Church without Walls: Celebrating Women in our Diocese

The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle officially launched its Council for Women this week, which aims to empower women to share their voice on matters that are important to them.

The launch of the Council coincides with International Women’s Day however its Executive Chair, Helene O’Neill, says that both men and women are invited to get involved.

“Our long-term goal is to have all women in the Diocese feel welcome and able to have their say on the role of women in the Church,” she said. “Women have a lot to offer, and we want to ensure they are empowered to take on leadership and decision-making roles. We also invite men, who share this aspiration, to join us in conversation and be our allies in advocacy.”

Ms O’Neill said the establishment of the Council for Women comes following the re-structure of the Council for Australian Catholic Women.

“We had a vision to start our own Council, with our own terms of reference, and the late Bishop Bill was 100 per cent supportive of this. He said to me it was a ‘no-brainer’,” Ms O’Neill said. 

The Council for Women joins the ranks of several other Diocesan councils including the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Catholic Ministry Council, the Adult Faith Formation Council, the Council for Ministry with Young People, the Ecumenical and Interfaith Council, the Social Justice Council and the Liturgy Council.

Prior to its official launch the Council for Women recently hosted an Earthy Women webinar, which provided a platform for women across the diocese to share ideas and their approach to caring for our land.

Moving forward, the Council plans to host bi-monthly events and thanks to online platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, their hope is that all women in the Hunter-Manning region are able to participate.

“We hope that these forums will act as a type of mentorship for young women and show that their voices will be heard and listened to within the Church. For a long time, the voices of women haven’t been heard, and we’re proud to be playing a part in shifting this culture.”

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Council for Women, you can fill out an expression of interest form at: Expressions of Interest - Diocesan Councils (