Women’s Emerging Voices

*** Suggested Reflection: Read “Les femmes diacres catholiques: un état de la question” ISTINA, LXVII (2022) 289-308. Translated: “Catholic Women Deacons: The State of the Question Part I: Learning from Scripture and History”   Doctrine & Life 72:9 (November 2022) 2-12 and “Catholic Women Deacons: The State of the Question Part II: Contemporary Analysis” Doctrine & Life 72:10 (December 2022) 35-50.  ***

The Women’s Initiative is dedicated to the proposition that all baptized Catholics—women and men—have equal access to all positions within the Church and have a voice in all decision-making processes. Learn more by reading the white paper developed by a collaborative working group that included members from the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP), lay religious, and representatives from VOTF and FutureChurch.

VOTF encourages conversation on all ministries and opportunities for women, and a primary focus is the restoration of the ordained female diaconate. In addition, the Women’s Emerging Voices Working Group pursues inclusive, collaborative efforts through its advocacy network.

As Voice of the Faithful commemorates its 20th year of raising lay voices during 2022, we salute women whose voices were emerging 20 years ago when VOTF was getting started. These “Church ladies” became part of an organization giving women power and a voice in the Catholic Church. Serving the fledgling VOTF are, left to right, Ann Carroll, then vice president, Mary Ann Keyes, then chair of Parish Voice, and Maura O’Brien, then council moderator.

What You Can Do

1. Write a letter to your bishop calling for ordained women deacons.

You can find your bishop’s address on the list USCCB maintains.

2. Distribute cards summarizing the evidence and the need for women deacons.

Each card has two paragraphs (one front and one back) summarizing the case for women deacons. They are designed to print out (on paper or card stock) on your home computer or via a copy service. Just click the link for the language needed (below), then save the PDF file to your computer. Print the file using your printer’s double-sided function (be sure to choose “flip on long side” in the options). The two-sided page then can be cut into six separate cards (or papers) for you to hand out.

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3. Conduct DeaconChat projects in your faith communities.

In conjunction with FutureChurch and the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, VOTF participates in DeaconChat, an initiative aimed at fostering education and conversations about women deacons. The program includes three elements:

  • Learn about women deacons.
  • Share what you learn with others–both lay and clergy.
  • Connect with others for conversations about restoring this Church ministry for women.

While on the DeaconChat page, be sure to check out the resources available for download. We are grateful to FutureChurch for preparing the web pages and sharing their documents so that we all can participate in this vital conversation.

VOTF and FutureChurch also have issued a call for U.S. bishops to publicly support the restoration of the female diaconate.

For a broader look at the issues and resources on women deacons, also check out the Catholic Women Deacons website.

More Action!

Active Discernment of Ordained Women’s Diaconate

Read Women Deacons: Past, Present, and Future by Gary Macy, William T. Ditewig, and Phyllis Zagano, then host sessions using the Study Guide prepared to accompany the book.

Also by Dr. Phyllis Zagano, the book Women: Icons of Christ, a history of women’s ministry in the Church. It is available as an e-book and in paper from Paulist Press and on Amazon. The discussion Study Guide is available for free download on the Hofstra website by clicking here.


What Do We Know About Women Deacons? By Phyllis Zagano and Bernard Pottier, MST Review, Vol. 24, No. 2 (2022)

Are We Protagonists Yet? By Susan Bigelow Reynolds in Commonweal magazine, with link to free discussion guide

Called to Contribute: Findings from an In-depth Interview Study of US Catholic Women and the Diaconate, By Tricia Bruce, Ph.D., with Cella Masso-Rivetti and Jenniver Sherman (Bruce is the author of Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful Is Changing the Church.)

Declaration on Status of Women in the Church — developed by a collaborative working group that included members from the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP), lay religious, and representatives from VOTF and FutureChurch

DeaconChat Campaign — collaborative effort with AUSCP and FutureChurch

Women Deacons: How Long? — paper on restoring the female diaconate to the Church (15 pages)

Suggested Readings: Women in the Church — additional resources and information on women’s roles (9 pages)


Called to Serve: Two Women’s Witness (a YouTube video posted by “Discerning Deacons”)

Current Debate on Women Deacons and the Papal Commission(link is external)

Salt & Light Media “Witness” Interview(link is external)

Salt & Light Media “Women Deacons”(link is external)

Global Perspectives “Questions for the Modern World: Women Deacons”(link is external)

Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future | Conversations with America(link is external)

Santa Clara University Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministry: Women Deacons(link is external)

Los Angeles Religious Education Workshop Women Deacons — Who Were They? What Did They Do?(link is external)