The role of women in the Church

Blog Published: January 14, 2024
By Sister Maria Elena Gonzalez Galvan
A sister in white habit crosses the street
Maria Elena Gonzalez Galvan was born in Mexico City, where she studied interior design and social work. She entered the Congregation of the Religious of the Incarnate Word at the age of 24 and when she was newly professed was sent on mission to Kenya among the Pökot tribe. She worked in missionary animation and with young people in community apostolic works. She has done graduate studies in theology and later obtained the Diploma of Expert in Religious Life. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in missiology at the Intercontinental University in Mexico City.

It's undeniable that this October, we're witnessing global events that are capturing the world's attention, causing concern, uncertainty, and distress. The ongoing wars are weighing heavily on all of us, particularly as we learn about the suffering that many of our fellow brothers and sisters are enduring.

In addition, we find ourselves in the fourth stage of the process of synodality initiated in 2021, where communities worldwide have been participating in various ways. Naturally, the synodal fathers and mothers have not been disconnected from what's happening, along with other issues of global concern, such as the increasing migration, climate change, institutionalized violence, and more.

But right from the start of the synodal assembly, there have been encouraging signs that indicate the Spirit is once again guiding the church, bringing about remarkable developments. As with any ecclesiastical gathering, there are always voices wanting to express what hasn't been said, and there's a significant concern that the church might deviate from its centuries-old mission. Among these voices, the concern about the participation of women in all communities continues to be a topic of discussion.

Personally, I've been struck by the fact that most of the assemblies are held in the Paul VI Hall, where participants are seated at roundtables, seemingly emphasizing equality in dignity and participation in the assembly. Every day, we hear reflections from laypeople and consecrated women, and I dare say that their contributions have been highly relevant and on point.

In my journey, I can confidently declare that I feel like a woman who has a significant role within the church. From the wealth of my feminine identity, I have a lot to contribute, much like the women in various communities who have been doing so since the inception of this journey, breathing life into local churches.

I can see this not only in the religious community but also in my pastoral work in the northern region of Argentina. Women bear significant responsibility and exhibit creativity in sustaining community life. From small groups to participation in the Diocese of Catamarca, women are carrying out educational, missionary, health, and spiritual life projects.

There's been discussion about the possibility of women being ordained as deacons, which may happen in the future. That may be at some point, however, at present, I don't see any sisters or laywomen eagerly awaiting the ministry to serve. There's plenty of room for women to make maternal, fraternal, and service contributions, and we do so tirelessly. We're all moving forward together in synodality.

We’re delighted to share with you this blog from the monthly feature “The Life” courtesy of our friends at Global Sisters Report. This month, The Life panelists reflected on the question: How has the synodal process affected you, your parish, or your community? What hoped do you have for the synod? CLICK HERE  to read more blogs from The Life series, GSR’s monthly feature about the unique, challenging, and very specific lives of women religious around the world.

PHOTO: "Stylish nun" by A. Munar is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

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