Happy and fruitful Year 2023!
St. John XXIII told the women of WUCWO: "Dear daughters: great are your responsibilities in today's world, which expects from you the light of your faith, the ardour of your hope and the zeal of your charity! May the extent of your influence be in proportion to the hopes it awakens!" (Audience of 3rd May 1961).
Dear friends: What will Pope Francis say to us at the audience on May, 13 2023? No doubt this year will be a memorable one for WUCWO, as will have been the years when Popes received women for WUCWO Conferences or World Assemblies. In this case, we will be present with our families and other women who are not members, but who participate in our projects and can therefore welcome the MESSAGE we will receive from the Holy Father.
It will be a morning full of thanksgiving to God and of sharing what we have been doing as co-responsible for evangelisation and integral human development in the different continents. Of the ten lepers, only one returned to give thanks to Jesus: “He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him” (Luke: 17, 16). It will be a time when we can recognise many of the organisations and individuals who have helped us in our mission.
And with a grateful heart, at the same time repentant for our shortcomings and omissions but eager to do better in the future, we will be praying with Pope Francis. We will be singing to Mary, on her feast of Our Lady of Fatima and celebrating WUCWO Day together in Rome. How much grace, how much celebration, how many novelties with which the Lord Jesus wants to surprise us!
I prepare this message in front of the Blessed Sacrament and I invite you to do everything possible to ensure that this invitation reaches all the women of WUCWO, their families and the women involved in their projects, so that they feel invited. Unlike the Assembly in Assisi, where the number of participants has already been exceeded and registration is closed, the audience with the Pope will be open to all those who have registered individually: https://forms.gle/5fSxqoWwCiNExo55A. Participation at the audience is free.
I am thinking about the preparation that this audience requires, so please send us your suggestions as to who in your organisations - especially young people - could sing, dance, or offer other artistic skills that they are willing and able to express themselves on that morning. How nice it would be to be able to speak to the Pope from different cultures! May we succeed in making ourselves visible with the colours of the different cultural and pastoral expressions, as a network of "weavers of communion, peace and universal fraternity".
And as with any ecclesial mission, its success is fundamentally based on humility and on the insistence with which we have begged the Holy Spirit for his light and strength to carry it forward. For this reason, I suggest that you organise a kind of "prayer campaign", within your organisations, with priests and religious friends, with the sick offering their sufferings and prayers, so that a column of prayers rises daily to heaven to implore the graces we need for the meeting with the Pope and for the General Assembly.
All your contributions have already been or will be welcome. I am referring to the contributions of the young scholarship applicants, the possible resolutions, the candidates for the Board, the alternatives for amending the statutes, the articles for the special issue of Women’s Voice, the commitment to display your organisations’ activities at the Assembly exhibition and also the artistic manifestations to celebrate the audience on 13 May. I thank you for all the contributions you have already made or are about to make in the coming days.
And finally, I propose that we allow ourselves to be surprised by our Father God who challenges us to welcome almost twice as many participants as the assemblies of the last 15 or 20 years have gathered. Assisi is a small place in relation to such a large event and it will be our dear St. Francis and St. Clare who will teach us how to live this next General Assembly in austerity and in a way that suits the circumstances. We, at the WUCWO Secretariat and at the Executive, are working with all our creativity and ask the participants of the Assembly for their understanding in order to find the best solutions to this wonderful number of registrations received.
María Lía Zervino, Servidora
WUCWO President General