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
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.