Archdiocese of Chicago

Archdiocesan Women's Committee
Department of Parish Life and Formation

Current chair: Anne Marie Finger

Vice chair: Maria Rocha

Staff to AWC: Robert Bennett

The Chicago Archdiocesan Women’s Committee (AWC) is a consultative body to the Archbishop on women’s issues. It is separate from the Archdiocesan Council for Catholic Women, which draws many of its members from parish women’s groups.

The Women’s Committee initially was established as a Commission by the Archbishop in 1992 and was renewed as an adjunct committee of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council of the Church in Chicago in 1998. Its members represent the wide diversity of women in the Chicago Archdiocese. They use their gifts together to develop a wisdom community that counsels the Archbishop. Empowered by the message of the Gospel and the teachings of the Church, and in collaboration with the People of God, the Committee works to make visible the equality and dignity of all people and assists the Archdiocese as a whole as it responds to the needs of women in the light of the Catholic faith.

On Jan. 8, 2000, the Archdiocesan Women’s Committee was commissioned as an adjunct committee of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council. Cardinal George, perceiving a need for a women’s group to advise and counsel him on how the Church might engage women’s concerns from the pulpit or in other meaningful ways, had started the process of forming the AWC nearly two years earlier.

The AWC is composed of three women from each of the archdiocese’s six vicariates who are chosen to serve three-year terms. As mentioned above, members must be nominated to the committee by their Bishop, so that each vicariate is represented. A wide range of ages, talents and cultures are represented on the Committee.

The AWC has established two working subcommittees, Women in Church and Women in Society, and each member belongs to one of those two subcommittees.

The mission statement of the AWC begins with a portion of Pope John Paul II’s Angelus message that “we are, unfortunately, heirs to a history of enormous conditionings, which have made the path of women very difficult … (and) which in so many parts of the world impeded women from fully being inserted into social, political and economic life.” This is followed by a commitment of the members to use their individual gifts with those of their fellow committee members to develop a wisdom community that will counsel the Cardinal.

Over the years, Women and Church has tried to address such questions as “Hearing Women’s Voices in the Church: When, Where and How,” how the archdiocese can provide formation for women as “carriers of the faith,” how women share their spirituality in the workplace, and how the Archdiocese can better reach out to women to promote healing through Reconciliation and Eucharist. This subcommittee also recently produced a calendar to help families enrich their spiritual lives with various home activities.

Women in Society has tackled such questions as “How can women be voices of peace in our homes, in our cities, in our country and in the world?” “How can the Archdiocese use education as a tool to increase awareness of and alleviate domestic violence against women?” and “What can the women of the Archdiocese of Chicago do to combat human trafficking?”

From time to time AWC members also participate in ad hoc committees to address specific issues. Past committees have formed to address post-partum depression, infertility and domestic violence.

The AWC has published a booklet of prayers, poems and thoughts on peace that were gathered from a diverse group of women in the area, and was the culmination of the Mother’s Day Peace Project. Copies of “Voices for Peace” are available from the Department of Parish Life & Formation for $2 each.


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