In July 2012, the Henry Luce Foundation awarded a four-year grant of $375,000 to the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, California. This grant funded a pilot program, Women of Wisdom and Action, which enables Catholic women religious from China, India, and Vietnam to pursue advanced theological degrees at the Jesuit School of Theology. In collaboration with the Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity, an international community of women religious, and the Society of Jesus, the initiative created a whole-person approach to the education and support of the participants.
In December 2014, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awarded a $750,000 grant to continue supporting the sisters from Asia pursuing advanced degrees at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University and to furthermore enable the Women of Wisdom and Action Initiative to broaden their impact in Asia, through local, regional and national networks, exchange and conferences. This grant opened outstanding opportunity for the support of women religious theologians in Asia and is giving strength to empowering diverse local churches theologically with a focus on women.
Since 2014 the Women of Wisdom and Action Initiative has been able to reach out to superior conferences across Asia, theological institutions and individual congregational seminaries with the goal to support local theological training of women in Asia, so that the dynamic theological model will be increasingly rooted locally. In the year 2016 and 2017 a string of events will strengthen the voice of women in the countries that have been part of the WWA so far. The events focus on networking renown women scholars and recent graduates making theological insights available to a broad female audience by the way of publication and social media. Some sisters will be invited to Berkeley, for rigorous academic theological training that is bound into an interdisciplinary framework, which takes into account each individual congregation’s unique and specific mission, as well as the particular talents and goals of the individual sister.
The initiative fosters leadership for the sisters through interdisciplinary and contextualized theological training. Upon return to their home country, the participants may lead a hospital or religious community, educate other women in non-formal settings, or become a Novice director, among other important roles. This initiative seeks to support each sister’s own voice as a woman generating social change in the Church and society.
The women, the first of whom arrived for the Fall 2013 semester, are welcomed into an international and inter-congregational community with sisters from other parts of Asia, sharing a house with a common kitchen, dining, living and chapel area. They also have the opportunity to receive spiritual formation and training and to be in contact with ministry settings in their culture of origin in the Bay area.
Please see the July 2012 Luce Press Release for more information about the pilot grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.
Please see the December 2014 Hilton Foundation Press Release for more information about the grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.