Catholic Church

Empowerment of women in the Catholic Church : An experimental study in group process

Marie Olwell
The Catholic Church limits the participation of women both in its decision-making process and liturgical worship. This research explores how women in the Roman Catholic Church may be enabled to change their understanding and attitudes to claim a unique form of power within the Church's structure through education, discussion and small group interaction.

The method followed in this research took the design of a seminar. The methodology used involved a series of seven two-hour seminar sessions. Each seminar included education on topics related to women's issues in the Church: Women's culture and Spiritual Origins, Scripture and Spirituality, Power, Patriarchy and Sexism and Family of Origin. The format of the sessions included input, discussion, sharing,journaling, experiential activity and ritual. Reading assignments were taken from updated materials written by women researchers, theologians and scripture scholars. Eleven women from the ages of 32 to 65 from a white suburban local Catholic Church participated in the project. Their marital status, education, theology background and family of origin varied. At the initial session, each participant filled out three formulated questionnaires related to (a) Women's status within the Church, (b) self-esteem and (c) feelings regarding power. All these questionnaires were re-administered at the end of the course to evaluate whether any major changes took place. The most powerful instrument for women in this study occurred in the more intimate form of a personal interview where the opportunity of an in-depth sixty to ninety minute conversation with each participant took place three months following the seminar's termination. These interviews focused on seven questions relative to the seminar's objectives: (1) To what extent did the participants exhibit a heightened awareness and enthusiasm? (2) How have the participants' views of empowerment been affected by the seminar? (3) How has the group contributed to the overall process of the seminar?

The stained glass ceiling : the development of women pastoral associates in the Archdiocese of Baltimore

Kathleen O'Donnell Tallent
The purpose and goals of this project are to describe the ways that women pastoral associates exercise their ministry through an indepth study of their experiences in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. This prominent diocese offers a unique base for the study of this significant position for women that has emerged in the Post-Vatican II Church. The project examines the well-being and morale of women pastoral associates, compares their progress from 1980-1991, and investigates their perception of the support they receive.

The methodology comprises: personal background and historical leadership role of Maryland: a theological foundation for women in ministry from the perspective of systemic grieving and transformation; an overview of the development of the ministry in the Baltimore diocese; a twofold appraisal of pastoral associates comparing the 1980 Simmons' survey and an updated 1991 questionnaire with corollary assessments and interviews with bishops, pastors, parishioners, and diocesan personnel.

The group surveyed were active members of the Pastoral Associates Association whose background, until recently, has been predominantly women religious. Survey results point toward changes in duties and responsibilities from earlier experiences of direct involvement in visiting parishioners to training parish ministers and more programmatic and pastoral leadership activities. Acceptance from parish and community groups have steadily increased while there have been varying degrees of support from bishops in the diocese. The work is viewed as satisfying and as an opportunity to use abilities creatively in a responsible position; yet, conversely, there is recognition of the position's flat career path. Although pastoral associates see their ministry from the perspective of Church as Servant, nevertheless, they desire equal partnership in ministry and a model of Church as Community of Disciples. They express interest and need for continuing education in collaboration with pastoral colleagues.

Catholic evangelization in mission communities in rural Appalachia : Reflections on personal and Glenmary experiences

Robert J Hoffman
The primary purpose of this project was to investigate the Catholic perspective on evangelization and to see how these principles can be applied to the rural mission areas of Appalachia. The report begins with an historical perspective of evangelization followed by a Catholic and Protestant perspective and the difference between these views. Glenmary's fifty-two years experience and contribution to evangelization are reviewed. Three case studies of rural missionology show the diverse approaches of Catholic evangelization in Appalachia. The Virginia study is a Base Christian Community model. The Kentucky study is a Parish Team model, and the Tennessee model demonstrates a Community Development approach. The last chapter covers general reflections on evangelization and some recommendations for new ministers coming to Appalachia. For over fifty years, the Glenmary Society has challenged its members to evangelize the rural Appalachian population of over twenty million people. At present, over one hundred professed Glenmary members minister to 1.25 million people in thirty-five base parishes and thirty-seven mission stations. Some outsiders look up to Glenmary as "experts" in this ministry. They think we have the experience, knowledge, and success stories to teach others how to be successful missioners in Appalachia and the Deep South. But, the truth is that we are still groping for answers. The major findings were that Appalachia is a difficult place to do Catholic evangelization because of its unique cultural heritage, religious tradition, and depressing poverty. The area is highly unchurched. Glenmary mission parishes average about one-half of one percent (0.5%). Sometimes there is prejudice against the Catholic Church because its tradition differs greatly from the predominate Protestant churches in the area.

Preaching Missionary Discipleship: A Homiletic Response to Declining Participation at Risen Christ Catholic Parish in Denver and the Catholic Church of the United States of America

Eric David Zegeer D.Min.
This thesis proposes an acronym consisting of seven essential characteristics for the exercise of preaching in the Sunday Eucharistic liturgy that considers the statistical data of the decline of Catholic Sunday participation in the United States while being informed by the theology of missionary discipleship in Catholic teaching.
Chapter 1 provides an introduction that contrasts the actual decline of American Catholics in the participation of the Sunday liturgy with the Church’s teaching on missionary discipleship.
Chapter 2 provides a comprehensive explanation of the Catholic Church’s teachings on the vocation to a life of missionary discipleship of every baptized Catholic in the context of stages or steps of spiritual growth that lead to a fully lived baptismal calling.
Chapter 3 looks at the statistical data of Catholic participation available since the scandals of child sex abuse came to light around 2002. It considers the impact it has had on the Catholic Church in the United States as a whole as well as some specific generations.
Chapter 4 offers an in-depth explanation of the acronym “BREATHE” and how each characteristic of that acronym should inform our preaching. It also loosely corresponds each letter to the seven different stages of growth toward missionary discipleship.
Chapter 5 and its subsequent appendices provide the statistical data of one Catholic parish where the acronym was implemented in a five-week preaching exercise to reach the most Catholics possible in that one setting. It then considers the response and how that aligns with the statistical data found in chapter three.
Chapter 6 offers conclusions to the thesis overall and a recommendation of how to move forward while acknowledging the limitations of this one exercise and the importance of an overall plan to form and send the average parishioner into the world to bring more souls to Christ.


Dieu Tran D.Min.
Peter Dieu Tran, M.A., D.Min. Aquinas Institute of Theology, Saint Louis, Missouri, 2021.

This doctor of ministry thesis is an attempt to contribute to the preaching mission in Vietnam. Dealing with the problem that many Vietnamese preachers face (Chapter I), this project proposes that preachers use proverbs and folk poetry in their preaching. Before trying to put this preaching method into practice, this thesis looks at the theological framework (Chapter II), the homiletical foundation (Chapter III), and a brief study of Vietnamese proverbs and folk poetry (Chapter IV). Chapter V details the ministerial intervention of this project and the interpretation of its outcomes. Chapter VI reviews the overall project and the next steps for my research.

Preaching the Gospel with their Lives: A Call and Responsibility of Catholic Married Couples

Karen Eileen Seaborn D.Min.
Vatican Council II expands the theology of marriage beyond that of procreation and education of children to include bearing witness to Christ in the world. In professing and living their marriage vows, Christian married couples proclaim Christ’s love in word and action—for each other and the church and the world. This study provides the theological foundation for marriage as one of the seven ritualized sacraments in the Catholic Church. It draws on the Christ/church/sacrament model espoused by Vatican II theologians showing Christian husbands and wives to be the efficacious word of God spoken to each other and the church and world. It explores the church's evolving theology of marriage by surveying civil and liturgical rites of marriage from the church’s beginning to present time.
This thesis connects the married couple’s call to bear witness with the church’s preaching mission by attending to Scripture, church teaching, and preachers to show that husbands and wives who faithfully live their marriage vows through the entirety of their lives together, preach the kingdom of God in word and action from the pulpit of their everyday lives. It gathers wisdom from the discipline of marriage and family counseling, attends to practices that assist married couples to be more efficacious preachers of Christ’s love and notes destructive communication patterns that cause them to be countersign of Christ’s love. A description of the ministerial intervention is provided: a day of reflection, formation, and conversation for newly married couples based on the Rite of Marriage. It includes a compilation and analysis of data from three participant questionnaires: pre-workshop, end-of-workshop-day, and thirty days later. The thesis concludes by establishing why this study matters to the church and offers possible next steps for the future of this study.

Preaching the Gospel Anew: Forming Redemptorist Students for the Ministry of Prophetic Preaching

Peter Davidson Hill D.Min.
Prophetic preaching is essential to the life of the Church and in the life of the Redemptorists, who are called to preach the Good News to the abandoned, especially the poor. It is established that prophetic preaching is challenging and many preachers are hesitant to preach a prophetic message. This thesis examines the history of prophetic preaching, with particular attention to the Old Testament prophets and the work of Frank Thomas. In conversations with Redemptorist preachers and leaders, this thesis proposes effective ways through which Redemptorist students can be formed for the mission as prophetic preachers of the Good News to the abandoned, especially the poor. Through questionnaires and sample homilies by twelve Redemptorists, I have concluded that Redemptorists do preach prophetically and that the practice of training men to preach prophetically must be part of the formal training. To this end, a course in prophetic preaching is to be developed for the training of Redemptorist seminarians for the ministry of prophetic preaching.

Developing Better Interreligious Dialogue and Collaboration with Korean Muslims: An Exploration in Focolare Spirituality

Mi Sook Han D.Min.
This thesis-project focuses on fostering interreligious dialogue between the Korean Conference of Religions for Peace (KCRP), the most active interreligious dialogue organization in Korea, and Korean Muslim leaders who asked KCRP’s leadership to include Korean Islam as a member. This issue is still pending. The project seeks to develop interreligious dialogue between these two groups through an exploration in Focolare Spirituality, a spirituality of unity. Focolare Spirituality aims to promote universal fraternity and to achieve a more united world in which people respect and value diversity.
The project deals with four dialogues: dialogue with religious leaders who are related to this issue, Catholic Church’s teachings on interreligious dialogue, dialogue between religion and culture in Korean context, and dialogue with the Focolare spirituality in order to achieve the goal of mutual understanding and collaboration with Korean Muslims. This project concludes by offering a method from a spiritual perspective for a fruitful interfaith dialogue.

Towards a Holistic Education: Forging Integrative Approaches between Campus Ministers and Theology Faculty at Catholic Universities

Rachelle M. Kramer D.Min.
This thesis-project explores to what extent a synergy could be created between campus ministers and theology professors at U.S. Catholic colleges and universities that might contribute to a more holistic development (spiritual, moral, intellectual) of their students. The project overall seeks to learn how a holistic education can best be understood in Catholic higher education today as well as the factors that foster and hinder it. The experience of campus ministers and theology faculty, emerging adult theory, the Catholic Tradition, and integrative learning theory serve as dialogue partners in order to unearth new insights and concrete actions for the future.


Gregg Michael Caggianelli D.Min.
Can the integration of leading elements in the four dimensions of priestly formation contribute to the formation of good preachers? Building on the premise that a good preacher is one who is not only competent in the skills needed for good preaching, but is also a person who authentically lives in a way that gives witness to the Gospel preached, the author searches for how these preachers can be formed for our age.

Chapter One explores the intrinsic connection between God’s Word and God’s deeds as the pattern for authentic preaching. The investigation asks whether good seminary formation contributes to the formation of good preachers.

Chapter Two highlights the vision of St. Dominic and introduces the idea of the preacher’s formation using the work of Humbert of Romans. Noting similar patterns in St. Charles Borromeo and St. Vincent de Paul, this chapter leads into the reforms called for from Vatican II until the present. The Church’s formation documents become the foundation for generating an extensive list of specific formation elements identified for development in a candidate during seminary formation.

Chapter Three builds various assessments tools used in the pastoral appropriation, seeking to identify and highlight important formation elements from the four dimensions of priestly formation that contribute to the formation of good preachers.

Chapter Four extensively explores the qualitative and quantitative results, highlighting the significant correlation between the integration of leading elements of priestly formation and improved preaching quality.

Chapter Five suggests five ways for sharing this project’s findings, hoping that this thesis will allow seminary formators to accompany developing preachers in their understanding of how personal reflection across all four dimensions of their seminary formation contributes to their development as preachers able to not only preach well but live as witnesses to the Gospel.
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