These books speak to the issues confronted by women in the Catholic Church.


Chittister, Joan. In My Own Words (Liguori 2008)

Joan Chittister is one of the Church's key visionary voices and spiritual leaders in the post-Vatican II period, crisscrossing the globe to speak on behalf of women, peace, and human rights. “As much as she is admired, applauded, and honored, she has also criticized, vilified, and rejected…. But here’s the crux: She endures.” - Mary Lou Kownacki. Mary Lou has compiled and edited from the body of Joan’s work excerpts in an effort to respond to 7 pressing spiritual questions.


In Search of Belief (Liguori Publications, 2006)

“A refreshing and contemporary analysis of the true meaning of the Creed. Honest and thought provoking, In Search of Belief calls us to a spiritual adulthood...Not for the spiritually faint-hearted.” --Edwina Gately


Heart of Flesh: A Feminist Spirituality for Women and Men (Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1998)

In a world that glamorizes violence and legitimates domination, Chittister unmasks the effects of sexism on both men and women and describes a spirituality that makes healthier, happier human beings of us all. This is a social-historical analysis with heart, prophetic vision with muscle and soul, each chapter elucidated by anecdotes from Chittister’s personal spiritual journey. A thoughtful and compelling call for women and men together to reshape the world – and why we need to do it.


The Friendship of Women: The Hidden Tradition of the Bible (Blueridge, 2006)

Looking deeply into biblical stories of female friendships in order to extract greater truths, this compelling work explores the sacred dimension of friendship through the lenses of faith, tradition, and scripture, revealing the often overlooked voices and experiences of women in the Old and New Testaments. Recovering and reclaiming the witness and wisdom of such women as Lydia, Prisca, Phoebe, Martha, Deborah, Esther, Rachel, Ruth, Veronica, Elizabeth, Anne, and Mary Magdalene, and drawing a highly inspiring message from each of these women's lives, the book embraces friendship as it is embodied by women, between God and all of creation, and between all human beings.


Cummings, Owen F. Mystical Women, Mystical Body (Pastoral Press, 2000)

An examination of the Eucharistic spirituality of 10 women mystics, among them Hildegard of Bingen, Teresa of Avila and Edith Stein - The author takes a serious look at both the women’s mysticism and their Eucharistic reflections. He examines how personal and social experiences like church reform, physical healing and empowerment shaped the lives and theologies of these remarkable women. Can be ordered directly thru OCP


Gateley, Edwina and Louis S. Glanzman. Soul Sisters: Women in Scripture Speak to Women Today (Orbis, 2002)

These beautiful portraits by renowned artist Louis Glanzman have inspired author Edwina Gateley to reach into the soul of these women from the New Testament, and apply their stories to situations that have happened in modern times. Each chapter begins with a portion of scripture that pertains to the woman in the painting. The 12 portraits and chapters are: Elizabeth, Anna the Prophetess, Mary, The Widow's Mite, Martha, The Infirm Woman, The Samaritan Woman, The Woman Caught in Adultery, The Woman with the Hemorrhage, The Daughter of Jairus (which is the on the cover), The Penitent Woman, Mary Magdalene, and there is a thirteenth portrait of a mother and child next to the preface page that is unidentified.


Gebara, Ivone. Longing for Running Water: Ecofeminism and Liberation (Fortress Press, 1999)

Biblical reflections on ministry. “Her theology does not begin with absolutes from on high, but with daily life among poor women of Latin America from whose context the interconnected dominations of race, class, gender and the earth are not a theory but a concrete reality. It is from this context that Gebara reflects on the themes of theology, on epistemology, the nature of the human person, God, Jesus and redemptive hope" ---Rosemary Radford Ruether


Johnson, Elizabeth A. She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse (Crossroad Herder, 1992)

This is perhaps the best book of feminist theology to date, She Who Is is at once thoroughly orthodox, grounded in classical Christian thought, liberatingly contemporary, and rooted in women's experience. Johnson reviews the history of Christian language about God and explains the need for feminist language about God, thereby providing background for non-theologians. She then develops an inclusive and creative Christian spiritual doctrine.


Truly Our Sister: A Theology of Mary in the Communion of Saints (Continuum, 2003)

The first-century Jewish woman Miriam of Nazareth, mother of Jesus, is the most celebrated female religious figure in the Christian tradition. Elizabeth Johnson offers an interpretation of Mary that is theologically sound, spiritually empowering, ethically challenging, socially liberating, and ecumenically fruitful. In particular, she sees the image of Mary as a blessing rather than a blight for women's lives in both religious and political terms.


McKenna, Megan, Not Counting Women and Children: Neglected Stories from the Bible (Orbis Books, 1994)

McKenna selected Hebrew and Christian scripture stories to get the reader thinking like one of the poor, the not-counted, the forgotten-- and to take action, which may mean confronting the dominant culture rather than following it. The first story recounts the parable of the five loaves and two fishes from Matthew's Gospel, in which a crowd of 5000 are fed, "not counting women and children." Other chapters present the women of Exodus, Abigail, the widow of Naim, Sarah, Hagar, the Canaanite woman, and women in the genealogy of Jesus. Each chapter is substantive and rich, requiring thought and reflection. McKenna has included comments and related stories from her classes, missions and retreats. Taken a chapter at a time, the book would well serve a prayer circle or reading group. In the Afterword, the author suggests questions to use after reading each portion.


Ruether, Rosemary Radford, & Eleanor McLaughlin ed., Women of Spirit: Female Leadership in the Jewish and Christian Traditions (Simon & Schuster, 1979)

A compilation of essays on the role of women in the institutional and ordained leadership of Western religion. The authors discuss religious women as charismatic leaders, holy women, martyrs, dissenters, renewers and reformers, as well as theological images of the feminine - in God, the Christ-Church relationship, and the self. The studies are historical and descriptive both, from the early church to the present day.


Schneiders, Sandra M. With Oil in Their Lamps: Faith Feminism and the Future (Paulist Press, 2000)

In this Madeleva Lecture, Schneiders takes a long and clarifying look at feminism—both its impact on the past and its promise for the future. Drawing on insights of feminist thinkers and biblical tradition, she suggests how a Gospel-informed feminism can offer a new vision of humanity, Church and world.


Schüssler Fiorenza , Elizabeth. In Memory of Her; A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins (Crossroad Publishing, 2000)

A foundational book about the New Testament evidence about women’s place in ministry especially as the presiders of house churches. “From Biblical and extra-canonical literature, Schussler-Fiorenza gleans many little jewels of insight into the role of women in the early church. She compares the epistles of Peter and Paul, which enjoin restraint and submission of women, to the writers of the primary Gospels who emphasize altruistic love and service, not any form of hierarchy, as the substance of spiritual life.”


Torjesen, Karen Jo. When Women Were Priests: Women’s Leadership in the Early Church and the Scandal of their Subordination in the rise of Christianity (HarperSanFrancisco, 1995)

Torjensen details the historical evidence that women were priests, bishops, and even prophets in the early Christian Church. She traces the connection between the church’s move from private to public spheres and the corresponding move to suppress women’s leadership. It lays bare the historic roots of the Church’s prejudice against women.


Turpin, Joanne, Women in Church History: 21 Stories for 21 Centuries (St. Anthony Messenger Press , 2007)

From first-century Rome’s Prisca the Evangelist, companion of Paul, to Dorothy Stang, a missionary sister in twenty-first century Brazil, Joanne Turpin takes us on the lively and adventurous journeys of twenty-one women invaluable to the twenty-one centuries of Catholic Church history. Each woman included in this inspiring volume for her exceptional contribution to the Catholic Church also portrays personal holiness and moral courage.


Weaver, Mary Jo. New Catholic Women: A Contemporary Challenge to Traditional Religious Authority (IN University Press, 1995)

Weaver chronicles the development of American Catholic feminism beginning with a survey of women's little-noticed contributions to American Catholicism, she goes on to describe the emergence of feminist consciousness in Catholic laywomen, the "immigrants becoming emigrants," and in nuns, the "inside outsiders" of the Church. She presents and analyzes Catholic women's demand first for ordination and later for structural change, the contributions of feminist theologians, and the spirituality that derives from contemporary women's experience.




Bonavoglia, Angela; Good Catholic Girls (HarperOne, 2006).

Click here for the author's web site.


Gateley, Edwina; In God’s Womb (Orbis Books, 2009).

Click here for the author's web site.

Click here for a review by John Dear.


Johnson, Elizabeth (Editor); The Church Women Want (Crossroad Publishing, 2002).

Click here for the author's web site at Fordham University.


Marren, Joseph; Talking Treason in Church: The Layperson’s Guide to Renewing the Catholic Church, 2010.

Click here for the author's web site for the book.


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