Young female leaders begin academic, formation program

Participants in the 2021 Leadership for Mission program participated in their first module last week

Twelve young women from across Australia gathered last week for a four-day intensive session as part of the acclaimed Leadership for Mission program, a postgraduate course for women aged 25 to 35.

The latest cohort for the program, which is a joint initiative of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference’s National Centre for Evangelisation and Australian Catholic University, with the support of Catholic Mission, was set to commence last year but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Melissa Trolio from Perth said the program had provided her with an opportunity to explore and strengthen her role as a woman in the Church in Australia in two main ways.

“Firstly, by understanding the scriptural roles of women who have gone before us and, secondly, by recognising the ways in which women in our contemporary world can inspire, guide and lead us to live out the mission of Jesus Christ,” she said.

Brisbane-based Stephanie Langley said she thoroughly enjoyed completing the program’s first unit, which was titled “Interpreting the Bible for Leadership and Mission”.

“What I have enjoyed the most about Leadership for Mission to date is the focus that the group has on uncovering the often-untold stories of women in Scripture, and these stories can act as a model of leadership today,” she said.

“Engaging in candid conversations about how women’s leadership could be improved in the Church is giving me immense hope and a driving desire to learn more and be involved in the Church.”

The unit, which commenced in January, was the first of three that the students will complete over the next 12 months, before they are awarded a graduate certificate in theological studies.

Geraldton Bishop Michael Morrissey, the Bishop Delegate for Women, said Leadership for Mission was not just an academic program; it is also a journey of formation and discernment for participants.

“With each presentation, experience, prayer and conversation, there is the opportunity to get to know other women who have given of themselves within the Church and the community,” he said.

“The Church needs the compassion and strength of these young women across a diversity of leadership and mission responsibilities. As active leaders already, I hope this journey empowers our 12 students to be examples of Christ through their current gifts and roles as well as future missionary activities.”

Leadership for Mission offers academic and formative opportunities for young Catholic women aspiring to be leaders in their chosen fields. The program is designed by and for women who are inspired by the Gospel vision of justice, freedom and the dignity of the human person.

In 2019, the program was acknowledged by the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life as promoting “best practice” in lay formation.

The students will complete the second unit, “Theology for the Future: Reimagining Leadership”, in August; and the third unit, “Theology as Leadership for Mission”, in March 2022.

For more information about the Leadership for Mission program, visit

To keep up-to-date with the participants’ journey through the Leadership for Mission program, follow the Catholic Women Australia Facebook page: