Meet Arlene Swidler
As a part of the post-Vatican II, Arlene’s work on women in the Catholic Church began in 1966. Her feminist ideas began in Catholicism, but they soon expanded to other religions as well. Most of her efforts were spent meeting and talking with people and editing. By the early 1990’s, she had published more than eighty articles and book reviews, served as an editor of two different periodicals, and participated in editing and writing thirteen books, along with more than forty years of college/university teaching.
She served as a English teacher, an occasional columnist for the National Catholic Reporter, and for four years as chairperson of the Committee on Liturgical and Ecumenical Affairs of the National Council of Catholic Women. She co-founded with her husband The Journal of Ecumenical Studies in 1964 and was the education editor for 25 years. The journal is still published today. For subscription information go to www.dialogueinstitute.com.
Arlene was a member of the Jewish-Catholic program committee of the Philadelphia archdiocese and she was an adjunct professor of religious studies at Villanova University. She compiled and edited the following published books: Women Priests: A Catholic Commentary on the Vatican Declaration, Human Rights in Religious Traditions, Women Priests in the Catholic Church? Mainstreaming Feminist Research for Teaching Religious Studies and Sistercelebrations: Nine Worship Experiences.
Arlene suffered for 17 years before she died of Alzheimers in 2008. Her friends and family suffered along with her until the end. The pain of slowly losing someone to this disease is not describable. One day they are lucid and capable and the next, well, they are gone. This book and the series it launches were conceived as a tribute to Arlene and her lifelong work to help women gain status in the Catholic Church and in the world in general. Her marriage to Dr. Leonard Swidler, a professor of religion and a feminist and great thinker, and her motherhood to two daughters Eva and Carmel further fueled her convictions and actions.