From the Pews in the Back

Young Women and Catholicism
Edited by Kate Dugan and Jennifer Owens; Foreword by Mary Ann Hinsdale; Afterword by Donna Freitas

ISBN: 9780814632581, 3258
Details: 256 pgs, 5 3/8 x 8 1/4
Publication Date: 07/01/2009


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From the Pews in the Back is a book filled with questions about Catholic identity. How do young Catholic women see or define themselves? What is their relationship to the church? What are their struggles and joys? In a church that often consigns them to the pews in the back, what place are young women claiming? This collection of twenty-nine essays approaches these questions from a multitude of angles. These brief memoirs, together with the insights of editors Kate Dugan and Jennifer Owens, offer a glimpse into what it means to be young, Catholic, and female in today's church. These women wrestle with the Catholic faith and with the church. They ask hard questions of the institution and are not willing to take easy answers.

From the Pews in the Back is a new chapter in the dialogue about the role of women in the church. The voices of these women range from inspiring and energetic to challenging and wounded. Ultimately, though, these women are stubbornly hopeful. They are claiming a place in the church and are calling other Catholics to talk with them about this claim.

Kate Dugan was baptized, made First Reconciliation, received First Communion, was confirmed, and married in Immaculate Conception Parish in Watertown, South Dakota. She graduated from the College of St. Benedict and received her Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School. This fall, she will begin a PhD program in religion at Northwestern University.

Jennifer Owens has spent most of her academic life and all of her teaching career in Catholic schools in Southern California. She earned her bachelor's degree in sociology and a master's degree in teaching from Loyola Marymount University. Jennifer recently completed her Master of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School and will begin doctoral studies in systematic and philosophical theology at the Graduate Theological Union this fall.

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This fine book opens the door for other voices to be heard and may be used effectively as a platform from which to begin much needed inter-generational conversations among Catholics in many places.

Dugan and Owens offer a contemporary Catholic apologetics in this collection of twenty-nine autobiographical essays that fervently refute the claim that young Catholic women tentatively, apathetically or impatiently dwell on the fringes of faith. On the contrary, a variety of women born in the 1970s and 1980s - single or married, lay and religious, student and professional, straight and gay, cradle and convert, white and of color reveal a resiliently passionate faith. . . .
American Catholic Studies

In a church that does not always listen to the voices of women, it is critical that we have pages in which to share our stories and gain strength from one another's journeys. It is in the sharing of stories that hearts are changed and transformation begins. Read these stories, be inspired to share your story and, together, we'll move the church one step closer to justice!
Nicole Sotelo, Author of Women Healing from Abuse: Meditations for Finding Peace (Paulist Press)

All students and teachers of theology will benefit from this timely volume, its website and its blog, as we engage in ever increasing circles of dialogue about Catholic identity, tradition, and a life-giving future for all in the pews.

This volume promises to provoke intergenerational conversations among Roman Catholic feminists and womanists regarding women's alternative ways of being Catholic in transitional times, or on the threshold of reinventing longstanding definitions of Catholic identity in embodied, sociopolitical, and eschatological ways.
Theological Studies

Their collective voice presents a new facet in the dialogue about the role of women in the Church.

From the Pews in the Back would serve well for those looking to explore works in narrative theology, people who may find themselves struggling with their own Catholic faith, and also for those who struggle with other Catholics whose views they may glibly label as "disloyal" or "unorthodox" without ever considering their experience. Dugan and Owen's initial work in narrative theology challenges the reader to explore their own personal story of faith. The stories push the reader to engage in deeper theological reflection, further exploration of Catholic teaching and tradition, and a more experiential way of talking about Catholic identity.
Catholic Studies

More testimony and crie de coeur than complaint, Kate Dugan's and Jen Owens's eloquent, often poetic collection of memoirs from young Catholic women is deeply rooted in their Catholic identity. These young women are willing to raise difficult questions, but always with an appreciation of a church that for all its failings has nourished their faith and remains for them a home. They represent a significant part of the Catholic community; their story deserves a hearing.
Thomas P. Rausch, SJ, T. Marie Chilton Professor of Catholic Theology, Loyola Marymount University, Author of Being Catholic in a Culture of Choice (Liturgical Press)