded after the Second World War, aims to achieve peace among nations through education, science and culture. As Pope John Paul II recalled in his historic speech of June 1980: men are beings of culture, and Christianity has always  been a stimulation for development. Catholic women are the heart and hands of the Church in education and development; their experience in this field is recognised by UNESCO. Our mission is to continue to care for the human family and man as a spiritual being and to reject all temptations of alienation and dehumanisation. We are the "sentinels of the invisible." We left Senegal full of energy for this mission and constantly giving thanks for the call we are asked to live: “WUCWO women are called to holiness for the evangelisation and the integral development of the world.”

An encounter incarnated in Christ with Mary
Of course, it is very useful to have all the talks on WUCWO’s website for those who could not come, but we do not regret having made the trip, because it is essential to know the people "in their totality," body and mind, face to face, to be in the atmosphere, to experience the event with all the five senses, to feel the warmth, to perceive the perfumes and sounds, which give the encounter its true flavour and make it a real celebration for all of us and not make it just a disembodied, cold and impersonal debate of ideas. Praying together every day is a true gift that strengthens unity and communion. The outdoor Mass, concelebrated on the last day by the Archbishop of Dakar before a huge and colourful crowd, very fervent and joyful in the Marian place of Popenguine, closed this magnificent meeting and brought us back to our "different oasis" with our jugs filled with living water.
We wish to thank the host country, Senegal, and Monique Faye for their welcome, and to reiterate our congratulations to María Lía Zervino, Secretary General, on her election as President General. May God bless her
work and guide her! We send our best wishes to all WUCWO members for the new year 2019. Joy and peace in Christ with Mary.


Anne Girault

Femina Europa, France