Young Catholic Women’s Fellowship commences

This week eight young women from across Australia will meet “virtually” for the first time, as they commence their two-year journey of academic and missionary formation as members of the Young Catholic Women’s Fellowship.

The Bishop’s Delegate for Women, Michael Morrissey, will welcome the young women to this iteration of a long-standing initiative of the Australian Bishops. The Fellowship aims to provide a rich array of formational opportunities, including participation in the Australian Catholic University’s Women’s Leadership for Mission program, culminating in the awarding of a Graduate Certificate in Theological Studies.

In this edition of The Bridge, we introduce you to the eight Fellowship participants. Each participant was invited to share what they are most looking forward to from their participation in the Fellowship.

Ashley CarvalhoAshley Carvalho

Ashley is 27 years old and holds a Bachelor of Law and Arts. Originally from Western Australia, Ashley now lives in the Archdiocese of Brisbane. She recently commenced a role with the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children as a capacity and prevention coordinator. Ashley has extensive experience in the areas of youth ministry and social justice.

“Through this Fellowship I am looking forward to receiving greater faith formation so that I can better lead others in the Church environment and the wider community. I am also excited to be undertaking this course alongside like-minded young Catholic women who also wish to grow in their faith.”

Syona FernandezSyona Fernandez

Syona is 27 years old and lives in the Archdiocese of Perth. She holds a Bachelor of Biomedical Science and a Master of Teaching and works as a secondary teacher. She has significant experience in the areas of social justice and youth ministry. Syona was born in Singapore and arrived in Australia in 1999.

“Proverbs 27:17 reads ‘Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another’. This favourite quote of mine certainly applies to my excitement in joining the Young Catholic Women’s Fellowship. I feel very blessed to be accompanied by many gifted, motivated and Christ-centred women who are passionate about being a witness to the Gospel in their workplaces. Through studying theology, I feel that we will be reinvigorated, encouraged and strengthened in this shared mission. I look forward to all the personal and spiritual growth that will come from our learning, journeying and ‘sharpening’ together.”

Jina FrancisJina Francis

Jina is 29 years old and lives in the Archdiocese of Perth. She is married and has two young children. Jina holds a Bachelor of Arts in Law and Society and Psychology and previously worked in the NDIS sector. Since 2022, Jina has worked for Jesus Youth Australia. She has significant ministry involvement in the areas of youth and music. She was born in Saudi Arabia and became an Australian citizen in 2008.

“I am most looking forward to the valued connections and friendships I will make with other young Catholic women and increasing my understanding of Catholicism. I have been a part of Jesus Youth Australia, which holds the tagline 'Every Jesus Youth is a missionary.' I am looking forward to a meaningful missionary journey, fostering valued connections and fellowships, and gaining a deep understanding of Catholicism.

Sarah GardinerSarah Gardiner

Sarah is 28 years old and lives in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Teaching (Humanities) and works as a secondary teacher. She contributes significantly to various areas of social justice, especially through her work with the teacher’s union and by encouraging her students to be actively involved in outreach to the marginalised.

“I feel so blessed and grateful to have received this opportunity. I am most looking forward to meeting other like-minded women from around the country - especially outside my area of education. I am keen to develop my leadership capacity in ways that translate to my school life and I’m excited to engage in the formation experiences we will encounter through this Fellowship - both personally and as a cohort.”

Juliana KittelJuliana Kittel

Juliana is 31 years old and lives in the Archdiocese of Adelaide. She holds qualifications in law and has recently moved from her role as a diocesan youth ministry officer to the Family Law Court as a legal case manager. Juliana has significant volunteering experience as a lay missionary with the Marist Brothers.

“I’m most looking forward to having theological formation and through it, learning from the voices and experiences of other young Catholic women so we can journey together to find how each of us is called to contribute to our local and national Church in Australia.”

Fina JoseFina Jose Palathingal

Fina is 33 years old and lives in the Diocese of Townsville. She is married with two young children. Fina holds qualifications in engineering (computer science) and is the facility manager of a nursing home. She has been a leader for Jesus Youth and is extensively involved in music and children’s ministry in her parish. Fina was born in India and moved to Australia in 2015.

I am excited to share this journey with other young women who share the passion to lead for the mission and I am looking forward to deepening my understanding of Catholic leadership.”

Sheril Jose SaoSheril Jose Sao

Sheril is 25 years old and lives in Sydney. She is a member of the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle. Sheril holds qualifications in engineering and works in the information technology industry. Sheril has extensive involvement in the youth apostolate at both a parish and national level. Sheril was born in India, has lived in Dubai, and migrated to Australia with her family in 2009.

“As a female leader in my church, I am excited about the prospect of joining the Young Catholic Women's Fellowship for the invaluable opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals. Striving to excel in church leadership roles, I've struggled to find female role models within my church. I look forward to being part of a supportive community where I can learn from and be inspired by other strong women of faith in leadership roles, fostering both personal and spiritual growth.”

Maricelle VosMaricelle Vos

Maricelle is 29 years old and lives in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. She holds a Bachelor of Education and works as a secondary teacher, having previously held various ministry roles, including as a university pastoral associate. Maricelle has contributed significantly in the areas of sports leadership, music and pastoral ministry.

“I am excited to participate in this opportunity to deepen my understanding of God’s mission for me through the Young Catholic Women’s Fellowship. I am also looking forward to connecting with other young women who are dedicated to their faith and ministry. I hope that in forming a community to enhance our leadership skills, I will not only develop professionally and personally, but also enrich my faith journey.”


Images: Supplied
Words: Sharon Brewer and Fellowship participants

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