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Remembering, thanking, asking for forgiveness and looking to the future.
As we approach the end of this WUCWO period (2018-2023), I think it is appropriate to make memory and take stock. In Italian, the etymology of the verb remember [ricordare] is “to bring to heart”. We started in Africa, at the General Assembly in Dakar, with the joy and welcome of so many wonderful women from our organisations in that region.
I think what has marked this period the most is the pandemic. The "Statio Orbis", Pope Francis' historic global prayer of 27 March 2020, guided us. The Holy Father was the global leader of this crisis. WUCWO not only experienced it, but also used it to learn and use cyber media to organise online prayer meetings, to celebrate the 110th anniversary of its foundation and to provide training in various languages on the current magisterium of the Church: With webinars on Evangelii gaudium, Amoris laetitia and the prevention of abuse in the family and in schools, Laudato si and its platform, Fratelli tutti and the path towards synodality, having as a basis Gaudete et exsultate, that is, growth in our common call to holiness.
We knocked on the doors of several offices of the Holy See, in addition ato maintaining the institutional relationship with the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life and the Secretariat of State, as is natural for WUCWO. A series of common activities followed, carried out jointly with the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development, the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, the Secretariat of the Synod, the Dicastery for Communication and also in collaboration with embassies to the Holy See of various countries and continents and with various international Catholic organisations such as the International Forum of Catholic Action, with which we have been working for a long time, as well as with Caritas Internationalis, Talitha Kum, etc.
The new programme: the World Women's Observatory (WWO) has turned WUCWO - already an existential observatory of women in the world - into an organisation that "listens to transform lives". With scientific support, we give visibility to women who seem invisible, with their sufferings and strengths, with their dramas and good practices, to generate synergy in a Church that seeks to live in a synodal style, serving communities and countries, seeking to evangelise and to contribute to integral development (www.worldwomensobservatory.org).
I suggest that we bring to our hearts, as part of our recent history, all that has led us to this point. "Remembering does not mean repeating, but treasuring, reviving and, with gratitude, allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to set our hearts on fire, like those of the first disciples (cf. Lk 24:32)" (Pope Francis, 23 December 2021). Let us give thanks together to the Lord, to our Mother Mary and let us look to the future.
The humble – humble men or women – are those who are concerned not simply with the past- the Holy Father continues - but also with the future, since they know how to look ahead (…), remembering the past with gratitude. The humble give life, attract others and push onwards towards the unknown that lies ahead. The proud, on the other hand, simply repeat, grow rigid (…) and enclose themselves in that repetition, feeling certain about what they know and fearful of anything new because they cannot control it; they feel destabilized... because they have lost their memory. "(Pope Francis, 23 December 2021).
And when each of us takes stock of these almost 5 years, we will surely also ask for forgiveness for our faults and omissions. Let me do so now before you. I hope you will forgive me. I ask the Lord, as He can always "write straight with crooked lines", to make all my mistakes and shortcomings to become a reason that will help WUCWO improving. " for nothing will be impossible for God" (Lk 37, 1).
I thank every woman in WUCWO. I have learned a lot from you. I carry with me a treasure trove of experiences. In particular, I thank my colleagues and friends on the Executive, the Council, the ecclesiastical assistants and every member of our staff. Without your hard work, we would not have been able to overcome the difficulties that have arisen during this period and to contribute to the growth of WUCWO.
With the same affection as always, I say goodbye as President,
María Lía Zervino, Servidora
WUCWO President General