The Vision of the Neighborhood Church: A Conversation with Virginia Saldanha

Each of us must please our neighbor for the good purpose of building up the neighbor.

     – Romans 15:2

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.

     – Ephesians 4:25

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

    – Leviticus 19:18

Our special thanks to Virginia Saldanha for joining us on December 11, 2023, to discuss the history, theology, and practice of “neighborhood” small Christian communities (SCCs). Virginia shared shared from her personal experience how she became involved in work for justice and women’s empowerment within the church, and offered an engaging visual presentation on how SCCs can function as instruments of solidarity and synodality. We also heard how women in the Asian church are taking on leadership roles within “self-ministering communities” and parish substations in more remote parts of the continent.

Author page at Union of Catholic Asian News

Biographical page at Catholic Women Preach

Video of presentation at “God’s Strong Daughters: Women and the Ministry in Catholicism” conference, Leipzig, Germany, September 2023

“Women’s Rights in the Church, in the Context of Sex Abuse” (Article in Asian Horizons, March 2019)

Pentecost in Asia: A New Way of Being Church by Thomas C. Fox

Virginia Saldanha is a lifelong campaigner for women’s rights in Church and Society, as well as a meaningful role for the people of God in the leadership and governance of the church in India/Asia in her role as Executive Secretary of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) Office of Laity, Family & Women, as well as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) Commission for Women. She founded the Indian Women Theologians’ Forum, and is a founding member of the Indian Christian Women’s Movement. She is author of Woman: Image of God and a featured contributor to numerous Catholic periodicals and newspapers. Virginia is currently based in Mumbai, and was a featured presenter at both the “God’s Strong Daughters: Women and the Ministry in Catholicism” conference in Leipzig, Germany, and the Spirit Unbounded lay-led global assembly this past fall.

Image: As seen in September 2020, the view from the parking lot of the apartment building at 424 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, looking toward South 9th Street (and the west steeple of the Roman Catholic Church of the Epiphany). Andre Carrotflower / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

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