Susanne Birke – Equality and Diversity Officer 

Susanne Andre Birke has been part of GNRC since attending the First Assembly in Rome in 2015.  A member of the Theological Committee and Embracing Womyn, she* also attends Spiritual Formation events when possible.  Susanne is a Roman Catholic theologian with additional formation in pastoral counselling, pedagogy, and body therapy. She* identifies as physically female, otherwise agender and women*loving.  

Susanne has been involved in LGBTIQ+ grassroots work since she* attended the first conference for Catholic lesbians in Switzerland in 1993.  Since 2002, she* has been working for the Roman Catholic Church.  After coming out as a lesbian in a parish newspaper 10 years ago, she* initiated rainbow ministry at her* workplace, which included family diversity days, blessings around IDAHOBIT, and rainbow pilgrimages.  

In 2016, she* started the rainbow ministry working group in the diocese of Basel.  It remains the only diocesan Catholic rainbow ministry in Switzerland, although there is a lot of grassroots support and rainbow ministry on the parish level.  In addition, she* networks with many different Roman Catholic organisations, including the Austrian rainbow ministry.  

Susanne for many years also has been a member of the gender issue working group of her* diocese.  Its main task is to prepare a subject for consideration each year by the bishops council, which includes all persons in leadership positions in the diocese of Basel.  The group also addresses LGBTIQ issues. In 2021 and 2022 the subject was inclusivity for all genders with trans and non-binary guests. In march 2023 she* will start working in ministry for sex workers.  

Aside from GNRC, Susanne has been engaged with LGBTIQ+ ministry and work on an international level through the European Forum of LGBT Groups.  She* is part of the European Forums Roman Catholic working group and served on the organising team for the Forums annual meeting in Zurich.   

She *also served for 10 years on the board of FIZ Advocacy and Support for Migrant Women and Victims of Trafficking, a national NGO based in Zurich.  In that capacity, she* worked with a team of diverse national backgrounds, which serves a religiously and otherwise diverse group of migrants from both within and outside Europe.  

Among the main challenges she* sees for GNRC at present are finding enough people to do the necessary work and becoming truly diverse and equal.  As Equality and Diversity Officer, she *plans to engage more people in a way that is workable for them, and especially to reach out to those who are underrepresented.