Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Top Ten Women In the United States Catholic Church ( International Women's Day)

I was thinking of doing a post on this today before I realized it was International Women's Day. Some Catholic women of note do get mentioned by the media. No matter what you think of her positions Sr. Carol Keehan, has to be viewed as one of the most important Catholic women in the USA currently.

However there are many that sadly and strangely too often go under the radar So here is my top 10 plus 1. As you note in some categories I have noted several women to note they represent a larger female presence in their respective sphere.

1- The Pro life Movement. ( Prof Helen M. Alvaré )

From the HHS Mandate to Abortion the media portrays the debate as celibate old Catholic men imposing views.

What is amazing about that meme is Catholic women are often the heart , soul, and leadership of the pro life movement. As a Catholic political voice the women in the Pro-life movement are perhaps the most powerful of any cause the Catholic Church champions.

The names are too many to mention here ,but Helen M. Alvaré . an Associate Professor of Law , is just one example of hundreds that are a force. Among her many achievements she she worked at the Office of General Counsel for the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, where she drafted amicus briefs in leading U.S. Supreme Court cases concerning abortion, euthanasia and the Establishment Clause. She worked with the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities at the NCCB. Professor Alvaré chaired the commission investigating clerical abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and is an advisor to Pope Benedict XVI's Pontifical Council for the Laity. She is still going strong.

2- Mary Ann Glendon as a Catholic woman of influence in the Church ,and in American Politics has to be at the top of the list. That influence will continue to grow if Mitt Romney is elected President of the United States as she is a close adviser. Her accomplishments are many.

From early civil rights worker in Mississippi in the 60's to Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Glendon has had quite a life. . She was also the former American Ambassador to the Holy See. She was the first female President of the Roman Catholic Church's Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Glendon was the Vatican representative to the international 1995 Beijing Conference on Women sponsored by the United Nations. She was on President Bush's President's Council on Bioethics. She also was selected by the University of Notre Dame as the 2009 recipient of the prestigious Laetare Medal. American Catholicism highest honor

3- Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo is part of the new generation of Catholic women that is at the forefront of serving those most in need. Dr Woo, dean of the business school at the University of Notre Dame, has been recently selected by the Catholic Relief Services to be it's president and CEO. Forbes magazine just two days ago called her "The Best Kept Secret" of the Catholic Church. I would argue that she at this time is one of the most important people in the American Catholic Church that is women. She also thus has a major impact on the international Stage.

4-Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review is one of the prominent voices of Catholic women in politics. She is no shrinking violet as I find out when I was working on the Huckabee campaign ( She was not a fan) . Katheryn Lopez is perhaps the most prominent in bringing Catholic affairs into the view of the political mainstream through her work at the America's most prominent conservative political journals in the United States.

5. Sister Mary Ann Walsh is the Director of Media Relations for United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. She has been in this position is some very good times and very tough times. I also put her on this list to represent something else. That females are often holding important positions in the Chancellery office of the America's Dioceses running very important programs and imprinting on it their Catholic Vision . Including as we see more and more the Chancellor position itself.

6. The Dominican Nuns -Mother Mary Assumpta Long, O.P. and others.

As we see certain Female Religious orders go into extinction other Orders are going gangbusters and spreading their influence. The Dominican Sisters here in the USA are a prime example. Often not seen on the media shows these Sisters are everywhere. From nursing homes, to youth ministry, and especially education. Including in the New Orleans French Quarter my state of Louisiana serving some of the most at risk children. The Mother House at Nashville is not the only place where Dominican action is taking place. As we can see in Ann Arbor they are growing, and in fact not shy about being in the public square on such issues as the HHS Mandate.

Jennifer Fulwiler

Danielle Bean

Jeanette De Melo

Elizabeth Scalia

7. Women of Social Media and Print Media - Elizabeth Scalia and JENNIFER FULWILER represent just two voice of the Catholic Social media that has a bigger and bigger influence on face of American Catholicism. A face that is very female.

Add to that people such as the new Editor of the National Catholic Register Jeanette De Melo ( part of the EWTN MEDIA Network) a New Orleans native She previously worked as communications Director for the Archdiocese of Denver which was led until recently by rising star Archbishop Chaput. Women Like Danielle Bean who are breathing new life into such Catholic standards as the Catholic Digest are part more and more of the Catholic media leadership. Of course this does not include all the women leading Catholic Diocese's newspapers and other ventures. . So there is not just one TOP ten Catholic media voice but many who these women represent.

Stacey Molari

8. The Women Of FOCUS.- FOCUS whose mission is provide Campus Ministry on an ever expanding number of College Campuses is what I would deem American Catholicism best kept secret.

Since 1998, nearly 250 young men and women have answered our Lord’s call to enter religious life or the seminary after involvement with FOCUS. A huge dynamic of this is the women involved in this Lay Missionary movement. For an example of this see this see Catholic Missionary Suing Government Willing to Risk Health Over HHS Mandate . It is that Catholic Female Evangelistic zeal of Molari that is the rule and not the exception of many of the women Lay Missionaries in this group. These women along with their male counterparts are engaging in major leadership on College Campuses that will have untold benefits. Further no doubt these women will serve Leadership roles in the Church and community of some importance because of this experience.

9 Female Canon Lawyers-

This is a surprise development but an important one. The vast majority of Canon lawyers are still men. But the explosion of Catholic Canon lawyers in the last few years is impressive and seems a trend. See
Canon Law Grad Finds Meaningful Work

Of the 1,200 members of the Canon Law Society of America (CLSA) who have canon law degrees, 14 percent are women, an increase from 10 percent a few years ago, according to Sister Sharon A. Euart, R.S.M., executive coordinator of CLSA.

This is quite significant if this trend continues. Sadly most Catholics experience with their Diocese's office is the marriage tribunal. The fact that more and more woman might be playing active roles here among their many duties is significant. I think this trend is worthy of it being in the top 10.

10- Sister Helen Prejean- I am a Louisiana guy so I got to give some PR to important Louisiana Native. That is Sister Helen Prejean. To say the least she is the most recognizable face of the Anti State execution movement in the United States. It's hard to imagine where the movement would be without her. I have had on several occasions the blessin to meet her. Though we no doubt disagree on some theological matters , her importance in the Catholic Church on this issue is still without measure.

11 - The Unherald Women

Those that run major immigrations offices, are heads of Catholic Schools, that do countless social justice work in organizations they lead. To the female Professors that are training our future priests to the Orthodox Catholic women in the public square.


Kurt said...

All of these women and it never occured to let one of them testify before Congress on birth control.

Bp. Lori should have set his ego aside and suggested one of them take his place.

James H said...

I thought Glendon would have been a good person to testify. Of course the fact she is sort of closely associated with Romney at this point might have made that problematic

Kurt said...

You, James have a lot more sense. Ample number of articulate, intelligent women exist who take the anti-contraception viewpoint. But still, it's the boys in charge.

There is a reason the contraception issue has been a gift to Obama and a losing issue to the GOP (which they are now running away from). It goes beyond the merits of the issue to the insensitivity towards women.

Lori, Limbaugh, and the rest just don't get it. Oh well, Obama 2012!!!!