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Sr Gemma Simmonds CJ

Sr Gemma Simmonds CJ has chosen an intriguing title for the Living Theology Study Day she is leading at the Bar Convent in York in July. Misquoting the well-known nursery rhyme, it actually indicates that the theme for the day is to be ‘Men and Women in Today’s Church’.

  Sr Gemma is Director of the Religious Life Institute at Heythrop College in London, with an international reputation as a speaker and writer on spirituality and pastoral issues.  However, since Sr Gemma is a religious sister of the Congregation of Jesus, in coming to the Bar Convent she is, in a sense, coming home.

  She is basing the day on the dream of a new community in the risen Jesus that has inspired generations of Christians: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”.  In practice, this dream has never entirely overcome the pressures of historical and cultural attitudes to gender.  Different parts of the Christian communion have made their own decisions regarding ordination, leadership and ministry – but it is argued that there is still much to debate regarding deeply embedded prejudices.

  Sr Gemma asks, “How can we create a faith community in which the specific gifts of each gender are recognised, while the equality of each gender in Christ is practised to the full?”

  This Study Day at the Bar Convent is on Saturday, 15 July; it is one of the Jesuit-inspired ‘Living Theology’ courses held in different venues across the country.

  The day starts at 10am, and finishes with 5pm Mass in the Chapel.  The total cost, including lunch and refreshments, is £20 (students £10).  Booking is essential.  For more details see www.living-theology.uk, email Brenda on fazikasbrenda@btinternet.com or phone Patricia on 01642-645732.

  All are welcome, – men and women!