US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Church ladies: The Catholic women who inspire us

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Every January, U.S. Catholic prints a special women's issue. For, we've collected some of the interviews, essays, and profiles over the last few years about Catholic women who are contributing to the church in a many ways, from providing excellent scholarship on Scripture to community organizing to fostering ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.




 The editors have had the privilege of speaking with many scholars about their fields of expertise. Here's a selection of notable women we've interviewed in the past few years.

Birth announcements: An interview with Sister Laurie Brink, O.P.
Why can't Luke and Matthew get their Nativity stories straight? Sister Laurie Brink, O.P. shines a little light on the first chapter of the greatest story every told.

Dream on: An interview with M. Shawn Copeland
Now that we've elected America's first African American president, what's the revised view from the mountain top? M. Shawn Copeland describes her perspective on a post-Obama, if not yet postracial, America.

Follow the laity: Zeni Fox on the future of lay ministry
The first lay ministers were quick to fill new roles and meet new needs, says Zeni Fox in this interview. Now the church as a whole is trying to catch up.

It's time to take our medicine: An interview with Sister Carol Keehan, D.C.
The health care debate pitted not only political parties against one another; it caused an argument in the Catholic family as well. The Catholic Health Association's Sister Carol Keehan, D.C. explains why the CHA broke with the bishops in support of health care reform. 

Spanglish lessons: Carmen Nanko-Fernandez on diversity and theology
Do you speak it? If not, you might want to learn, suggests Carmen Nanko-Fernández. Blending pop music and prayer, culture and church, the new Catholic generation likes to mix it up.

Don't focus on the family: Julie Hanlon Rubio on family ethics
The kids may be your first priority, says family ethicist Julie Hanlon Rubio, but they shouldn’t be your only one. A Catholic family’s concerns must extend beyond the front door.

A woman on the altar?: An interview with Phyllis Zagano
With the deacon being one of the traditional "arms" of the bishop, the needs of the church call for some "right-hand women" to proclaim the good news, and there's nothing in Catholic tradition that should stand in the way.


Wise Guides

The breadth of the Catholic tradition has provided many women to look up to as models of faith.

Humble piety
Jeanne Jugan could refuse God nothing, even at the cost of her own legacy.

Twenty years ago Sister Thea Bowman, F.S.P.A. got even bishops to dance. That alone might qualify her for canonization, and her "little" light still shines.

Fire starter
Chiara Lubich was inspired by a love that could gather many people around a single flame. Her Focolare movement sparked dialogue among religions that still lights a way the world over.

From Russia with love
Though once a baroness, Catherine de Hueck Doherty knew more about nobility of spirit than most aristocrats.


In Person profiles

They may not be official saints (yet), but these average women are contributing to the church and world in extraordinary ways.

Second helping: Betty Chin
Betty Chinn's road from homelessness in China to feeding the homeless in the United States could have broken her spirit. But Chinn's faith and a new truck paved the way for a ministry that today feeds hundreds.

Divine comedian: Siobhan Fallon Hogan
From Saturday Night Live to New in Town, character actress Siobhan Fallon Hogan has folks laughing out loud, but when it comes to her Catholic faith, she takes it quite seriously.

Mother's helper: Stephanie Garza
Another veteran of community organizing may have used it as a campaign slogan, but Stephanie Garza has been living "Si se puede" every day in her work with immigrant mothers. This Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award winner shares the secrets of her success.


Know a Catholic woman, famous or virtually unkown, who inspires how you live faithfuly? Email 500 words about her to We may share it on our blog.