Tracy McEwan is currently undertaking a PhD in theology at the University of Newcastle. Her research will explore the religious identity and participation of Generation X women in Australia who currently or have previously identified as Catholic. In 2018, as the NCLS Research Summer Scholar, Tracy investigated how different generations of Catholic church-attending women are living and enacting their Catholic identity.
Tracy has a Master of Theology from The University of Newcastle and a Bachelor of Applied Science (Mathematics) from the University of Technology Sydney. Tracy made the leap from mathematics and statistics to theology after volunteering as a special religious education (SRE) teacher in NSW Public Schools. She has worked for Sydney Catholic Schools as a Family Educator and taught accreditation courses for SRE teachers with The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) in Southern Sydney. As an experienced and skilled adult educator, Tracy is flexible and creative in the planning and delivery of educational opportunities.
Young Catholic Women Reclaim Church
Currently in Australia, while women outnumber men in both Catholic congregations and places of employment, for complex reasons, the parish participation rates of women are in decline. Yet, at least for now, these reasons do not appear to be leading the majority of Catholic women to dispense with their Catholic identities entirely. Indeed, recent research has revealed that many Catholic women, who are not Mass attenders, are not only holding on to their religious identities but are also maintaining a high level of private practice. In particular, women report praying the Rosary and turning to Saint Mary MacKillop to intercede for them despite not attending Mass and distancing themselves from the Church’s moral teachings. This reclamation of female models in Scripture and Church history could be related to the fact that women’s experience is undervalued and underutilised and the spiritual lives of women impoverished by the prioritising of masculine models of religious experience. This interactive workshop will explore the stories of Catholic women past and present, and will consider how their experience might empower contemporary women to reclaim their own experience of Church and Catholic identity. Participants will be invited to reflect on how the religious education of young women can be enriched by drawing on the inspiration of women who have in the past helped to shape and influence the Church.