bkFrom 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.

  • Continue the conversation with several of our authors on our blog. Add your thoughts using the comments feature.
  • Check out the reading guide, a helpful tool for book groups, classrooms, or parish study groups. These questions were designed by several small groups of women of different ages in different parts of the country. We welcome your contributions.
  • Visit our Calendar page to scope out where you can hear one or more of our 29 authors reading from their contributions.
  • Read the first few pages of From the Pews in the Back on the Excerpt page.
  • Our About page gives some history of this project and includes information about Kate Dugan & Jen Owens.
  • Contact us at fromthepewsintheback (at) gmail (dot) com for more information about this project, to schedule a book reading or discussion group, or to let us know your story about being a young woman and Catholic.

14 Responses

  1. So excited for the book!

  2. Congratulations!

  3. This looks very interesting

  4. If this book had been around 15 years ago, I might have been less inclined to become a Unitarian.

  5. This may just be on the list of required reading for a class I teach on Lay Spiritual Practices next Spring. Thanks!

  6. Congratulations Kate! and greetings from your old friends at CSB/SJU peace studies. I look forward to reading the book!

  7. Congratulations Jen! What a fantastic collection of very real, very poignant essays. Well done.

  8. Looks interesting, but I never sit in a pew at the back. Where is it that women are required to sit at the back of the church? Normally we sit with the rest of the laity.

  9. Another suggestion for further reading is Beth Knobbe’s book “Finding My Voice: A Young Woman’s Perspective (St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2009). It is a volume in a series titled “Called To Holiness: Spirituality for Catholic Women.” http://www.calledtoholiness.org.

  10. Wow! This book really resonated with me. I laughed and cried as I read stories that were so similar to my own. “From the Pews in the Back” helped me realize just how much being not just Catholic, but being a young, female Catholic, is part of my identity. I am applying to Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, and I could not have read this book at a better time. Thank you so much to Kate and Jennifer for answering the call to write this book, and thank you to all the women who contributed their stories! My life is enriched because of you, and I understand myself and other Catholic women better now.

    Also, it’s so funny that Elizabeth (the comment above mine) mentioned “Finding My Voice;” I JUST bought that book! It’s wonderful so far; I definitely recommend it, especially if you are a campus minister or teach at an all-girls Catholic high school.

  11. I attended your luncheon talk sponsored by the Mass. Bible Society and found very enjoyable and interesting. Will defintely get your book when I can.

  12. Please keep writing bloggers. it is enabling me and others to reflect, think, pray listen and discuss until we all have a voice.

  13. Women, and anyone else, who sit in the back pew of the church do so at their own choice. We need to grow up!

  14. I am not a young women. I will be 76 on my birthday next month, but this book could still be my book – it is my book! I just wish I had written it when I was thirty, so that you might have had an easier time.

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