Women's Organizations in the Roman Catholic Church

Women can serve the Catholic Church through a variety of organizations.
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While women are exempt from the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church, they play a vital role within the church. There are women’s organizations, from global to local, which allow women to serve others, work for the needs of their respective congregations and act as Catholic evangelists.

1 Global Organizations

The Opus Dei is an organization for clerics and lay people of the Roman Catholic faith. Members of this group work toward personal perfection as Christians and to incorporate these values into their business and their daily lives. The Opus Dei has separate branches for women and men. Founded by Saint Josemaria Escriva, the mission of the Opus Dei is for every event in life to be an occasion to become closer to God. Opus Dei has membership groups in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.

Women who wish to become part of a Roman Catholic Women’s Organization can join the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations as an affiliate member. The group is geared toward memberships from both individual women and also Catholic women’s groups. The group has over 5 million Catholic women as members and their mission is to evangelize and to work for human development worldwide.

2 National Organizations

Founded in 1956, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is a national organization of women leaders from various congregations around the US. The LCWR members work to help women learn how to evangelize and also to form groups at various parishes to work toward social change. The group provides resources to Catholic women leaders such as leadership manuals and retreats. The members of the group collaborate with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate to ensure member congregations have adequate measures in place to prevent sexual abuse incidents from occurring in the parishes.

3 Local Organizations

The Catholic Daughters of the Americas has approximately 1,250 local chapters and a membership base of over 75,000 women. Founded more than 100 years ago, the Catholic Daughters of the Americas work to address current issues of the church as well as concerns and needs of women. The group contains a legislative program to help women contact their local politicians with concerns and to learn about governing laws that affect them. Campus groups are available for young women and a junior league is available to girls between the ages of 6-18.

4 Parish Organizations

Many Catholic Parishes have specific women’s organizations that work to help the poor, visit the sick in hospitals and nursing homes, and raise money for their respective parish and their Catholic schools. These women’s organizations form prayer groups, host both local and out-of-town trips, study scripture and explore spirituality.

Based in Richmond, Va., Susan Ayers is a senior learning associate for a financial organization. She previously developed web-based training for Circuit City and spent a number of years creating eLearning courses for a not-for-profit law enforcement organization. Ayers graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Virginia Commonwealth University and holds a master's in education from St. Joseph's College.