Women in Church Leadership
Pilgrimages to sites of early Christian women leaders

photo2014 Pilgrimage to Rome

Highlights from 2014 Pilgrimage

In March, FutureChurch’s Deborah Rose-Milavec and Sr. Chris Schenk had the privilege of journeying with thirty-one extraordinary pilgrims to early Christian sites in Rome  to explore ancient house churches and other settings where women functioned as leaders. Led by world renowned scholar, Sr. Carolyn Osiek, the group visited catacombs and basilicas that bore the names of women leaders like Priscilla, Pudentiana, Praxedis and Domitilla and viewed ancient frescoes and sarcophagi friezes depicting women leaders.

Sr. Chris Schenk led the group with beautiful prayer services that evoked the stories and memories pilgrimageof our foremothers in faith, as well as courageous women of our day whose faithful commitment, daily service and prophetic leadership are changing the face of the Church.

Pilgrims came from the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. with the youngest being 14 years old. Many were scholars in their own right in the field of early Christian history. The group was comprised of academics, teachers, clergy, ministers, activists, and leaders who brought a rich mix of knowledge and experience to all our explorations and interactions.

During our time there, Deb and Chris also visited several Vatican offices were we handed over more than 26,000 signatures from Catholics asking for the restoration of optional celibacy and women to the diaconate and urging the Synod officials to include women theologians We also sent copies of FutureChurch’s Celebrating Women Witnesses in Spanish to Pope Francis with our resources on the many women witnesses and leaders who are missing from the Lectionary.

To our great delight, Vatican Radio interviewed Sr. Chris Schenk to discuss the meaning of the pilgrimage and its impact on women’s lives in the Church today.   Stay tuned! FutureChurch will head to Greece in October 2015 to follow in the footsteps of early women leaders there.