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Meeting of women in the parish of Santa Bárbara, Honduras

Clara Marina Quintanilla, CND

This meeting was a collective experience lived from a perspective of the faith and the daily reality of women.

Five years ago we began to meet once a month with some village coordinators. We also meet, once a year, with eighty to one hundred women from different villages to celebrate and share our rural women ministry.

This year we scheduled a March meeting for women in the parish. In order to organize it, we formed a committee with women from the urban area. Two women attended the first meeting, one a nurse who knows the reality of pregnant girls and the other a teacher from one of the most criticized public institutes in the municipality of Santa Bárbara. In this first meeting, I was able to get to know the two women and why they were interested. I returned touched, empathizing with these women who daily hear, witness and suffer the powerlessness and cruelty of abuse and patriarchal and male violence in their environments.

That day we decided on the format of the meeting: we would walk as a symbol to show that we cannot remain paralyzed in the face of pain. We would walk in solidarity with other women of the country and of the world who struggle to let other people know the real violence endured by women, girls, and boys. This walk would have five stations.

At the first station we presented our objective. At the second a woman from the rural area offered a prayer about the goodness of women. At the third station there was a prayer about the blessedness of women. In this station, we read CONADEH´s report on the human rights situation in the country and the recorded data on urban violence. This report reveals that 37% of the complaints correspond to the total number of denunciations received because women decided to break the silence. At the fourth station we read a poem about biblical women, written by Elizabeth Shussler. The fifth station had an excerpt from a reflection on Luke 10:38-42, Martha and Mary: Working Woman and Pondering Woman in the Church (Church women in Chile).

Thus we arrived at the church to experience a beautiful Eucharist at which a circle of candles was lit as a symbol of the different situations that affect the lives of women.

People from the four districts prepared lunch for all the people arriving from the villages and the four districts. This was a simple, supportive, sisterly and fraternal sharing in which some brothers collaborated in organizing and assisting the participants.

We held a conversation with representatives of the Public Ministry, Special Prosecutor's Office for Women's Affairs and the Human Rights Office.

This experience where women were part of the preparatory committee included opening ourselves to listening to the new experiences of the women who are part of the committee. This became an empathetic atmosphere of listening to each other.

The last one to join the team was Miriam from District 3. In 2008, her daughter, Diana Liseth Reyes, was murdered. This is a deeply moving story that went unpunished. That day we decided that Diana Liseth would represent all the women murdered in this municipality.

In reviewing this activity, I feel that an initiative was born in 2014 as a result of a course in Feminist Theology in which I was asked to form "grassroots" women. The question was: How to teach Feminism? The idea for a radio program, "Con mirada de mujer" (With a Woman's Look), on Radio Actualidad was born here. Then we took another small step. Sister Claudia Margarita, Sister Mariana and I spoke with the pastor about the possibility of starting a women´s ministry. Therefore, in August 2014 we convened for the first time rural women. We began feminist theological-spiritual formation with a group of 80 to 100 women who came the last Sunday of the month. It was a true festive occasion and joy to share, celebrate and educate ourselves. All the Congregation de Notre-Dame sisters of the local community participated in this event: Sisters Claudia Margarita, Mariana, Monique, Idalia, Silvia Leticia, and Violaine. Each one added to this forum of feminine participation and reflection her own unique way.

At this moment, we are still concerned, we need to deepen who we are as Christian women, rural and urban; we have to meet and learn the legal agreements and give a name to domestic and intra-family violence; and we need to listen to each other, to heal, to learn self-care... these were the voices heard in the conversation.

Thanks to all who have contributed to this visitation journey.

 

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