New Report on Catholic Women and the Diaconate

I’m thrilled to share a new report summarizing findings from an in-depth interview study I conducted on Catholic women and the diaconate: Called to Contribute.

Together with my research team (Cella Masso-Rivetti of New York University and Jennifer Sherman of Georgetown University), we found that Catholic women feel called into service, constrained by barriers to ordination and service reserved for men in the Church, must adapt creatively to do “de facto deacon” ministry anyway, and contribute in ways that uphold the very foundations of the local and global Catholicism.

Read the executive summary in English or Spanish and download the full report here.

Responses to the report:

“This study provides an excellent insight into the plight of Catholic women already serving in diaconal ministries across the country and around the world. That so many women find themselves called and accepted by their local communities as “quasi-deacons” is a clear sign of the ways the Church is growing to recognize women as truly representing Christ in the world.”

Phyllis Zagano, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY, author of Women: Icons of Christ (Paulist, 2020)

“This report on extensive interviews with US Catholic women both acknowledges the fact of how many women are and have long been engaged in the work of diakonia but have been constrained by their exclusion from ordination to the diaconate. These women talk about discernment and their own creativity in the service of the Church. Reading this report will broaden your understanding about the sense of call that is experienced and counter any notions that a desire for ordination is a form of clericalism.”

Bishop John Stowe, OFM, Conv., Diocese of Lexington, KY

“I read this report with tears and rapt attention: to put a structure and language on the real lived experience of women in ministry. This report is a gift. For me, for our sisters in ministry, for our Church.”

Bridget Deegan-Krause, Board Certified Chaplain, Mission and Formation consultant, Catholic Health Care and member of the National Association of Catholic Chaplains

To join broader conversations regarding the possibility of women deacons in the Catholic Church, check out the rapidly growing movement, Discerning Deacons.