Women's Commission holds survey on women's participation in ministries
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' pastoral letter, From Words to Deeds, called for women's full participation in all aspects of Church life presently open to them, including leadership positions.
How has the Diocese of Sioux City responded to this call? The Diocesan Commission on Women in Church and Society undertook a survey earlier this year to ascertain the level of women's participation in parish and diocesan ministries, organizations, and offices.
The survey forms were sent to every parish in the diocese. They requested information on six broad areas of parish life which includes 38 specific categories of service. Fifty parishes, about 40 percent, responded.
Summary of findings from parishes reporting:
•Women made up a majority of the parish members.
•A majority of the persons serving in five of the six categories in the education area: adult enrichment leaders, school administrators, CCD/DRE coordinators, CCD teachers, and family life administrators, were women. In one category, vocation contacts, 50 percent of the persons serving were women.
•A majority of the persons serving in six of the seven categories in the liturgical ministries area: musicians, Eucharistic ministers, lectors, greeters, gift bearers, and liturgy planners, were women. In the altar server category, the majority of those serving were males.
•A majority of the persons serving in 10 of the 11 categories in the social ministries area: youth, elder, sick/shut-in, separated/divorced,widowed, single, minorities, poor, pro-life, and social justice, were women. In the category, ecumenical ministries, a majority of those serving were males.
•A majority of the persons serving in three of the six categories in the buildings and grounds area: care of the sacristy, church cleaning,and decoration, were women. In three categories: grounds keeping, repair and maintenance, and cemetery board, a majority of those serving were men.
•A majority of the persons serving in six of the eight categories in the administrative area: administrators, trustee, parish council, finance/budget committee, fund raising and annual appeal, were men. In the categories: parish school board and clerical/secretarial, a majority of those serving were women.
•Overall, 169 women were reported in leadership positions in 35 of the 38 categories of service surveyed. No women were reported in leadership positions in the categories: administrator (administration area), repair and maintenance and cemetery board (building and grounds area).
According to Marilyn Murphy, social concerns facilitator for the diocese and a member the Commission on Women, in a 1994 statement titled, Strengthening the Bonds of Peace, the bishops welcomed leadership of women and committed themselves to enhancing this.
"In many ways, this leadership is already a reality in our parishes and diocesan offices," said Murphy. "I suppose there are always challenges that lie ahead - how to open up new roles to women, especially in decision making; and how to reach out to young women, affirming their gifts and inviting them to deeper involvement in the church as well as enabling them to assume service and leadership roles."
She pointed out that the Commission on Women will explore ways of accomplishing these goals.
Summary of findings regarding diocesan offices, boards and commissions *
*Information drawn from 2004-05 Diocese of Sioux City Directory • Representation on diocesan boards and commissions:
Catholic School Foundation - 10 men and 4 women; Commission on Women - all women; Council of Catholic Women - all women; Diocesan Consultors - clergy; Diocesan Pastoral Council - 12 men and 8 women; Diocesan Corporate Board- 11 men and 1 woman; Diocesan Peace and Justice - 13 women and 4 men; Action Commission Liturgical Commission - 6 men and 5 women; Priests' Personnel Board - clergy; Presbyteral Council - clergy; and Priests' Pension Board - 11 men and 1 woman.
•Women held leadership positions on: Council of Catholic Women, Commission on Women in Church and Society, and Diocesan Peace and Justice Action Commission.
•Men held leadership positions on: Diocesan Corporate Board, Liturgical Commission, St. Joseph Education Society, Charismatic Renewal, Cursillo, Diocesan Boy and Girl Scout Directors, Diocesan Director for CYO.
•Chairperson not identified: Diocesan Consultors, Diocesan Pastoral Council, Priests' Personnel Board, Presbyteral Council, Priests' Pension Board.
Anyone who wishes a copy of the complete survey report may contact Marilyn Murphy,
Catholic Charities, 1601 Military Road, Sioux City, IA 51103.