Irish Woman Calls on Catholics to Boycott Mass on Sept. 26 For Greater Inclusion of Women

Jennifer Sleeman, an 80-year-old Catholic convert from Clonakilty in Cork, Ireland, is calling on Catholic women to “join your sisters on Sunday, September 26th. On that one day, boycott Mass. Stay at home and pray for change. We are the majority. We may have been protesting individually but unremarked on, but together we have strength and our absence, the empty pews, will be noticed.”

Men are also welcome to participate in the boycott, she said. “It’s not just about Mná na h-Éireann [Women of Ireland]. But it’s for them, because they are frustrated.” This invitation is now being spread to the faithful women of the Catholic church across the world.

(If you want to learn about the map of women boycotting on Sunday, Sept. 26, then go here.)

I love the fact that she uses the Gaelic phrase Mná na h-Éireann. It’s a phrase that carries great cultural weight referencing the critical role of women in the Irish liberation struggle.

Sleemen notes: “I am not a cradle Catholic. I chose to join as an adult [54 years ago] helped by meeting a wonderful priest … but I now wonder did I do the right thing? … Somehow I have grown up but the church has not.”

Here’s an excerpt from the news article:

“Whatever change you long for, recognition, ordination, the end of celibacy, which is another means of keeping women out, join with your sisters and let the hierarchy know by your absence that the days of an exclusively male-dominated church are over.”

Of the sexual abuse scandals within the Catholic Church, she said: “I find I belong to an organization that seems caught in a time warp, run by old celibate men divorced from the realities of life, with a lonely priesthood struggling with the burden of celibacy where rules and regulations have more weight than the original message of community and love.”

She said: “Some of the grandchildren go through the rites of sacraments, but seldom, if ever, visit a church afterwards. Some of my children are actively looking for a meaningful spiritual life, but they do not find it in the Catholic Church — I must except my eldest son who is a monk in Glenstal Abbey, another place that helps me keep some shreds of faith.”

You can read the whole article here. Or the article in the Irish Times here. There were two comments posted on the article that I particularly liked:

Well, hats off to Granny. It’s true women are treated as second class citizens. More women should support Jennifer & boycott Sunday Mass for a few weeks. Maybe it will wake up the Vatican to start doing the right thing instead of giving lip service. Come on Ladies show the church your not just a bunch of dumb sheep. The church seems to forget God created Women also. Ladies – hit them in the pocketbook. that’s where it will hurt!! Time to weed the chaff from the wheat.

Why not go back to the HEDGEROW MASS, when we had to endure anti-Catholicism by the Brits.

I think “hedgerow Masses” are a great idea! This is the equivalent of the house-church movement in the United States or the base community movement in Latin America and SE Asia. Are there priests who are willing to serve these communities? My guess is that there are.

16 thoughts on “Irish Woman Calls on Catholics to Boycott Mass on Sept. 26 For Greater Inclusion of Women”

  1. I agree with the idea that women need to be more recognized in the church. I have a hard time agreeing with the skipping mass idea. I think the green arm band is fine.

    Good luck and God bless.

    Sue Cain

  2. I will attend my church in Brooklyn, NY (US) wearing a green armband
    (and my WOmen’s Ordination button!) in solidarity. In my case, this is a more potent statement than staying home. I have been withholding donations from my church for a long time (giving, instead, to the Haiti Ministry and Food Pantry at my church.) I hope that all who do attend mass will withhold donations tomorrow — the dawning Vatican Bank scandal is a sharp reminder that greed is the language the hierarchs best understand.

  3. I’m a committed Roman Catholic with theological qualifications. I’m also an average Irish mum who reared her children in the Church. I have worked within the parish and on my own based on my belief in Jesus. My Church (not my local prayer community) has, as far as I understand it, left the message of Jesus locked into the tabernacle along with the Eucharist.
    To alert the Church to this, I will be joining in the boycott. Anybody who is also doing this and wants to join me in prayer on the day can come to my home in Kinvara, Co Galway, Ireland

  4. I will be joining the Boycott Mass on Sept. 26 along with my family and friends in MD, VA, DC and DE.

  5. The information of this boycott has to get spread far and fast!!!

    It has to be done regularly so that it will grow
    We must hit them in the pocketbook. That is what the hierarchy care about

  6. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for encouraging others to do what needs to be done. People are afraid to do these things for fear of “going to hell” or excommunication, etc. IT’S TIME, PAST TIME! JUST DO IT! Lots of love and peace and blessings, Carolyn and Tom

  7. What a courageous woman Jennifer Sleeman is. I resonated with her thought “rules and regulations have more weight than the original message of love” in memory of Jesus. In the last couple of years I have noted the unimportant gestures, etc, that have been altered to satisfy the whims of those who profess to know all there is to know about communal worshipping of Mystery. Since such, I have been searching for a genuine Eucharistic community. Back in the seventies, one international Scripture scholar stated that if unity was not present within the worshipping group, then it was not a valid Eucharist. May all be well for those who live in the presence of Mystery rather than rubrics.

  8. Green armbands makes sense. Rose we’re with you!! Mutuality and equality. I have to sing in my choir, so I have to be there on Sept. 26th, but I’ll be praying the entire mass for the end to patriachical constructs and of our society. Go Irish women!!

    Read my blog. The Vatican needs to be hit also where it will do the most ‘good’ in the pocket book. I am now sending half of my church donations directly to the nuns and to WOC and the RCWP.

  9. I really enjoyed the part written by Jennifer Sleeman.
    “Whatever change you long for, recognition, ordination, the end
    of celibacy, which is another means of keeping women out, join
    with your sisters and let the hierarchy know by your absence that
    the day of an exclusively male-dominated church are over.” I do
    agree with her..

  10. I am sure that this lady has a point however the Irish media (RTE) will see an opportunity in this. As Catholics in Ireland we have been trashed by RTE producers for more than 15 years. Many people today have to keep their Catholicism a secret to avoid verbal abuse from the mob. Old nuns and priests who gave their lives and only did good for mankind (like the vast majority of them) now must walk with their heads down. It’s very hard to watch.

  11. Are you kidding? What other Church honors Mary?! I don’t believe women are mistreated in anyway that could justify denying myself Eucharist!!! If anything attend Mass more often!! Offer up more Mass’ for this intention, Pray more especially to our Mother Mary and all the wonderful Women Saints of our Church!!!!!!!!! Know them Pray to them Embrace this beautifull full faith>
    Pray the Rosary, the Peace prayers the Divine mercy offer them all up Ladies don’t fall into a trap that will alienate you from our Lord. Love what we have!!
    Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity Jesus!!!
    He loves the women! Even when it wasn’t the popular thing to do. He loves us. Receive Him in Eucharist don’t become yet another protestant faith stick with the original!!! Referance your Catechism and know what our Church teaches and Believes.
    What the Heck do they want I don’t see any statments of what exactly they want changed??

  12. Many Catholics in Portland, OR will not be attending Mass on Sunday, Sept. 26. Instead we will be at a prayerful public witness event giving voice to the great need for justice in our Church. God bless Jennifer Sleeman! May the Holy Spirit renew the face of our beloved Church.

  13. Why would anyone want to absent themselves from the redeeming sacrifice of Christ?
    The Church has many faults, but not attending Mass hurts no one but ourselves and God.

  14. Perhaps women and men in the US could show their support by wearing a green armband to Mass on Sept 25-26. That would get more recognition than not attending Mass, which may not register with most people.

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