2015 Catholic Women’s Symposium

The Catholic Women’s Forum, in collaboration with the Catholic Information Center of Washington, D.C, hosts an annual Catholic Women’s Symposium to engage topics responsive to the Church’s most pressing concerns, specifically those related to women and family.  The Symposium has an academic and scholarly focus, and takes place over two days of presentations and extended discussions. All Symposium participants are Catholic women, experts distinguished by their intellectual rigor, fidelity to the Church, and proven leadership abilities. Taken together, they reflect a range of disciplines, including theology, philosophy, law, economics, and pastoral ministry. Because of the nature of the Symposium, attendance is limited and by invitation only.

Evangelizing a Broken World:

Women’s Essential Work in the Mission of the Church


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Panel I: The Church: Embracing Women’s Gifts

  • Laura Garcia, Ph.D., “The Church—Championing Women’s Dignity, Welcoming Women’s Gifts”
  • Sr. Sara Butler, M.S.B.T., Ph.D., S.T.L., “The Problem of Clericalism and the Gift of the Laity”
  • Susan Selner-Wright, Ph.D., “Women and Priestly Formation”

Live Video Presentation from Rome

  • Jane Adolphe, LL.B, B.C.L., J.C.L, J.C.D., “Persecution of Christians: Breaking the Silence on Sexual Violence”

Panel II: A Broken World & The Challenge of Evangelism

  • Teresa Collett, J.D., “The Law is a Powerful Teacher, but Nature Even More So”
  • Margaret McCarthy, Ph.D., “Gender Ideology and the Humanum
  • Erika Bachiochi, J.D., “Complementarity:  Sexual Difference in Service of Human Dependency”

Panel III Women: Evangelizing Family and Culture

  • Sr. Elinor Gardner, O.P., Ph.D., “Consecrated Women and Evangelization”
  • Maggie Gallagher, “Marriage: A Case Study on the Challenge of Evangelism”
  • Theresa Farnan, Ph.D., “Ideological Colonization: Pastoral Implications for Women, the Family, and the Church”

Dinner Speaker

  • Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, Ph.D., “Women and the Maternal Church: Feeding a Spiritual Hunger”

Friday, April 17, 2015

Morning Speaker

  • Deborah Savage, Ph.D., “A Church for the Poor: Women and the Church’s Social Vision”

Panel IV: Women, Evangelism, and Accompaniment

  • Theresa Notare, Ph.D., “Accompanying Others Through the Work of the Institutional Church”
  • Eve Tushnet, “Accompanying the Marginalized: Thoughts on Friendship and Welcome”
  • Hilary Towers, Ph.D., “Reviving Marriage: Fostering Commitment in a Culture of the Temporary”

Catholic Women’s Leadership Luncheon

  • Helen Alvaré, J.D., “Women “As Others” and “For Others,” Serving the New Evangelization”



Mary Rice Hasson, J.D., Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center (DC)


Titles and affiliations listed are for identification purposes only, reflecting participants’ affiliations at the time of the event

Jane Adolphe, LL.B, B.C.L., J.C.L, J.C.D., Associate Professor of Law, Ave Maria Law School (Rome)

Maria Sophia Aguirre, Ph.D., Professor of Economics, Catholic University of America (DC)

Helen Alvaré, J.D., Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law (VA)

Erika Bachiochi, J.D., Legal Scholar and Editor, Women, Sex & the Church: A Case for Catholic Teaching (MA)

Jane Belford, J.D., former Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington (DC)

Therese Bermpohl, Director of Family Life Office, Arlington Diocese (VA)

Mary Ellen Bork, M.A. (Literature) M.A. (Theology), Writer, Board Member, Ethics and Public Policy Center (DC)

Janice Chik Breidenbach, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Ave Maria University (FL)

Sr. Sara Butler, M.S.B.T., Ph.D.  S.T.L., Professor Emerita of Systematic Theology, University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary (IL) and Director of New Evangelization, Mother Boniface Spirituality Center, Philadelphia (PA)

Marjorie Murphy Campbell, J.D., J.C.L., Columnist and Founder, NewFeminism.co (CA)

Teresa Collett, J.D., Professor of Law, University of St. Thomas School of Law (MN)

Kim Daniels, J.D., Co-founder and Senior Advisor, Catholic Voices USA; former spokesperson for the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (DC)

Theresa Farnan, Ph.D., Consultant, Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; Adjunct Faculty, Franciscan University of Steubenville (DC/PA)

Mary Hallan FioRito, J.D., Archdiocese of Chicago (IL)

Maggie Gallagher, Senior Fellow, American Principles Project (DC)

Laura Garcia, Ph.D., Scholar in Residence, Department of Philosophy, Boston College (MA)

Sr. Elinor Gardner, O.P., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Aquinas College (TN)

Arina Grossu, M.A. Director of the Center for Human Dignity, Family Research Council (DC)

Susan Hanssen, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, University of Dallas (TX)

Sr. Hanna Klaus, M.D., Founder, Natural Family Planning Center and Teen Star (MD)

Caitlin La Ruffa, Director, Love and Fidelity Network (NJ)

Kathryn Lopez, Editor-at-Large, National Review (DC)

Emily Matich Duffy, Communications and Programming Director, Catholic Information Center (DC)

Margaret Harper McCarthy, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Theological Anthropology, John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family; U.S. Editor, Humanum Quarterly Review (DC)

Meg McDonnell, Executive Director, Chiaroscuro Institute (DC)

Adelaide Mena, Journalist, Catholic News Agency (DC)

Theresa Notare, Ph.D., Assistant Director, Natural Family Planning Program; Secretariat for the Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (DC)

Sharon O’Brien, Ph.D., Province Director, National Council of Catholic Women; Co-Founder and President, Catholics for Family Peace (DC)

Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Economics, Faculty Research Fellow, Stein Center for Social Research, Ave Maria University (FL)

Sara Perla, Program Specialist, Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (DC)

Deborah Savage, Ph.D., Professor of Theology and Philosophy, St. Paul Seminary; Co-Director of the Siena Symposium for Women, Family, and Culture, University of St. Thomas (MN)

Elizabeth Schiltz, J.D., Professor of Law, Co-Director, Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy, University of St. Thomas School of Law (MN)

Susan Selner-Wright, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Chair of Philosophy, St. John Vianney Theological Seminary (CO)

Leigh Snead, M.A. (Philosophy), Contributing Editor, AltFem Magazine (IN)

Rosemary Sullivan, Executive Director, National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors; Consultant, Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (NY)

Sr. Mary Madeline Todd, O.P., S.T.D. Candidate, Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Rome/DC)

Hilary Towers, Ph.D., Developmental Psychologist and Author (VA)

Eve Tushnet, Columnist, Author of Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith (DC)