By Dan Russo
DUBUQUE — Rhonda Miska is a Catholic lay woman living in Dubuque who has dedicated most of her professional life to ministering in the church. She recently had the honor of joining an international chorus of female Catholic voices contributing to a new book of essays called “Catholic Women Speak: Bringing Our Gifts to the Table.”
“What’s really exciting and energizing for me about this book is the sense of community,” said the writer.
A Wisconsin native, Miska began in her new role as coordinator of programs and development at Shalom Spirituality Center about a month ago. The organization run by Franciscan sisters holds retreats and other programs in the city of Dubuque.
Miska is a University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point graduate with a master’s degree in theology from Boston College. After working with a Jesuit service organization in Nicaragua, Miska served as coordinator of Hispanic Ministry at the Church of the Incarnation in Charlottesville, Virginia from 2004-2009. She has also worked for a community of women religious in Villa Maria, Pennsylvania and her contributions as a freelance author have been featured in several print and online publications.
Miska is a regular participant in the Catholic Women Speak Network. This online community is a hub for theological dialogue and collaboration for about 800 Catholic women around the world from many walks of life.
“The idea for the book grew out of our online conversations and a desire to create a resource for the Synod on the Family that would highlight a diversity of Catholic women’s voices,” reflected Miska.
The Synod of Bishops set to meet in Rome in October has been asked by Pope Francis to consider the vocation and mission of the family in the church and contemporary world. Miska will join fellow contributors to the “Catholic Women Speak” book from Argentina, Britain, Nigeria, and many other countries at a launch celebration at the Pontifical University Antonianum Oct. 1. The essayists hope their work will add to the dialogue at the synod.
“We pray our book — a collective labor by many, many people — will enrich the conversations in the synod as well as among Catholics everywhere …” wrote Miska of the work. “Archbishop Jackels, speaking at the August Wisdom and Wine shared that the word ‘synod’ has its Greek roots, (meaning) ‘to be on the road together.’ We pray that the words shared in the book inform the conversations of those who gather at the synod as they are ‘on the road together.’”
There are 44 contributors to “Catholic Women Speak,” which is being released by publisher Paulist Press. Miska’s essay focuses on the perspective of young professional women in ministry. She has also translated an essay by an Argentine theologian from Spanish to English for the book.
Selections from the book are available at catholicwomenspeak.com. The entire book will be available at Shalom in its gift shop beginning around the last week of Septmeber for $16.95. All profits from the book will go to Catherine of Siena Virtual College, which offers online education courses in theology and other topics, designed particularly for women in the global South.
This story is provided courtesy of The Witness, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Dubuque.