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Leadership for Mission

The graduating group of 2013-2014Leadership for Mission is an initiative that has been specifically developed by women and for women who are inspired by the Gospel vision of justice, freedom and the dignity of the human person.

It builds on the Young Catholic Women's Interfaith Fellowship which commenced in 2007 as a unique, national leadership program for Catholic women providing a theological education, faith formation and preparation for mission in a multi-faith world. Fifty-five women completed the program which was offered five times from 2007-2017. The YCWIF educated for leadership within and beyond the Catholic Church.

The graduates work within organisations such as Catholic Health and Catholic Education and in a variety of professions including law, chaplaincy and social work. The program contributed to personal, spiritual and professional development. The rich experiential learning in a series of residential sessions was combined with rigorous online learning with graduates completing a four-unit Graduate Certificate in Theology.

In February 2017, the Council for Australian Catholic Women discerned that a revision of the program was necessary. Firstly, the CACW stipulated that the funding model move from a reliance on donations and the scholarship funds to a more fiscally sustainable model and secondly, that the focus of the program be leadership rather than interfaith engagement.

To this end a two-year the Council for Australian Catholic Women, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Mission and Australian Catholic University (ACU), developed a joint initiative to deliver a specialised leadership program for women in the Catholic Church.

During a time of renewed calls within the Catholic Church for the participation and diversity of women’s voices in decision-making, leadership and ministry, this graduate program seeks to further embrace, enhance, and theologically ground the leadership capabilities, skills and aspirations of women in the Church and the broader community.

Director of the National Office for the Participation of Women, Ms Andrea Dean, said, “I’m thrilled that this dynamic and practical partnership will enable another cohort of young Catholic women to be educated for leadership within and beyond the Church in a multi faith society.”

Executive Dean of the ACU Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, Professor Dermot Nestor, said, “This program situates the practical and contextual leadership experiences, needs and aspirations of women within an academically grounded and collaborative environment.”

“The Faculty has developed a purposefully designed curriculum that at all times presents an opportunity for participants to deeply reflect on their own faith, their personal mission and vocation as a way of addressing the many challenges and opportunities of our world. This program, and the learning design that anchors it, is thus a direct contribution to the pastoral practice of a Church for the third millennium,” said Professor Nestor.

National Director of Catholic Mission, Fr Brian Lucas said, “I am delighted that Catholic Mission can join with the other sponsors so a new generation of young lay women can have a formation experience preparing them as missionary disciples for future leadership roles in the church.”

Leadership for Mission is a sponsored, two-year, part time program commencing in February 2018. It is structured across four residential sessions in North Sydney and supported through ACU's online learning management system. Sixteen young women have been accepted into the program which commences in March 2018.