Rome Reflections Day 6

Rev. Roberta Fuller

Rome, the eternal city:

We, CNWE, came for the WOC Vigil for gender equity & we went to the Women’s March for Women’s Rights, – for human rights in our own Roman Catholic Church, yet all this time, we have been in the midst of Rome, the eternal city.

Under the umbrella pines spreading sacred shade & beside the blossoming oleander everywhere, we breathed in the sunshine-filled air of Rome.

CNWE folks were fortunate to stay at the Resurrection Father’s monastery almost atop the Spanish Steps, ten minutes from the Trevi Fountain where, of course, we threw coins in the in the water to be granted traditional wishes.

We passed the vast Basilica of Maria Maggiore, full of magnificent mosaics, stopped at the Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano, beside the holy steps, then passed infamous Colosseum of gladiator contests to reach the Circus Maximus, site of ancient chariot races. 

History, both glorious & gory surrounded us but beneath the towering palms & between the elegant boutiques & luxurious shops, we found time & space to explore the Catacombs of Priscilla, an early woman priest.

We journeyed to the Basilica of St. Praxedes with Women’s Ordination Conference gathering to pray together for women’s full participation in all ministries imminently.

As CNWE people, we gazed in awe & wonder at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, & so we prayed that justice, equality & inclusion evolve from the ongoing Synod.

Another highlight during our visit on October 4th, the Feast Day of St. Francis, was the release of Pope Francis’ Laudato Deum – the sequel to his definitive encyclical on the climate crisis, Laudato Si’.

Perhaps the true highlight of our focused trip to Rome was the Women’s March through the city on October 6th to not only advertise our mission but also to promote our hope for fair & equal recognition in our own Roman Catholic Church.

We continue to strive in faith for our vision of equal acceptance of unity for all men & women alike to forge a better world together.

Eternal Rome: Eternal hope.

Rev. Roberta Fuller

Rome Reflections Day 3

October 3, 2023, Roma.

Our spot in Rome is extraordinary. While the rooms are simple but spacious and lovely, we have an exquisite view from our rooftop terrace. We all gathered together last night for the first time to share a simple meal of bread, wine, olives, cheese and grapes. Breaking bread with CNWE is such a special time.

Several of us visited the Catacombs of Priscilla: Jeanie, Nancy, Louise, Susan, Roberta and myself. We walked 700 metres along dark narrow pathways into the period of the 3rd century. For me there was a sense of going back in time to a period that was so rich for the Christian community. From my readings/ understanding of history Priscilla was prominent in the church. Many suggest that she was a priest. The image of her in the mosaic clearly resembles someone praying, presiding over a ritual. She is acknowledged to be a wealthy woman who donated land for the catacombs. Similarly to tombs through time there’s a great range of very simple tombs to very elaborate.

First Nativity

Dating from the early 3rd century is the first known image of the Nativity. The image showing a character from the Old Testament confirms the messianic idea of the prophesy, of the universal annunciation.

At St. Praxedes

We walked back to our residence via the beautiful Villa Borghese gardens, stopping for wonderful drinks. At 4 pm, wearing our purple stoles, we all gathered at St. Praxedes for our ritual with WOW/WOC. We had an opportunity in this beautiful church to see the famous mosaic of Theodora. I was lucky to be accompanied by Susan Roll at that moment. She explained that the square surrounding Theodora meant she was still alive at the time of the creation of the mosaic. Though the last part of her name is not clear, her title is! Episcopa – the “a” indicates a woman and a bishop.


Following we mingled and celebrated on the beautiful rooftop terrace of Mecenate Palace Hotel. I spoke with journalist /writer Michael Higgins and activists from Italy, France, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, India as well as United States. 

Louise with spectacular view

The photo is of Louise Dowhan with the spectacular view behind her.

Some of the words of the service resonate still. Barb (WOC) asked, “Who can bless? Who can be blessed?” Inspired by a prayer:

“May we in CNWE use our power of wisdom, anger, humour, heartbreak and hope to comfort (and confront) this world, to create a kindom: a radically loving inclusion.”

To bless and be blessed. May it be so!

Mary-Ellen Morgenstern