Who we are

A group of a dozen women from a few DC-area parishes were gathered around a dining room table, talking about whether there is anything we can DO in the face of new and ongoing revelations of the Church’s scandalous handling of sexual abuse of its people by its priests.  

In one sense, we felt powerless, since there are few structures in our institutional church for input from the laity to the hierarchy.  

At the same time we felt energized from our experiences as professional women in the areas of media, business, academia, literature, law and other fields where we are able to have influence and make an impact.  

We see our friends and family, especially our daughters and sons, leaving the Church in disgust.  

We are united in our concern for the future of our church, and the belief that it cannot remain life-giving for so many Catholics without structural change. We are also united in our decision to stay in the Catholic Church. 

Inspired by the women of the gospel who stayed with Jesus at the crucifixion and were the first witnesses and proclaimers of his resurrection, and by the women’s ministry at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in New York City of the same name, we adopted the name “The Women Who Stayed—DC.”   

We are interested in banding together with other parish ministries dedicated to church reform throughout the country to articulate and push for the ways that offer the best hope for the future of our Catholic Church.  

We are not as a group affiliated with any national organization, but are grateful to national Catholic reform organizations, such as FutureChurch, Call to Action, Catholic Women Speak, and the Women’s Ordination Conference who are helping to spread and amplify the message of the 5 Theses.


We believe that in order for the Church to remain alive and life-giving, it must change, and must show that commitment to change immediately.

Through parish listening sessions, conversations with other concerned Catholics, researching and reading articles, and through prayer and discernment, a small group of us worked  to summarize the voices and ideas we were hearing to create a clear statement of actions that promote a vision for the future of the Church. 

They became the 5 Theses, echoing the obscure priest Martin Luther’s 95 Theses which he posted 501 years ago on a church door in Germany.  Luther set out not to divide the church but to renew and reform it out of love for the Catholic Church.  

We wrote our 5 Theses out of love, as a way to help our Church and work with our bishops, with the expectation of being heard.