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April 6-8 Conference: Women's Leadership in the Global Church

Marguerite Barankitse, founder of Maison Shalom
Marguerite Barankitse
Melinda Roper, MM, past president of Maryknoll Sisters Congregation
Melinda Roper, MM
Inspired by Pope Francis’ establishment of a commission to study the ordination of women deacons, this coming April, CWCIT is hosting “Daughters of Wisdom: Women and Leadership in the Global Church” at DePaul’s Lincoln Park Campus to address—more broadly—the leadership of women in the Catholic Church, with a special emphasis on the global South. Taking place this coming April 6-8, 2018, the conference will gather 15 scholars from countries such as India, Nigeria, Argentina, the Philippines, Venezuela, Singapore, Mexico, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The event is the 2018 edition of World Catholicism Week, a gathering of scholars from around the world to explore a single topic; it will explore women's use of Scripture, as well as the ecclesiological basis for women taking leadership roles in the Church. More than simply a theoretical discussion, it will examine the leadership roles that women are already exercising in grassroots church communities, faith-based social movements, and theological education in the global South. Keynote speakers are Marguerite Barankitse, founder and president of Maison Shalom (“house of peace”) in Kigali, Burundi, and Sr. Melinda Roper, former president of the Maryknoll Sisters Congregation and a longtime missionary in Latin America.

Barankitse founded Maison Shalom as a refuge for children orphaned during Burundi’s violent civil war. Over the years, it has grown into a complex of schools, hospitals, and a network of care that extends throughout the nation. Barankitse has saved the lives of about 30,000 children. In 2016, she received the inaugural Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, an international award given to “an individual whose actions have had an exceptional impact on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes.”

Roper was elected president of the Maryknoll Congregation in 1978 after serving in Mexico and Guatemala. Just two years later, the murders of four U.S. churchwomen in El Salvador—among them two Maryknoll sisters—thrust her into the international spotlight and a fight for justice and human rights. She has continued her fight for human rights on a broader scale the past 32 years in in the tropical rainforest region of Darién, Panama, where she and a team of fellow sisters live and work with indigenous and mestizo peoples.