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The second Women of the Church Conference was held October 18-20, 2019 on the beautiful campus of Saint Mary’s College.

This national conference focused on the diverse work of Catholic women in the Church and in the world, examined how women’s leadership is a source of strength and knowledge, and imagined new possibilities for women as leaders in the Catholic Church.

Key questions for the conference included:

  • How are women who work in Catholic institutions already leading? How are Catholic women leading in society? What skills and dispositions have they developed that are effective?
  • How might women further lead as they work in Catholic institutions? What new knowledge, skills, or dispositions must be developed or shared?
  • What would effective women’s leadership in the Catholic Church look like?
  • How can we acknowledge what has been painful, nurture what has promise, and imagine new possibilities for women’s leadership in the Catholic Church?


In the News

Here are some articles related to the 2019 Women of the Church conference at Saint Mary’s College.

  • An article by Marnie McAllister ran in The Record, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Louisville, and in Crux.


  • Here’s an article from Today’s Catholic, the newspaper for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend:




  • Cecilia González-Andrieu
    Cecilia González-Andrieu
    Associate Professor of Theology, Loyola Marymount

    A scholar-activist González-Andrieu speaks and marches with those who thirst for the liberative power of theological thought in a number of interlaced areas of inquiry. Her scholarly writings explore theological aesthetics, educational justice and access, Latinx theology, and the theology of Pope Francis, while also writing on immigration, education, and current political concerns as a contributor for America magazine.

    She is the author of Bridge to Wonder: Art as a Gospel of Beauty and co-editor of Teaching Global Theologies: Power and Praxis. At LMU, González-Andrieu leads the university’s work with undocumented students and issues of worker justice. She is a member of the board of the Ignatian Solidarity Network and co-chairs LMU’s Latino Theology and Ministry Initiative.

  • Joan Rosenahuer
    Joan Rosenahuer
    Executive Director, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

    In this role, Rosenhauer leads the organization’s efforts in the US to fulfill its mission of accompanying, serving, and advocating for refugees and displaced people in over 50 countries around the world.
    Rosenhauer is a former Jesuit Refugee Service/USA board member and served as an executive vice president of Catholic Relief Services (CRS), where she led the organization’s US outreach, marketing and communications, and advocacy, helping those in the United States respond to critical needs around the world.

    Prior to joining CRS, she was associate director of the Department of Justice, Peace, and Human Development at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. She has been awarded honorary doctorates from Dominican College and St. Ambrose University.

  • Kerry Robinson
    Founding Executive Director and Global Ambassador, Leadership Roundtable

    Robinson has been an advisor to and trustee of numerous grantmaking foundations, family philanthropies, and charitable nonprofits since 1990, and a member of the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities and Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities (FADICA). She served as the director of development for Saint Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center at Yale University. There she led a $75 million fundraising drive to expand and endow the Chapel’s intellectual and spiritual ministry and to construct a Catholic student center on Yale’s campus. She is the prize-winning author of Imagining Abundance: Fundraising, Philanthropy and a Spiritual Call to Service and a columnist for Chicago Catholic.

  • Break Out Session Speakers
  • Sister Sharlet Ann Wagner, CSC

    Sister Sharlet Ann Wagner, CSC, has served in ministry with the Sisters of the Holy Cross for 27 years. Currently, she is first councilor of her congregation’s leadership team. She is also President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which is an association of leaders of women’s Catholic congregations in the United States. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas, Wagner taught high school in Utah before serving at a Holy Cross health clinic in Uganda, Africa. She went on to earn her law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. As an immigration attorney, Wagner served with Central American Resource Center, Los Angeles, and at Holy Cross Ministries in Salt Lake City, where she later worked as Immigration Department Director. Wagner is also on the Board of Trustees for St. Alphonsus Health System in Boise, Idaho.

  • Kim Daniels

    Kim Daniels is Associate Director of Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life. She is a member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, a consultor to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Religious Liberty, and has been an advisor to other leading Catholic organizations. Daniels is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Chicago Law School.

  • Zuzanna Flisowska

    Zuzanna Flisowska is General Manager of Voices of Faith, an international initiative advocating for women in leadership positions of the Catholic Church. She has degrees in history of art from the University of Warsaw in Poland and Catholic theology from the Pontifical Faculty of Theology in Warsaw Collegium Bobolanum, concentrating her research on the relation between art and spirituality in early modern Europe and in religious reform strategies in that period. Flisowska dedicated her early professional experience to the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw from 2013-2014 and the Museum of King Jan III’s Palace at Wilanów, Warsaw from 2015-2018, and post-graduate academic research Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, Germany in 2014 to the relation between culture and religion. She lives and works in Rome, Italy.

  • Kim R. Harris
    Performing at Banquet Concert

    Dr. Kim R. Harris is Assistant Professor of African American Thought and Practice in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University. While pursuing her PhD at Union Seminary in New York City, Harris composed Welcome Table: A Mass of Spirituals, along with composer M. Roger Holland II. She records and travels the nation, performing concerts, lecturing on the music of African American freedom traditions, and leading music in a variety of liturgical settings.

  • Bridget Burke Ravizza
    Breakout Session Presenter

    Dr. Bridget Burke Ravizza is an Associate Professor of Theology at St. Norbert College. Her areas of scholarly interest are the ethics of marriage and family and sexual ethics. She contributed “Feminism a Must: Catholic Sexual Ethics for Today’s College Classroom” to Women, Wisdom, and Witness: Engaging Contexts in Conversation. She and Julie Massey have collaborated regularly over the years, presenting their work locally, nationally, and internationally. Joint publications include “Sexual Ethics at a Catholic College: Curricular and Extra-Curricular Challenges and Responsibilities,” in INTAMS Review (Journal for the Study of Marriage & Spirituality) and the book Project Holiness: Marriage as a Workshop for Everyday Saints (Liturgical Press, 2015).

  • Sister Donna L. Ciangio, OP
    Breakout Session Presenter

    Sister Donna Ciangio is a Dominican Sister of Caldwell, New Jersey and holds a doctorate from Drew University. She is Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Newark and Director of Church Leadership Consultation. Ciangio works internationally and nationally in promoting parish vitality and pastoral direction, congregational and leadership development, faith formation, small Christian communities, consulting with parishes and dioceses, and in many other areas. She served as the International Coordinator for Renew and the Director of Pastoral Services of the National Pastoral Life Center and as parish consultant for the Jesuit Conference USA. Cinagio also serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Rose of Lima Church in Short Hills, New Jersey, is an adjunct faculty member in Drew University’s Doctor of Ministry program, and a consultant for RCL Benziger Publishing Company. Her articles have appeared in Today’s Parish, Ligourian, CHURCH Magazine, and in publications from Crossroads, Paulist Press, and St. Anthony Messenger Press. A recent book of hers is Open Our Hearts: A Small Group Guide for an Active Lent, a faith-sharing book (with Rev. Thomas Iwanowski) from Ave Maria Press. Ciangio also serves on the Board of Trustees of Caldwell University and the Center for Ministry Development and is Chairperson of the North American Forum for Small Christian Communities.

  • Sister Maria Cimperman, RSCJ
    Breakout Session Presenter

    Dr. Maria Cimperman, RSCJ, is Associate Professor of Theological Ethics at Catholic Theological Union (CTU), a graduate school of theology and ministry in Chicago. She is also Director of the Center for the Study of Consecrated Life at CTU. Her research and writing address contemporary issues at the intersection of social ethics, moral theology and spirituality. An engaging presenter, Cimperman works nationally and internationally to offer global perspectives through a reflective lens. She is the author of Social Analysis for the 21st Century: How Faith Becomes Action and the recently completed Religious Life For the 21st Century: Creating Communities of Hope on a Global Scale, to be published in 2020. Cimperman is a Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

  • Rachel Espinoza
    Breakout Session Presenter

    Rachel Espinoza is the Director of Children and Family Catechesis at Saint Clement Parish in Chicago. She earned a BA in Theology and Catechetics from Franciscan University in 2007 and an MDiv degree from the University of Notre Dame in 2011. Espinoza has worked professionally in parish ministry for ten years and is dually certified as a Pastoral Associate and Director of Religious Education in the Archdiocese of Chicago. She has also published several works, including Sunday Prayer for Catholic School Teachers (2015-2016), Sunday Prayer for Teens (2016-2017) through Liturgy Training Publications, and co-authored a piece on the challenges of Natural Family Planning (“Relying on Each Other”) published in America Magazine in May 2015. Her main passion in the area of ministry is the intersection of evangelization and catechesis. Espinoza lives on the north side of Chicago with her husband Gibran, her cat DJ, and welcomed her first child in June 2019.

  • Emily Garvey
    Breakout Session Presenter

    Emily Garvey is the Administration and Education Assistant Director in the Summer Service Learning Program at the Center for Social Concerns, University of Notre Dame. Garvey holds an MA in Systematic Theology from the University of Notre Dame and a BA in English and Philosophy from Saint Mary’s College. Prior to joining the University in 2005, she served populations of people with developmental disabilities, mental illness, and dementia for a number of years.

  • Margaret Marion Gower
    Breakout Session Presenter

    Dr. Margaret Marion Gower is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Saint Mary’s College. She received her PhD in the Study of Religion at Harvard University. She earned an AB at Mount Holyoke College and an MTS at Harvard Divinity School. Gower’s research and teaching interests include Christian theology, Christian spirituality, and Paris in the Middle Ages.

  • Natalia Imperatori-Lee
    Breakout Session Presenter

    Dr. Natalia Imperatori-Lee is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Manhattan College in the Bronx, NY, where she also coordinates the Catholic Studies program. She is the author of Cuéntame: Narrative in the Ecclesial Present (Orbis Books, 2018). Her work focuses on the intersection of Latinx theologies, feminist theologies, and Catholic ecclesiology. She has published in Theological Studies and The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. A native of Miami, Florida, Imperatori-Lee has served on the Board of Directors of the Catholic Theological Society of America and the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the US. She recently presented at a series of seminars on the implementation of Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia. At Manhattan College, Imperatori-Lee teaches courses on contemporary Catholicism, including Vatican II, as well as courses like Sexuality and the Sacred and Women in Western Religion. She is currently working on a book about women in the Catholic Church. Imperatori-Lee speaks regularly at parishes, universities, and in other venues about feminism, faith, and the Latinx communities in the United States. Her writing has appeared in Commonweal and America magazines, and she has appeared as a guest expert on Pope Francis on CNN and MSNBC. She lives in the Bronx with her spouse and two sons.

  • Layla Karst
    Breakout Session Presenter

    Dr. Layla Karst is Assistant Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University. Her current research explores the theology and practice of Christian pilgrimage. Drawing from the work of systematic theologians, cultural anthropologists, and critical theorists, Karst reimagines Christian pilgrimage as part of the liturgical repertoire of the church. She is a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy and the Catholic Theological Society of America and holds a PhD from Emory University and an MDiv degree from the University of Notre Dame.

  • Beth Knobbe
    Breakout Session Presenter

    Beth Knobbe serves as Relationship Manager with Catholic Relief Services/Midwest Region in Chicago, working with dioceses and universities to engage Catholics in living their faith in solidarity with the poor around the world. Prior to CRS, Knobbe served as a campus minister at the Sheil Catholic Center at Northwestern University where she coordinated spirituality programs and international service-immersion trips. She earned an MDiv degree from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, and she has a BS from Briar Cliff University. Knobbe has traveled extensively and also shares her time writing and speaking about the spiritual life. She is the author of Party of One: Living Single with Faith, Purpose, and Passion (2011) and Finding My Voice: A Young Woman’s Perspective (2009).

  • Julie Massey
    Breakout Session Presenter

    Julie Donovan Massey serves as the Interim Vice President for Mission and Student Affairs at St. Norbert College. Massey earned an MDiv from Loyola University Chicago. She has been published in America MagazineLiguorian Magazine and in the texts Understanding Student Affairs in Catholic Colleges and Universities (Sheed and Ward, 2002) and Student Life in Catholic Higher Education: Advancing Good Practice (Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, 2017). She and Bridget Burke Ravizza have collaborated regularly over the years, presenting their work locally, nationally, and internationally. Joint publications include “Sexual Ethics at a Catholic College: Curricular and Extra-Curricular Challenges and Responsibilities,” in INTAMS Review (Journal for the Study of Marriage & Spirituality) and Project Holiness: Marriage as a Workshop for Everyday Saints (Liturgical Press, 2015). Massey also serves as a campus consultant for the Council of Independent College’s Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE).

  • Stacey Noem
    Breakout Session Presenter

    Stacey Noem is Director of Human and Spiritual Formation for lay students in the MDiv program at the University of Notre Dame. In the theology department, she teaches courses in Formation for Ecclesial Ministry, Leadership, Authority and Power, and Pastoral Topics. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, Noem worked at the University of Portland where she served for seven years in Campus Ministry as Assistant Director of Faith Formation. She is currently an officer for the Association of Graduate Programs in Ministry and a former member of the Executive Board of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association. In 2014, Noem worked with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps to reshape their domestic orientation program nationally. A former Jesuit Volunteer in Alaska, she has also worked extensively with JVC: NW, PACE, and ECHO on community formation and development. She and her husband write the invited blog, “Happily Even After” for the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops’ website, Noem received her MDiv from the University of Notre Dame in 2005. Raised on the Gulf Coast of Florida, she has been married since 1998 and has three beautiful children.

  • Heidi Schlumpf
    Breakout Session Presenter

    Heidi Schlumpf is national correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter. She has three decades of experience covering religion, spirituality, social justice, and women’s issues, and is the author of two books, including a biography of feminist theologian Elizabeth Johnson, and is the editor of the Notre Dame Book of Prayer. Schlumpf has a BA in American studies from the University of Notre Dame and an MTS from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary at Northwestern University. She and her family are members of St. Gertrude Parish in Chicago.

  • Estela Villagrán Manancero
    Breakout Session Presenter

    As Director of Latino Ministry for the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Estela applies her background in business administration, pastoral theology, and community organizing to develop and mentor Latin@ leaders for Church and society. Her missionary experiences in Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, Egypt, China, Burkina Faso, and Ghana have prepared her for a career dedicated to improving the lives of the under-represented. She serves locally on the Civil Rights Advisory Group for the FBI, on the board of Raíces Sagradas and Hennepin Health. Nationally, she serves as the President of the Association of Diocesan Directors of Hispanic Ministry, is on the board of Center for Migration Studies, and is an advisor for the Justice, Peace and Human Development office of the USCCB. She recently served as a consultant for Bishops Hispanic Affairs subcommittee and was the Co-chair of the National Process Team for V Encuentro. Estela received the Bishop John R. Roach award in 2006 from the Archdiocesan Commission on Women for promoting the participation of Latina women in leadership in the Church. In 2017, Catholic Relief Services’ awarded their inaugural Hispanic Heritage award to Estela for her support and promotion of their resources, programs, and global mission.

  • Kerry Weber
    Breakout Session Presenter

    Kerry Weber is an executive editor of America Magazine where she has worked since 2009. She is the author of Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and Keep Your Day Job (Loyola Press), which received a 2014 Christopher award, as well as awards from the Catholic Press Association and the Association of Catholic Publishers. She has also served as a co-host of “America This Week,” a weekly radio program on SiriusXM 129, The Catholic Channel. Her writing and multimedia work have earned several awards from the Catholic Press Association, and in 2013 she reported from Rwanda as a recipient of Catholic Relief Services’ Egan Journalism Fellowship recognizing excellence in the Catholic media. Weber is a graduate of Providence College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. From 2004-2005 she volunteered through the Mercy Volunteer Corps as a special-education teacher on the Navajo reservation in St. Michaels, Arizona. She has been a Mercy Associate since 2012. She is a past board member of the Catholic Press Association and a current board member of the Ignatian Solidarity Network.

  • C. Vanessa White
    Breakout Session Presenter

    Dr. C. Vanessa White is Assistant Professor of Spirituality and Ministry at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Spirituality at Xavier University’s Institute for Black Catholic Studies in New Orleans. She is co-editor of the book (with Dr. Cecilia Moore and Father Paul Marshall, SM), Songs of the Heart and Meditations of the Soul – a book of prayers published by St. Anthony Messenger Press and contributing author for Amoris Laetitia: A New Momentum for Moral and Pastoral Formation (Paulist Press, 2018). She has published articles and essays in the National Religious Vocation Conference JournalHorizons: Journal for the College Theology Society, New Theology Review, Daily Theology, The Bible Today, and U.S. Catholic Magazine and America Magazine. She is also a regular contributor to Give Us This Day, published by Liturgical Press as well as an inaugural contributor to the web-based Catholic Women Preach series. She is Past Convener of the Black Catholic Theological Symposium, an interdisciplinary theological association of Black Catholic theologians and scholars and a member of the Board of Directors of the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality. Her research, writing, and teaching focus on issues of Christian spirituality, spiritual formation, discernment, women’s spirituality, health, intercultural dialogue, leadership development, spiritual and ministry formation, lay ministry, and adult faith formation.


  • Friday, October 18, 2019
    • 1-5 p.mRegistrationStudent Center Atrium
    • 4 p.m.Opening Prayer ServiceChurch of Our Lady of Loretto
    • 5 p.m.DinnerNoble Family Dining Hall, Student Center
    • 1-7 p.m.Vendors OpenRice Commons, Student Center
    • 7-8:15 p.m.Keynote: Joan RosenhauerO’Laughlin Auditorium
    • 8:15-9:15 p.m.ReceptionO’Laughlin Lobby
  • Saturday, October 19, 2019
    • 8:15 a.m.Continental BreakfastMadeleva Hall Lobby
    • 8:45-10 a.m.Breakout Sessions #1Madeleva Hall Classrooms
    • 10-10:30 a.m.Break and SnackMadeleva Hall Lobby
    • 10:30-11:45 a.m.Keynote: Cecilia Gonzalez-AndrieuCarroll Auditorium, Madeleva Hall
    • 12-2: p.m.Lunch Noble Family Dining Hall, Student Center
    • 12-2:30 p.m.Vendors openRice Commons, Student Center
    • 2:30-4 p.m.Panel: Kim Daniels and Zuzanna FlisowskaCarroll Auditorium, Madeleva Hall
    • 5 p.m.Saturday Vigil / Eucharistic Liturgy, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, Presiding Church of Our Lady of Loretto
    • 6:15 p.m.Saturday Evening Banquet with concert, “Women of Faith, Women of Freedom,” by Kim HarrisNoble Family Dining Hall, Student Center
    • 7:30-9 p.m.Vendors openRice Commons, Student Center
  • Sunday, October 20, 2019
    • 8:15 a.m.Continental BreakfastMadeleva Hall Lobby
    • 8:45-10 a.m.Breakout Sessions #2Madeleva Hall Classrooms
    • 10-10:30 a.m.Break and SnackMadeleva Hall Lobby
    • 10:30-11:45 a.m.Keynote: Kerry RobinsonCarroll Auditorium, Madeleva Hall
    • 11:45 a.m.- 12 p.m.Closing and sendingCarroll Auditorium, Madeleva Hall


  • Friday at the exhibit hall L-R: Beth Knobbe, Vanessa White, Heidi Schlumpf
  • Inaugural Women of the Church Committee prior to Opening Prayer Service L-R: Janet Millen, Kimberly Baker, Rachel Forbes Kaufman, Paul and Agnes Kovacs
  • Judy Fean Opening Liturgy
  • Beautiful ceiling of Church of Our Lady of Loretto
  • Sr. Sharlet Ann Wagner, CSC, preaching at the opening liturgy
  • Agnes Kovacs speaks with Judy Fean
  • Visiting before Friday keynote
  • Arlene Montevecchio, 2019 conference chair, visiting with Joan Rosenhauer, the kickoff keynote speaker
  • Opening Keynote Joan Rosenhauer speaking on "Challenges and Opportunities: The Role of Women Leaders in the Church and Beyond"
  • Listening to keynote, Joan Rosenhauer
  • Question and Answers after Joan Rosenhauer's talk
  • Friday evening reception
  • Friday evening reception
  • Saturday morning continental breakfast before start of the day
  • Saturday morning breakout session with Sr. Donna L. Ciangio, OP, "Women in Church Leadership"
  • Conversation during break
  • Mid-morning keynote speaker Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu: "#MineToo: Why Robust Women's Voices are Indispensable to the Church"
  • Question being asked of Cecilia Gonzalez-Andrieu
  • Sr. Maria Cimperman, RSCJ, keeps the conversation going
  • Vanessa White offers her insights
  • Visiting after Cecilia's keynote
  • Afternoon panel with Zuzanna Flisowska (center) and Kim Daniels (right) moderated by Arlene Montevecchio (left): "Promoting Women in Church Leadership Positions"
  • Saturday evening banquet
  • Guests arriving for banquet
  • Inaugural Committee Members Agnes and Paul Kovacs
  • Participants enjoying dinner conversation
  • Conversation over dinner before concert
  • Concert with Kim Harris, "Women of Faith, Women of Freedom"
  • Inaugural Conference Committee table in Rice Commons
  • Saint Mary's students enjoying the conference
  • Sr. Maria Cimperman, RSCJ, during the morning breakout session, "Transformative Practices and Growing Edges for the Church: Contributions from Women Religious"
  • Rachel Espinoza leads a workshop: "Their Message Goes Out Through All the Earth: The Witness and Work of Women Evangelists in the Church Yesterday and Today"
  • Conversation between sessions
  • Emily Sipos-Butler introducing Kerry Robinson
  • Sendoff Keynote by Kerry Robinson: "Women, Leadership, Decision-Making, and the Church"