Woman to Know: Monica Miller

The Catholic Women’s Forum takes seriously Pope St. John Paul II’s call for women to “shape the moral dimension of culture” and Pope Francis’s call for a greater presence of women within the Church. And we consider it a great joy to introduce our readers to exemplary Catholic women who are serving the Church and helping to shape (or re-shape) the culture. Professor Monica Migliorino Miller is one of these gifted women. Monica is an Associate Professor of Theology at Madonna University in Michigan and is the author of the recent book The Authority of Women in the Catholic Church (Emmaus Publishing 2016).

We caught up with Monica recently, and she graciously shared some of her thoughts with us in the interview below. We hope you will be inspired—and encourage you to read her new book for a “deep dive” into her insights on women in the Church.

CWF: Monica, you’ve been a theology professor at Madonna University for about 14 years now. And you’re also a wife and mother. What draws you to teaching, especially theology?

Monica:  Yes, my husband, Edmund Miller, and I were married in 1989, and we have three young adult children—Bernadette, Joseph, and Patrick. I teach theology to students with the great hope of helping them understand and appreciate the truths of the Catholic faith—to advance their knowledge and provide them with a deeper awareness of theological ideas and concepts. But really, I consider my work as a professor and as a theologian to be most certainly a vocation—my teaching is a service to the Church, and it is a complete result of my Faith.

Indeed, I actually was studying theatre arts when I had a most profound religious conversion. Within a matter of a just a few years, I left theatre and went to Chicago to study Theology at Loyola University. So, from theatre to theology! I also had become active in the pro-life movement well before my move to Chicago and, once I arrived in Chicago, I met many wonderful pro-life activists. While in graduate school, in 1985, I founded Citizens for a Pro-life Society, and I continue as Director of that organization even today.

CWF: Tell us a bit more about the work you do and how it connects to women.

Monica: As a theologian, a great deal of my work is focused on helping Catholics understand the God-given meaning and role of women in the Church, and to understand women as agents in the accomplishment of the redemption of Christ. I focus on exploring the inherent dignity of male and female sexuality as sacramental/covenantal signs—signs through which the covenant of redemption is known and expressed. It is so important to understand the unique and absolutely essential feminine contribution women make to the economy of redemption—and to see in this the true meaning of authority in the Church and feminine ecclesial authority.

Outside the classroom, my work as a pro-life leader is to cultivate a culture of life based on the principles of Catholic social doctrine—to bring an end to legalized abortion, and to secure protection for the most vulnerable among us. In this work, I hope to change minds and hearts, helping men and women to embrace the sanctity of life. Because of my long involvement with the pro-life movement, really since 1976, I wrote a historical narrative of pro-life activism, called Abandoned: the Untold Story of the Abortion Wars, published by Saint Benedict Press in 2012.

CWF: And you have a more recent book as well, right?

Monica: Yes, Emmaus Publishing published my latest book, The Authority of Women in the Catholic Church just last year, in 2016.

CWF: You are a theology professor, and immersed in the faith from a professional level, and yet you point out that studying and teaching the faith is not the same as developing a spiritual life –a personal relationship with the Lord. So what advice would you offer on that front?

Monica: I’ve found that it is vital to set aside time each day for prayer—ideally at least 30 minutes of mental prayer and meditation. And it helps to actually memorize portions of Scripture, and to meditate on the life of Christ. In my own life, I also try to attend daily Mass and pray and meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary. I’d encourage everyone to cultivate a close relationship with Mary!

CWF:   Thanks, Monica. Last question – give us a “fun fact” – what is something that most people might not know about you?

Monica: I mentioned that I studied theatre–I have a Bachelors Degree in Theatre Arts and I performed in dozens of plays between 1968 through 1979. I also was in a summer stock company in 1974 with actor John Malkovich–we were in two plays together, as Mr. and Mrs. Peachum in the Three Penny Opera –and as husband and wife in My Three Angels. [CWF Note: John Malkovich is a veteran Hollywood actor, writer, and producer, with over 70 films and several Academy Award nominations for his performances.]

Editor’s Note: In our “Women to Know” series, we introduce you to Catholic women who inspire us with their leadership and their witness to a flourishing Catholic life. To propose a “Woman to Know,” please contact CWF web editor Lauren Konkol at lkonkol@eppc.org

Photo courtesy of The Catholic Speakers Organization.