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FutureChurch Launches Lectionary Expansion Project: “Mary Magdalene Goes to the Synod”


Russ Petrus, Executive Director

In the October 2023 synod synthesis, participants agreed it was “urgent to ensure that women can participate in decision-making processes and assume roles of responsibility in pastoral care and ministry” (9, m).  In order to advance women’s participation, synod participants proposed that that liturgical texts, including the lectionary, include “a range of words, images, and narratives that draw more widely on women’s experience” (9, q).

“Since many Catholics do not realize that important stories of our foremothers in faith are excluded from our lectionary, the synod process offers an important opportunity to raise awareness, advance the dialogue, and propose solutions for including these essential faith stories,” said FutureChurch Executive Director Russ Petrus.  “FutureChurch’s long history of working to expand the lectionary will take on a new, robust dimension in this critical synodal moment.”

The “Mary Magdalene Goes to the Synod” project will include outreach to synod participants, bishops, the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship, and to Prefect Cardinal Arthur Roche at the Dicastery for Divine Worship in Rome.  Activities will include a direct outreach campaign, an open letter, and a short-term program of training and support for a core group of Catholics to participate in raising awareness in the lead up to the synod.

One of the primary expansions the project will advance is reading all of John 20:1-18 on Easter Sunday to include Christ’s commission of Mary Magdalene to proclaim the Resurrection to the other disciples and her faithful fulfillment of that commission.

“FutureChurch’s terrific project, ‘Mary Magdalene Goes to the Synod’ makes Mary Magdalene of scripture visible to all Synod participants as they reflect on the roles of women in our Church,” said Rita Houlihan, FutureChurch board member. “She is our role model – the follower who never abandoned Jesus and was authorized as his first Resurrection witness. I pray she will have a seat in our hearts and at each Synod table this October,” Houlihan added.

“Mary Magdalene’s apostolic witness represents a prominent and egregious omission, but there are many others,” said Vickey McBride, chairperson of the FutureChurch board. “We want Catholics to hear the stories of Phoebe the diakonos, Junia who was prominent among the apostles, Lydia who was head of a house church, Prisca a co-worker of Paul, the midwives Shiprah and Puah of Exodus, and more,” McBride continued.

“Lifting up and telling the stories these faithful women of Salvation History will help Synod participants and all Catholics understand that women were and, should now be, leaders and ministers in our Church,” concluded Petrus.

Learn more about FutureChurch’s “Mary Magdalene Goes to the Synod” Project.