Women Erased Series

FutureChurch will host multiple online presentations which will uncover the many ways women's leadership, witness, and ministries have been erased from our Church's Scriptures and Lectionary, historical record and memory, and communities. These sessions, featuring leading Scripture scholars and Church historians, will not only name and explore the history, but also put forth resources for correcting the record and telling the true story of women's central role in shaping and spreading Christianity from its beginnings to today. 

Please use the registration form following the presentation descriptions to sign up to join us. 


Women Erased:  Women Icons of Christ

January 28, 2021 (Thursday) at 8:00pm ET

Phyllis Zagano traces the history of ministry by women, especially those ordained as deacons. History teaches that women ministered in baptism, catechesis, altar service, spiritual direction, and confession, and anointed the sick, either as deacons or as lay persons. Women: Icons of Christ demonstrates how priestly clericalism effectively removed women’s leadership, voices, and official ministries from the life of the Church by eliminating women from sacramental ministry, altar service, and preaching. 

The question, “Who can be an icon of Christ?” underlies the discussion. There seems to be a simple answer. We know from the revelation of Scripture that all Christians are equally human, all Christians are part of the Body of Christ. Yet, the Catholic Church both really and symbolically excludes half its members. 

Women cannot be ordained to the renewed diaconate, even though the most complete Church histories demonstrate genuine precedent. Why? The reduction of all the arguments, supported by the manipulation of history, is that women cannot image Christ. Phyllis Zagano presents cogent arguments supported by history to refute arguments against restoring women to the ordained diaconate.

Dr. Phyllis Zagano is an internationally acclaimed Catholic scholar who has lectured throughout the United States, and in Canada, Europe and Australia. Her many awards include the 2014 Isaac Hecker Award for Social Justice from The Paulist Center Community in Boston for “her prolific body of work that has constantly echoed the cry of the poorest of our society for dignity and for justice both inside and outside the church....specifically the dignity of all women.” Her groundbreaking work on women in the diaconate led to her appointment to the Pontifical Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women in 2016. She has taught at Fordham, Boston, and Yale Universities, and currently holds a research appointment at Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York. Her presentation will focus on her latest book, Women: Icons of Christ, published by Paulist Press.



Women Erased:  The Women of the Second Vatican Council

Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 8pm ET

Many Catholics are not aware that women were also invited as auditors and participants to the Second Vatican Council.  Mary Luke Tobin, SL, who at that time was at the head of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was a savvy participant who found her way into some of the council's drafting sessions.  Other women influenced the documents as well, but more than anything, the presence of women at the third and fourth sessions was controversial for many of the prelates attending.  

Sr. Maureen Sullivan will offer an overview of the experience and contributions of the women who attended the Second Vatican Council.  Join us and find out which of the sixteen documents were influenced by Catholic women, as well as Catholic prelates and theologians.

Maureen Sullivan, O.P. is a Dominican Sister of Hope from New York.  She received her M.A. in Religious Studies from Manhattan College in the Bronx and her Ph.D. in Theology, also in the Bronx.  She is Professor Emerita of Theology at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire.  Prior to her ministry at St. Anselm College, she served for two years as Academic Dean for Freshmen at Fordham College, followed by two years as the Associate Dean of the College.  Sr. Maureen is a member of the Board of Trustees at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY.  After taking early retirement from St. Anselm College in 2015, Sr. Maureen continues to be engaged in theology by giving talks on a number of theological topics at various conferences to Catholic school teachers, catechists, diocesan leaders, and Religious Congregations.  The study of the Church is at the center of her theological research, with a special focus on the Second Vatican Council.  Sr. Maureen has written two books on the Council:  101 Questions and Answers on Vatican II, 2002, and The Road to Vatican II: Key Changes in Theology, 2007, both published by Paulist Press.




Women Erased from the Lectionary

Wednesday May 6, 2020 at 7pm Eastern Time
The books, witnesses, stories, and accomplishments of Biblical women are disproportionately underrepresented in the assigned Scripture readings for the Church year. Some women are omitted entirely, others are only read at weekday mass, and still others are made "optional." Who are these women? And how can we recover their stories? Michael Peppard, PhD, associate professor of New Testament Studies at Fordham University, will offer insights from his research on the women of Romans 16 and previous studies of women omitted or made optional in the Roman Catholic Lectionary. Read Michael Peppard's Commonweal article, "Household Names: Junia, Phoebe, & Prisca in Early Christian Rome" by clicking here.  



Women Erased:  Reading the Bible "Against the Grain"

Thursday June 18, 2020 at 8pm Eastern Time 

For centuries, readers and interpreters of the Bible have traditionally read the text “with the grain.”  Many have sought to use the Bible for personal and spiritual enrichment and nourishment Today, however, we live in the twenty-first century globalized world, and if we want to achieve global justice, then we have to begin reading the biblical text “against the grain.” and interpreting it critically. New interpretation theories help us to see how cultures and cultural attitudes have shaped the Bible and how the Bible, as the most read book in the world, continues to shape and re-inscribe various oppressive cultural attitudes today that have had an effect on our political, social, economic, and religious institutions.   Professor Carol J. Dempsey, OP is an internationally recognized and award-winning scholar who teaches courses in Biblical Studies, specifically in Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. With particular expertise in the Prophets, Professor Dempsey’s interests lie in a feminist and liberation approach to biblical texts, gender studies, biblical theology, literary and rhetorical criticism, and environmental/ecological studies. She teaches an introductory course in Bible as well as courses in the Prophets, Wisdom, Gender, Biblical Spirituality.   Prof. Dempsey is the author of eight books and the editor/co-editor of 12 books. The former Vice-President of the National College Theology Society, she serves on the editorial board of The Catholic Biblical Quarterly and Old Testament Abstracts. She is active in several professional societies and has lectured widely, both nationally and internationally. She is currently working on two commentaries on Isaiah among other contracted research projects.


Women Erased: In Search of the Majority

Tuesday July 14, 2020 at 8pm Eastern Time
Throughout the early (2nd-6th) Christian centuries, the lives of most women were lived in silence, while the few elite ascetic women got at least some attention. What about the rest? Dr. Carolyn Osiek, RSCJ, Catholic Professor of New Testament emerita at Brite Divinity School and past president of the Catholic Biblical Association, will explore the lives of these early Christian women, paying attention to how prevailing cultural norms and philosophies - not the gospel of Jesus - silenced them. 


Women Erased: Restoring the Memory of Black Catholic Women in Our Tradition and History

Thursday August 27, 2020 at 8pm Eastern Time
Black Catholic Women have been instrumental in shaping the life and faith of the Church, yet, our collective memory of their work, courage, challenge, generosity, and faith is too often made "invisible" in our Catholic education, Catholic liturgy, and Catholic art.  Sr. Anita Baird, a native of Chicago, IL,  and a member of the Religious Congregation of the Society of the Daughters of the Heart of Mary will share the stories of some of the Black Catholic Women who challenged the Church, challenged their communities, and brought enormous change to this country as they stood against racism and for a more just Catholic Church and world.



Women Erased:  Talking Truth About Women and the Sacraments

September 22, 2020 at 8pm Eastern Time

Women have always been at the heart of the sacraments and the sacramental life of the Catholic Church.  In the real world where Catholics participate in the Eucharist and the Eucharistic life of the parish/community, women are the backbone.  As evidenced recently by women's witness at the Amazon, they heal, teach, preach, bury, baptize, witness marriage, listen to confessions, offer liturgies of the word, and more.  But their ministry is, too often, erased -- unrecognized, and undervalued in that they do not receive the same official sanction as male ministers - yielding both sacramental grace and authority for their ministry.

Dr. Susan A. Ross, argues that when it comes to the sacraments, the requirements of Catholic social justice have not applied, a disjuncture that severely limits the transformative power of the Eucharist and our common sacramental life.  Yet, she also calls attention to what is changing - mapping the opportunities for transformation and emerging realities that are currently redefining our common sacramental life.  

Dr. Susan A. Ross is Professor Emerita.  She retired last year after a long illustrious career as professor of Theology and Faculty Scholar at Loyola University Chicago.  She is the author of Anthropology: Seeking Light and Beauty (Liturgical Press, 2012), For the Beauty of the Earth: Women, Sacramentality and Justice (Paulist, 2006), Extravagant Affections: A Feminist Sacramental Theology(Continuum, 1998) and over 75 journal articles and book chapters. She is the recipient of a Louisville Institute Sabbatical Grant, the Book of the Year Award from the College Theology Society in 1999, and the Ann O'Hara Graff Award of the Women's Seminar of the Catholic Theological Society of America. She is Past President of the Catholic Theological Society of America (2012-13) and served as Vice President and member of the editorial board of Concilium: International Theological Journal.From 2008-2016 she served as chair of the Theology Department at Loyola. She has taught many courses including Beauty and Ethics, Theological Anthropology, Conscience, and Religion and Gender.



Women Erased:   #NunsToo -- Media's Role in Obscuring the Abuse of Women by Priests

October 8, 2020 at 8pm Eastern Time

The sexual exploitation/abuse of women religious by Catholic priests was first reported by Sr. Maureen O'Donoghue in her 1994 report to the Vatican -- a report that remained largely overlooked until 2001.  This practice of "erasing" the experience and reality of Catholic women remains today. Professor Tara M. Tuttle probes the manner in which media outlets submerged the experiences and realities of Catholic women, both lay and consecrated, as they sought to affirm their own biases regarding the connection between clergy sexual abuse and homosexuality.  That motif, along with inordinate deference for prelate and priest abusers, corrupted the truth and propped up the abuser's narrative where women's credibility was questioned and their efforts to access justice were routinely discounted or despised.  Thus, women, accused of treachery against the Church for going public, suffered, too often, in silence. Professor Tara M. Tuttle is the Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion and a Senior Lecturer in the Lewis Honors College. She has a Ph.D. in Humanities with an emphasis in 20th century American culture, a graduate certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of Louisville, and an MA in Humanities from Indiana State University. Passionate about Honors education, she worked in the Honors Program at Indiana State University, taught Honors courses as affiliate faculty in the Honors Program at Ball State University, and developed the Honors Program at St. Catharine College (now closed) before joining the faculty in the Lewis Honors College here at the University of Kentucky. Her research examines contemporary women writers’ uses of scriptural allusion to challenge conventional understandings of gender and justice. She is interested in the ways in which members of marginalized or contested groups deploy biblical allusion to prompt reconsiderations of hierarchical interpretations of scripture used to validate social, political, and legal inequities as moral or divinely mandated.  Her recent contribution, "#NunsToo" in Crisis and Challenge in the Roman Catholic Church, provides a window into the research she conducted on this topic



Women Erased: Adam has a Womb

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 at 8pm Eastern Time

The story of Adam and Eve has been used for centuries to put women in their place ("Eve was made from Adam's rib as a helpmate for him") and to castigate the LGBTQ community ("It's Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve!"), but did you know that the Bible does not actually tell that story? FutureChurch hosted a screening of the delightful and eye-opening animated short film (m)adam: Adam's Rib Reframed and a no-holds-barred discussion with filmmaker, Catholic Chaplain Lizzie Berne DeGear, PhD. (m)adam just won Best Religious Film at the Viva International Film Festival.

Lizzie Berne DeGear, PhD is a chaplain, writer, Bible scholar and Catholic feminist. Her biblical scholarship combines depth psychology and theology and has appeared in Religious Education and the UTS Quarterly Review, as well as in her book For She Has Heard. She is a contributing author to Guidepost's Mornings with Jesus: Daily Encouragement for your Soul (2019 and 2020 editions)and is currently completing a book on the Gospel of Mark entitled Someone Called Jesus: An Intimate Introduction to Christ. Certified by the National Association of Catholic Chaplains since 2002, she enjoyed teaching Bible Studies at the Church of St. Francis Xavier from 2002-2019. In partnership with FutureChurch, Women's Ordination Conference and Call to Action, she co-founded the movement Feminism & Faith in Union in 2018. Here homily for Catholic Women Preach in honor of the Feast of Mary Magdalene can be seen here and for more about Lizzie and her work, you can visit her website here.


***Additional presentations forthcoming. After registering just once below, we will send you updates about future presentations and links to join.*** 

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