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

Full Title
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?
Degree Granting Institution
United States
Degree Granted
Doctor of Ministry
Type of Work
D.Min. Project
Number of Pages
Copyright Statement
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