Abstract of the paper by Sr. Silvina Espanueva Tejares, Philippines

The small Christian communities in thediocese of Antique are mostly led by women. Despite the obvious patriarchy in the Church and the discrimination there is against feminine leadership, our Antiquena leaders continue to get hold of the helm and their ministerial contributions cannot be watered down. Most of our leaders are working mothers whose eyes are fixed on their family first and foremost, laboring from early morning to late in the evening. Overworked as they are, they still find time to be servants, shepherds and even midwives to their needy neighbors. It is interesting to look into the sense of embodiment and bodiliness that allows them to mirror the embodied Jesus who moved around in a down to earth manner to take care of the sick, the hungry, the naked, the prisoners and the strangers. It is equally interesting to see how they express their own sexuality as leaders considering the presence of male leaders.

Part I describes the Antiquena Leaders’ Experiences as sexual leaders, including responses to questions like “How do they see their bodies, care for them and use them?”, “How do they see themselves in relation to their husbands?”, “How do they understand the words in Genesis 2, 21-25 (Paul’s writings will be referred to also)?”, ” How do they express their sexuality as leaders?”, “What problems do they encounter (with the male leaders and their parish priest) being female leaders?” Part 2 gives a backgrounder on Sex and Culture in the province of Antique, the women’s worldview of sex/sexuality, the words they use to refer to sex. The third part is about our Religious tradition’s views on body and sexuality, with particular focus on Genesis 2 and Paul’s writings. Part 5 is a dialogue between the experience of women leaders regarding their body and sexuality and what is said by our Church writings and Scriptures. What do Church and Scripture have to say to the experience of our women leaders and what have the latter to say to our Church teachings and practice? In the last part, a pastoral response is recommended to help the women leaders see their bodies and express their sexuality in a more informed and enlighted way, to become more effective and compassionate leaders, and how the Church should treat our women leaders as dignified collaborators in the Church.

Silvina Tejares, Philippines, is a member of the Religious Missionary Sisters of the Lord’s Table (Mensa Domini Sisters). She does counseling and teaching and is a member of the Formation Team, Mill Hill Missionaries Formation Center, Manduarriao, Iloilo City She is a Doctor of Ministry from the CTU, Chicago. She also has Masters degrees in Guidance and Counseling and in Religious Studies (MST)

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