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FutureChurch Leads Pilgrimage to Uncover Early Christian Women’s Voices even as Catholic Women’s Voices are Being Stifled Today
Release date: 
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

From March 28 to April 3 FutureChurch Co-Director, Russ Petrus, and Co-Founder, Christine Schenk, CSJ, will lead 28 pilgrims in Rome and Ostia to study funerary archeological evidence of women’s authority in Christianity during the third to fifth centuries.

“FutureChurch has been leading pilgrimages since 2006 to recover and honor the lives, ministries, and voices of early Christian women,” said Deborah Rose-Milavec, Co-Director of FutureChurch.  “These efforts take on a new level of importance as we consider catastrophic events such as the protest resignation of Lucetta Scaraffi and her entire staff from the Vatican magazine Women Church World a monthly publication of Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore when male leadership attempted to undercut their independent voices, especially as they reported on clergy sexual abuse against nuns and other topics that challenged clericalism, patriarchy, and sexism within the Church.”

“These pilgrimages are just one of the unique and transformative ways FutureChurch brings the voices of women –ancient and sometimes forgotten women –  and those experiencing silencing today to the table,” said FutureChurch Co-Director Russ Petrus who will serve as spiritual director during the pilgrimage.

The group will explore ancient frescos; mosaics; sarcophagi friezes of early women leaders found at the Pio Cristiano museum; ancient house churches and basilicas such as St. Pudentiana and St. Praxedis; as well as several catacombs including the Catacombs of Priscilla and the Catacombs of Domatilla. Participants will also tour excavated Ostia, an excellent example of Roman life in the Christian period.  Many participants will also travel to Naples (where they will visit the Catacombs of San Gennaro), Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Each day, educational director, Sr. Chris Schenk will present on the day’s sites and sights as well as the women associated with them. Schenk is the author of the award-winning book Crispina and Her Sisters: Women and Authority in Early Christianity (Fortress Press, 2017.)

“It’s exciting to recover and rediscover the stories of committed, faith-filled women who helped bring Christianity to the ancient Greco-Roman world,” said Schenk. “It’s inspiring to see new hope and energy arising in the participants as they learn about the courage and tenacity of Early Christian women and find inspiration for women’s ministry and authority in the Church today,” she added.


At each site, Russ will lead prayer services honoring early women leaders such as St. Prisca, St. Monica and SS. Perpetua and St. Felicity. “It will be both humbling and inspiring to stand with these ancient women and pray together for our church and world,” he said. Petrus will also be blogging frequently at

Petrus will also be working with FutureChurch partners to promote ongoing campaigns such as, “Votes for Catholic Women” while in Rome. 

“FutureChurch’s work in Rome will do much to help overcome the silencing of women’s voices – yesterday and today”, said Rose-Milavec.

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About FutureChurch Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, FutureChurch seeks changes that will provide all Roman Catholics the opportunity to participate fully in Church life and leadership. It is a national coalition of parish centered Catholics striving to educate fellow Catholics about the seriousness of the priest shortage, the centrality of the Eucharist (the Mass), and the systemic inequality of women in the Catholic Church. FutureChurch is a nonprofit organization that makes presentations throughout the country, distributes education, advocacy and prayer resources and recruits activists who work on behalf of its mission.