Women in the church often take on the symbolic role of shepherds. They’re among the people, tending and ministering to their needs, and guiding the church with courage, kindness, and leadership. This is nothing new.

In the Ancient Near East, shepherds were, in many cases, the girls of a family, since men did not do such “menial” work. There are prominent Biblical examples of this – both Zipporah (Moses’ wife) and Rachel (Jacob’s wife) are named as shepherds, and they meet their husbands at the wells where they water their flocks. Girls, who began this work at the age of eight or ten, would take the flocks into the field each day and bring them back home at night.

Each year on the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which is also Good Shepherd Sunday, we hear Jesus refer to himself as the Good Shepherd. At the time, his listeners would not simply have thought of older men when he used that title, they would have imagined the young girls they had seen in fields, tending the animals diligently and in practical, messy ways.

Let us embrace this as an important reminder that women, and people of all genders, willingly answer the call to priesthood to care for God’s people in all the messiness and meaning it entails.

Women were, and are, shepherds. Women today can be, and are, priests.

Domina pastor est (She is a pastor/She is a shepherd).

Join us on Sunday, May 8, to celebrate Vocations Sunday:

Take your photo with our “Domina Pastor Est!” sign and tag us on social media @OrdainWomen or #OrdainWomen

Attend or plan a witness outside your local church or cathedral. Gatherings are already planned for Washington, DC and Denver. Find out more about these witnesses here, and how to organize a witness in your area. We’re happy to support your planning and connect you with local members!

Find out more about the history of women shepherds on our website.

Domina Pastor Est.

For equality,

Kate McElwee
Executive Director
The handwritten name Katie

Katie Lacz
Program Director