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Spotlight on women in the Church


‘Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet’ is the title chosen by outspoken US Benedictine Sr Joan Chittister for a lecture she will deliver at the Adelaide Town Hall in May.

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Held in honour of the late Janette Gray, an Adelaide Mercy Sister and renowned theologian, the lecture was due to take place in 2020 but was cancelled due to COVID.

The Janette Gray Memorial Fund, which sponsors the annual lecture, provides financial support for activities that promote the education and leadership of women in theology.

Sr Janette joined the Sisters of Mercy in 1975 and taught in Mercy schools in Adelaide and Mount Gambier before moving into adult faith education. She was a much sought after speaker all over Australia and was greatly appreciated for her creativity as an educator, her generosity, her pastoral insight and for the humility and brilliance that characterised her scholarship.

Sr Janette and Sr Joan crossed paths when they were at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom and they remained friends until Sr Janette’s sudden death in 2016 at the age of 64.

Sr Joan will be in Australia in the months before the second session of the Plenary Council, which will have as one of its focuses the involvement of women in the Church.

A member of the Erie Benedictine Sisters in Pennsylvania, USA, Sr Joan has gained an international reputation as a “fearless and passionate” speaker and writer on topics such as justice, peace, women’s issues and contemporary spirituality.

“In her pursuit of justice, with her prophetic voice, she is not afraid to challenge and question the status quo on behalf of those who suffer from injustice in its many guises,” said local Sister of Mercy Mary-Anne Duigan.

“Her message is gospel-centred and comes from the heart.”

The title of her lecture is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. It will be delivered on Thursday May 19 at 7pm in the Adelaide Town Hall, King William Street, city.


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