10 A Spirituality of Flourishing - Sr. (Dr) Patricia Santos RJM

posted Mar 13, 2019, 10:19 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Mar 13, 2019, 10:20 AM ]
The topic of flourishing is raising much interest across a multitude of disciplines. However, most research has not paid adequate attention to women, the poor and other persons at the margins of society.

Empowerment through social conscientisation, advocacy and skills training has enabled women in most parts of India to foster their capacities and has mobilised them to fight for their rights. However, in empowerment work and in most of the social work ministries in India, the emphasis lies on action for justice and liberation in social, economic and political spheres. While spirituality can be discerned in the commitment of grassroots organisations and of resistance movements striving for empowerment and liberation, the faith experiences that sustain people and make them resilient are not brought to the fore. Dr Santos endeavours to change this: she argues that women and people at the margins not only require social conscientisation and capacity building, but also love, care, fulfilment of basic needs, supportive relationships, and spiritual awakening, resulting in integral growth and flourishing.

From Empowerment to a Spirituality of Flourishing (SOF) at the Margins

The dissertation consists of three major parts. It starts with engaging with the women of Maharashtra by means of qualitative empirical research. The second part presents an overview of relevant scholarly research. This enables Santos to envision a Spirituality Of Flourishing (SOF) at the margins. The third part evokes concrete strategies and practices from feminist theologians and grassroots movements in order to develop a life-giving mission for flourishing. Santos states: "Engaging with Catholic organisations working for the empowerment of women and with scholarly research encouraged me to envision a move from empowerment to an SOF. Spirituality is not merely significant for flourishing; it is the very essence, mind, heart and gut of flourishing. Flourishing is an inherent potential and grace offered by the Lord to all persons, as well as a goal to be reached through personal and community efforts. The experiences and contribution of the poor and marginalised need to be taken into consideration to ensure the flourishing of all."