Day of Action Handbook

Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux – 1 October 2017

Welcome to the Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) Day of Action Handbook! This collective global action will send a message to the hierarchy, exposing the injustice of women’s exclusion from ordained ministry in the Roman Catholic Church, and urgently call the global institution to model true equality for all of its members. WOC believes in the power of our grassroots — rising up like “Little Flowers” — to work for our Gospel value of equality, inclusion and justice.

Getting Started

Don’t worry if you’ve never done something like this before – the plan is to make a simple, coordinated statement of intent, on a significant day that the press and Catholics will pay attention. By doing this together we can support each other at every step. WOC staff and Local Leaders can support you with sorting out a banner, talking to press, and recording your action – and anything else you’re unsure about. Read on! 

Ways to Take Action: 

  • Drop or hold a banner: Use our custom banner template or make your own and join members around the world in dropping or holding a banner in a group outside a Cathedral or church.
  • Plant Little Flowers: St. Therese’s symbol of a white rose is a perfect opportunity to hand out (paper, real, synthetic) flowers outside Mass. Make sure to include a note about why women’s ordination and equality are important to you. Or send flowers to a woman you know called to priesthood.

Step 1: Find your people

Ask 2 – 3 people you know who are supportive of the cause if they can help you organize. This is a great way to feel supported and make sure that you don’t take on too much responsibility in the planning. Divide responsibilities (publicity and media, local arrangements, day-of rituals or speakers, etc.). Contact the WOC Office for local membership lists.

Step 2: Choose your action & do your homework: (location, optics, safety, laws)

Holding a banner: Is there a Cathedral or Church in your town or city suitable for witnessing? A symbolic, popular landmark that is accessible to your group? Research local permits and laws to ensure you are able to stand for a period of time in one place.

Dropping a banner: Is there a safe bridge, building, railing, or visible location where you could hang the banner?

• Importantly: make sure the banner and/or your group do not block or distract traffic in a way that could cause an accident. Research your local laws thoroughly and make sure everyone is aware of any risks of participation.

Handing out flowers: make or source white flowers to hand out before Mass on October 1st. Gather a team to affix a note explaining the flower and your call for women’s ordination.

Funny Money: Contact the WOC office to get a supply of Funny Money (with a $10 donation), or print your own.

Step 3: Get the word out! Create an invitation or announcement on facebook and email. Hang flyers in your community centers. Make announcements and tell your friends. Share your event on social media using @OrdainWomen and #OrdainWomen.

  • Start with a simple invitation with who, what, where, when and why.
  • Share your details with the WOC office.
  • Create a Facebook invitation or ask WOC to do so.
  • Send or post invitations in your community and WOC will do the same.

Who: Faithful Catholics who believe in women’s equality in the Church and world. Members of the Women’s Ordination Conference based in Your Town.

What: Witness for Women’s Equality and Ordination in the Catholic Church in honor of St. Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church.

Where: Local Cathedral, local bridge… etc.

When: October 1st, 2017 — the  Feast Day of St. Therese of Lisieux. It is usually a good idea to start 1 hour – 30 minutes before mass. If you are planning a banner drop, you may want to arrange an early meeting time.

Why: (See Step 4)

What to wear/bring: You may ask folks wear a specific color, wear stoles, or bring something like signs or musical instruments.

Step 4: Get on message! This will help you inspire people to join your action as well as speak to representatives of the media. Try to connect this issue to your personal story or passion. Our overall three key messages for this #OrdainWomen action:

Therese of Lisieux

For Catholics, October 1st is the feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux, named a Doctor of the Church 20 years ago this month. As a young, devout woman, Therese expressed a deep sense of vocation to answering God’s call. St. Therese is also known as the “Little Flower,” but there is nothing little about her impact in the world today. The “Little Flowers” of the grassroots are in full bloom, modeling equality and living out the Gospel as the people of God. 

“I sense in myself the vocation of Warrior, Priest, Apostle, Doctor, and Martyr. In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be love.” – St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Pope Francis has a special devotion to Therese of Lisieux, and so we pray that our witness will resonate with the hierarchy to open the door to women’s ordination. 

Ordained Ministry & Leadership of Women

Women are systematically excluded from all decision-making roles in the governance of the Church because they are prohibited from becoming ordained as deacons, priests and bishops. Until women are empowered and embraced as equal decision-makers and spiritual leaders in the Church, the institution perpetuates and sanctions the inequality of women, and denies the Church the gifts and talents of women called to ordination. 

Global Impact of the Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church is a global institution with a seat at the United Nations (the Holy See) that influences international politics, policies, education and health of women and girls around the world. Women are excluded from all governance and denied decision-making authority in these structures simply because of their gender.

We call out sexism in our schools, the workplace, and in politics, but when it comes to the Catholic Church, too many look away. Women’s leadership is integral to all aspects of church and society.

Step 5: Be seen! Get your supplies ready.

You may already have an appropriate banner for this action, or you may want to make or buy one. You can use this banner template to be printed at your local office supplies store. (FYI: this is a large, high resolution image)

If you plan to hang your banner from a bridge or public building, bear in mind the effects of the wind:

  • Make fine slits all over the banner
  • Create a secure way to weigh down the bottom of the banner to keep it fully visible.
  • Construct the banner from scaffolder’s mesh (generally green). Letters can then be cut out and stuck on using contact adhesive. Generally fluorescent fabric will stand out best on the dull green.
  • Simple, bold wording is best: “Ordain Women” or “Ordain Catholic Women” gets the message across.

If you are standing with your banner, you may want to encourage your group to wear purple or purple stoles – the international symbol for women’s ordination. Print materials for your group (such as a prayer, songs, or a ritual) as well as materials to hand out to passersby. Make sure to include social media links and websites. Here are some examples:

Step 7: Widen your reach!

Get the word out about your event to bring supporters and alert the media.

  • Write a media advisory to local news outlets. Many communities have online calendars where you can easily add your event. Let WOC know of your event and we will include it on our website.
  • Several days before your action call up your local paper and radio stations: tell them what you are doing, make a good pitch and sell your action. Try and get them to come down on the day. Take photos and videos which you can give to the press.
  • Write a letter to the editor, discussing the purpose of your event, its global support, and the wider effects of inequality in the Catholic Church.
  • After asking for permission from your group members, take lots of photos of your event! Share them on social media, and follow up with media outlets to let them know of the success of your event. Tag photos using #OrdainWomen.  Don’t forget to tweet your photos to @Pontifex and your local bishop.
  • Tweet tweet tweet! #OrdainWomen @OrdainWomen

Last Step! Enjoy your action!

This day should be an empowering experience and bring you together with WOC members and supporters advocating for women’s equality in the Church in big and bold ways. Together, we are honoring St. Therese and making a big impact.