Women Administrators of Priestless Parishes: Constraints and Opportunities

Wallace, Ruth. "Women Administrators of Priestless Parishes: Constraints and Opportunities." Review of Religious Research 32 (June 1991): 289-304.

In this article, which is based on the 1990 H. Paul Douglass lecture, Wallace identifies women's inability to seek ordination as the greatest institutional constraint facing pastoral administrators. She notes that in dioceses where women are not permitted to preach, the absence of this permission to preach also constitutes a significant constraint. Lack of support from bishops, unavailability of mentors, absence of clear communication, and failure of sacramental ministers to support administrators in their roles and enable their participation in sacramental rites also constrained women administrators in their ability to minister to their parishes, as did parishioners perception that the assignment of a lay minister was indicative of a parish's inferior status. Wallace notes that women have generally been very effective as pastoral administrators, and often bring about increased mass attendance and financial support for the parish. She concludes by pointing that out that by engaging in collaborative leadership, women pastoral administrators "are not simply reproducing the structure, they are transforming it."