Women's needs will be assessed - Catholic Courier

Women’s needs will be assessed

ROCHESTER — The Diocese of Rochester’s Women’s Commission is leading an effort this summer to discover the spiritual needs of young women.

To ensure that this effort includes the participation of young Latinas, Luisa Baars, a member of the diocesan Women’s Commission, volunteered to translate into Spanish a survey designed to assess the needs of women ages 19 to 39. The survey is currently being disseminated in churches throughout the diocese, and the Spanish version will be distributed in parishes and to women’s groups that serve Hispanics, Baars said.

“So many times, we (Latinas) don’t count,” said Baars, a parishioner of St. Margaret Mary Church in Irondequoit. “Many of our women, for instance, are migrant women who have very special needs — (certain) hours they have to keep, a lack of transportation, language differences. We don’t know. We are guessing. ‚Ķ We need to hear from them.”

Special emphasis also is being focused on gathering the views of young Latinas because they represent a growing population in the Catholic Church, according to Shannon Loughlin, director of the diocese’s young adult and campus ministry.

“We want to use resources to reach out to them as well; raise up the voices of all women, including the Spanish speaking,” she said. “We’re trying to be as broad as possible.”

Loughlin explained that the survey grew out of a women’s Day of Prayer organized last fall by the Women’s Commission. At that time, the members of the commission’s subcommittee on young women agreed the diocese should be hearing directly from other young women, she added. The survey asks about faith backgrounds, levels of parish participation, the kinds of programs young women would like to see and what services they would need to be able to attend such programs.

“It’s always important to look at the voices of all the different people in our community,” Loughlin said. “Young adults need special focus to try and connect them and hear their voices. This is a concerted effort to intentionally reach out to them ‚Ķ and give special attention to reach this population and to raise up things important to them and be able to respond to it.”

Baars observed that as the “sandwich generation,” young women as a whole do face unique challenges, such as balancing careers with raising children and helping their aging parents. She said that is why a second Day of Prayer is being planned for Sept. 29 at Nazareth College to give women a chance to focus on their own spiritual well-being.

“How difficult it is to juggle so many things,” Baars added. “Many things go by the wayside, such as taking care of oneself physically, emotionally and spiritually.”

The survey results may help shape the form of future initiatives to help women deal with the situations they face and so the commission can offer appropriate kinds of resources and workshops, Loughlin added.

Survey results also will give the Women’s Commission input on developing new programs and services and ways to better serve this population, said Bernard Grizard, director of diocesan Parish Support Ministries.

“It will also bring awareness to the commission itself by better taking into account the particular needs of young women in our diocese,” he said.

Parishes were asked to distribute the surveys in June, and the commission hopes completed surveys will be dropped off at churches or sent to the diocesan Pastoral Center by the end of summer, Loughlin added.

“The goal is ‚Ķ connected to our mission — to lead, educate and voice issues in church and society (for all women),” she said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: To participate in the Women’s Commission survey, contact Sister Mary Louise Heffernan, SSJ, at heffernan@dor.org or by calling 585/328-3228, ext. 1336.

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